Denmark’s Ghetto Laws Replicated in Other Scandinavian States

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Editorial The Danish government is being heavily criticised by rights groups for its plans on eradicating disadvantaged neighborhoods by 2030. In the cover story, Suzan Quitaz talks about the set of laws, controversially called the “Ghetto Package,” which was introduced in 2018 with the aim of transforming areas with high unemployment and crime rates. She writes that there is no date set yet for voting on the bill — but it is expected soon and it is expected to pass. If approved in its current form, the measures will meet immediate resistance from human rights advocates who argue it will lead to a more polarized populace with parallel societies. In the politics section, Jiwan Soz speaks about how the Syrian crisis was the most prominent topic discussed between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting at the Sochi summit. In his article, Soz reviews how the outcomes of this summit will be reflected on the ground, especially since Moscow and Ankara have been robustly present in Syria since the outbreak of the war nearly a decade ago. In the culture section, Mohamed Ali Salih writes about the “Real Housewives of Dubai” which has just finished its first month on Bravo Television as the latest entry in Bravo’s Real Housewives series. The program that started about 20 years ago with “Real Housewives of Orange County» has become extremely profitable, but controversial. An American-based international reality series, it has produced and distributed 12 installments in the US, and a few more from around the world, with “Housewives” in Australia, Britain and Greece. Read these articles and more on our website eng.majalla.com. As always, we welcome and value our readers’ feedback and we invite you to take the opportunity to leave your comments on our website.

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A Weekly Political News Magazine


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A Weekly Political News Magazine

FBI Raid on Trump’s Home

28 Ignites Anger of Supporters

Issue 1917- August- 12/08/2022

24 The Political Elite and Crises of Governance

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Egypt in Race Against Time to Produce Green Hydrogen

38 The Land Before Time

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50 The Anxiety of No Influence 5

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Homes That Could Withstand Brutal Heatwaves

58 The Little Things That Can Improve Your Health


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Bikers ride during the summer heat in Dubai Shannon O’Connor rides his dirt bike during the summer heat in the desert of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 8, 2022 / REUTERS

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Fashion exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London British multidisciplinary artist Daniel Lismore wears one of his sculptural artwork creations next to other mannequins which form part of the “Fashion in Motion: Daniel Lismore” exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Britain, August 5, 2022. REUTERS

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SAU

LEBANON The first grain ship to leave a Ukrainian port under a deal brokered last month will not arrive in Lebanon on Sunday as planned, the Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon said. The Razoni left Odesa on the Black Sea early last Monday carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn and was set to dock on Sunday in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli, according to Ukrainian officials and Lebanese port authorities. But the Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon told Reuters on Sunday the ship was "having a delay" and "not arriving today," with no details on a new arrival date or the cause of the postponement.

EGYPT Egypt's annual urban consumer inflation accelerated to 13.6% year-on-year in July from 13.2% in June, data from the country's statistics agency CAPMAS showed on Wednesday. Month on month, headline inflation increased by 1.3%, compared to a 0.1% decrease in June. Among the biggest annual price increases were food and beverages and hotels and restaurants, according to CAPMAS. These included grains and bread, dairy products and eggs. Egypt has been hurt by the increase in global commodity prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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AUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund up state-owned stakes in four publicly listed companies for $1.3 part of the kingdom’s commitment to esources to the struggling economy try seen as a linchpin in the Arab

i Egyptian Investment Co., a new firm the $620 billion Public Investment uired minority stakes in Abou Kir & Chemical Industries Co., Misr Production Co., Alexandria Container o Handling Co., and E-Finance, Egypt’s Ministry and the PIF -- as the Saudi nown -- said in separate statements ay.

UAE The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday overturned a three-year prison sentence for an American citizen who had represented slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, one of his lawyers and the Emirati judicial department said.

IRAQ An influential Shiite cleric in Iraq whose supporters earlier this month stormed the parliament in Baghdad and have since held a sit-in outside the building, stepped up his demands Wednesday and issued a veiled threat of renewed violence. The cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, said on Twitter that the judiciary has one week to dissolve the legislature. Al-Sadr has previously demanded that the parliament be dissolved and that early elections are held but this time, he set a deadline. Experts are divided on whether al-Sadr has any legal basis for his demands. He won the largest share of seats in the election last October, but failed to form a majority government that excluded his Iran-aligned rivals.

IRAN Russia launched an Iranian satellite into orbit on Tuesday from southern Kazakhstan, just three weeks after President Vladimir Putin and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pledged to work together against the West. The remote Khayyam sensing satellite, named after the 11th Century Persian poet and philosopher Omar Khayyam, was launched by a Russian Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and entered orbit successfully, Russia's space agency said.

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A WEEK ACROS CUBA.

U.S. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended her trip to Taiwan on Tuesday as "absolutely" worth it and said the United States cannot allow China to isolate the self-governing island. "We cannot allow the Chinese government to isolate Taiwan," Pelosi said in an interview with NBC's "Today" show. "They're not going to say who can go to Taiwan."

An inferno at Cuba's largest oil storage facility has killed at least one firefighter, injured many more, and threatens to further swell the fuel import bill for the impoverished island nation that relies on foreign oil for everything from transportation to its power grid. Cuban officials may need to scramble to set up expensive floating storage capacity to handle imports aimed at easing an acute fuel scarcity, sources and experts said on Monday. Cuba relies on the 2.4-million-barrel Matanzas terminal, about 60 miles (130 km) from Havana, for most crude and heavy fuel imports and storage. Matanzas is Cuba's only terminal with the ability to receive large tankers rated for 100,000 tonnes of deadweight. It also serves as a hub for domestic oil output to be blended for supplying the country's power plants, and for distributing imported fuel and crude to local refineries.

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TUNISIA.

A Tunisian administrative court suspended the dismissal of fifty judges who President Kais Saied fired in June, a lawyer told Reuter on Wednesday. Saied dismissed 57 judges on Jun 1, accusing them of corruption and protecting terrorists - charge that the Tunisian Judges' Association said were mostly politically motivated. The lawyer, Kamel Ben Massoud, told Reuters that the court had rejected the appeals of at least seven other judges.


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UKRAINE Russian shelling killed 11 people in Ukraine's central Dnipropetrovsk region overnight, governor Valentyn Reznychenko said on Wednesday, as Britain said Russia had "almost certainly" established a major new ground force to support its war. The new Russian force, called the 3rd Army Corps, is based in the city of Mulino, east of Russia's capital, Moscow, the British Defence Ministry said in a daily intelligence bulletin. The ministry also said Russian commanders were facing "competing operational priorities" of reinforcing their offensive in the Donbas region in the east, as well as strengthening defences against Ukrainian counterattacks in the south.

CHINA.

INDIA. India took another step toward meeting its climate goals Tuesday when lawmakers in parliament’s lower house approved legislation that would require greater use of renewable energy and force industrial polluters to pay a price for the carbon they emit.

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China, which Russia has sought as an ally since being cold-shouldered by the West over its invasion of Ukraine, has called the United States the "main instigator" of the crisis. In an interview with the Russian state news agency TASS published on Wednesday, China's ambassador to Moscow, Zhang Hanhui, accused Washington of backing Russia into a corner with repeated expansions of the NATO defence alliance and support for forces seeking to align Ukraine with the European Union rather than Moscow. "As the initiator and main instigator of the Ukrainian crisis, Washington, while imposing unprecedented comprehensive sanctions on Russia, continues to supply arms and military equipment to Ukraine," Zhang was quoted as saying.


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Denmark’s Ghetto Laws Replicated in Other Scandinavian States

Danish Politicians Say Ghetto Package To Lead to Greater Integration By Suzan Quitaz The Danish government is being heavily criticised by rights groups for its plans on eradicating disadvantaged neighborhoods by 2030. The set of laws, controversially called the “Ghetto Package,” was

introduced in 2018 with the aim of transforming areas with high unemployment and crime rates. There is no date set yet for voting on the bill — but it is expected soon and it is expected to pass. If approved in its current form, the measures will meet immediate resistance from human rights ad-

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Labelling a legislation as a “Ghetto Package” is itself controversial and probably Denmark is the only European country who uses the term in mainstream political discourse. cally the Muslim communities. Euro-Med Monitor claims that the Ghetto Package is a form of “disguised Racism (…) Denmark’s Ghetto laws are a basic exercise of scapegoating, populism and political expediency (…). Instead of tackling the underlying root causes that lead to poverty, undereducation or unemployment amongst racial, ethnic and national minorities, the Danish government chooses to target and blame already vulnerable people for their social and economic disadvantages to score some political points,” said Michela Pugliese, Migration Researcher at the Euro-Med Monitor. The group named “General Resistance” and local residents demonstrate against unlawful ‘ghetto package’ legislation, Copenhagen Denmark, March 7, 2020. Credit: (Philip Davali / AP)

vocates who argue it will lead to a more polarized populace with parallel societies. To begin with, labelling a legislation as a “Ghetto Package” is itself controversial and probably Denmark is the only European country who uses the term in mainstream political discourse. According to Kristina Bakkaer Simonsen, a professor at Aarhus University, since 2010 the Danish government made “ghetto” a political-administrative category. It is not surprising that the United Nations and rights groups such as the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor have accused the Danish government of breaching EU laws as well as the European Convention on Human Rights. Activists have also accused the Danish government of being racist, saying the Ghetto Package is unfairly singling out immigrant communities and specifi-

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Denmark’s Ghetto laws are now been replicated in other Scandinavian countries. On August 8, Sweden’s Immigration Minister Anders Ygeman told the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that districts with a majority of inhabitants from nonNordic countries are a problem for Sweden. “I think it’s bad to have areas where the majority have a non-Nordic origin.” Ygeman suggested a 50 percent limit on concentrations of people with immigrant backgrounds in so-called “troubled areas.” He claimed that it is “hugely more difficult to learn and develop the [Swedish] language” in such areas. With the elections coming up next month, Swedish politicians need to talk tough when it comes to immigration or they risk losing seats. In Sweden, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party has soared in popularity, polling about 20% in 2020. This a party that had not won a single seat in the country’s parliament before 2010. There is


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a profound worry that they would do even better in the coming elections. Dr. Ramy Abdu, Chairman of Euro-Med Monitor said: “It is shameful to see the Swedish government sliding into a populist abyss in which singling out and targeting vulnerable foreigners is used for electoral aims. (…). Forceful assimilation, coercion, punitive policies, and an approach of ‘toughness’ are never the answer, but rather fuel a negative image of foreigners in society that essentially impedes their integration. Integrating foreigners into the country should be done through offering incentives, creating a welcoming and positive atmosphere, and facilitating their in-

Designating an area to be a ghetto is not just based on its crime, unemployment or education rates, but on the proportion of residents who are deemed “non-western”.

clusion in society and the labour market.”

DANISH POLITICIANS SAY THAT THE GHETTO PACKAGE WILL LEAD TO A GREATER INTEGRATION According to statistics, 11% of Denmark’s 5.8 million inhabitants are of foreign origin, of whom up to 9% are non-western immigrants and descendants of immigrants from non-western countries, mainly from the Middle East and Africa. Denmark already had some of Europe’s strictest policies on immigration and integration. However, attitudes towards immigrants hardened dramatically since the historical record-breaking influx of non-western asylum seekers into Europe during the refugee crisis of 2015. Over the past years the number of asylum seekers and the number of family reunifications has been significantly reduced In Denmark. Hundreds of Syrian refugees had their residency permits revoked as the government deemed it safe for them to go back to Syria. In a move similar to the United Kingdom, the Danish government is in talks with the Rwandan government to open asylum centers there. In 2017, the Folketing (Danish parliament) ex-

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A housing estate in Mjølnerparken, Copenhagen – the district is on the Danish government’s ‘ghetto list’. Credit: (Andrew Kelly/ Reuters)


People demonstrate against the sale of housing in Copenhagen under the country’s so-called ‘ghetto package’ of legislation in 2020. Credit: )(Philip Davali/AP

pressed concern that in today’s Denmark there are areas where the proportion of immigrants and descendants from non-Western countries is over 50 percent. The parliament was concerned that people they considered to be true Danes were becoming a minority in some areas. The Ghetto Package which was passed the following year is a political plan for “One Denmark without parallel societies – no ghettos by 2030.” It is aimed at eradicating all ghettoes in Denmark by year 2030. Danish politicians believe it will help Denmark’s immigrant communities to integrate and become “true Danes.” Talking tough on immigration and asylum is now “trendy” and a tactic adopted by even left-leaning parties. In the case of Denmark, the Ghetto Package was the creation of Denmark’s previous rightwing government but has now been embraced and enforced by the current Social Democrat Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who has continued the policy since coming to power in June 2019. Although the word “ghetto” has been removed from the latest legislation, the actual policies remained the same so here we are talking about just a cosmetic change. Designating an area to be a ghetto is not just based on its crime, unemployment or education rates,

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With the elections coming up next month, Swedish politicians need to talk tough when it comes to immigration or they risk losing seats. but on the proportion of residents who are deemed “non-western” – meaning recent, first or secondgeneration migrants. Areas with more than 50% ikke-västlige (the Danish word to describe someone of non-western origin) will be put on the list. The “ghetto-ed” neighborhood must also meet two of four criteria: more than 40% of residents are unemployed; more than 60% of 39 to 50-year-olds have no upper secondary education; crime rates are three times higher than the national average; and, residents have a gross income 55% lower than the regional average. In 2019, the Ghetto list included 29 areas and dis-


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tricts that fell under the category of disadvantaged neighbourhoods. 12 of them fell into “significantly-disadvantaged areas” or “hard ghettos.” Since 2018, the Danish government has implemented a number of policies to restrict the influx of new immigrants and Danish-of-non-western origin from moving into these areas in an attempt by the government to put an end to what it calls “parallel societies.” To dismantle the ghettos and avoid the so-called “parallel societies,” the Danish government knew that they cannot force people out or stop people from moving into these areas based on ethnicity or the color of one’s skin. So what it did was to stipulate a number of measures in the legislation. One of those measures is that housing associations are compelled to sell or redevelop at least 40% of public housing stock in these so called ghettos. Residential buildings were sold to private investors, who subsequently turned these residential blocks into modern and luxury flats. The whole idea is to encourage more affluent buyers/renters to move into these areas and drive out the poor and disadvantaged locals who do not have the economic means to afford a higher rent. However, according to the Housing and Transport Ministry, residents will be offered the chance to be rehoused in and around the same area. However, anyone who refuses to leave will be evicted, as forewarned by the Ministry. In October 2020, the UN Human Rights Office

“Integrating foreigners into the country should be done through offering incentives, creating a welcoming and positive atmosphere, and facilitating their inclusion in society.”

of the High Commissioner called on the Danish government to suspend the sale of apartment houses in the “ghettoes” until its courts can determine whether laws permitting the sale would violate residents’ human rights. “Denmark must not go ahead with the sale of the buildings of Mjölnerparken under its “Ghetto package” laws until courts have had a chance to rule on it, taking applicable rules of international human rights law in full account,” they said. Mjölnerparken is a housing estate in the Nörrebro neighbourhood of the Danish capital. It is home to about 2,500 residents, 98 per cent of whom are either immigrants or born to immigrants, many from Africa and the Middle East.

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The plan to eradicate “ghettos” will largely affect heavily Muslimpopulated neighborhoods. Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images


Another measure is the compulsory day-care: all children over the age of one year old who live in these disadvantaged neighbourhoods must spend a minimum of 25 hours a week on lessons on Danish language and Danish national values. Families who do not allow their children to attend these day-care centers will have their welfare benefits withdrawn. In another highly controversial and punitive measure under the Ghetto Package, police can crack down selectively on “disadvantaged-ghetto” and “significantly-disadvantaged ghetto” neighborhoods, and people convicted of crimes there generally face sentences twice as long as those in-

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dividuals committing the same crimes elsewhere. Ozlem Cekic, a former lawmaker who was one of the first women with a Kurdish immigrant background elected to the Danish Parliament, says the Ghetto Package set of laws are counterproductive and will backfire. Cekic, in an interview she gave to Deutsche Welle, said: “I talk with children who are living in this area, and they believe they are Danish because they are born Danish, they have Danish passports, they speak Danish, they go to schools here — but people always tell them: ‘You’re not Danish because you’re Muslim. (…) How can you expect them to be loyal to the country that doesn’t accept them as they are?”


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Sochi Summit Paves Way for Restoring Relations Between Ankara, Assad

Turkish, Syrian Sides Have Conditions for Negotiations; SDF Common Denominator By Jiwan Soz Although the repercussions of the Ukrainian war overshadowed the talks of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting at the Sochi summit, the Syrian crisis was also the most prominent topic discussed by the two sides. So, how will the outcomes of this summit be reflected on the ground, especially since Moscow and Ankara have been robustly present in Syria since the outbreak of the war nearly a decade ago?

On his way back from the Russian city of Sochi overlooking the Black Sea, the Turkish president stressed the need to settle differences with the Syrian regime and its president, Bashar al-Assad. He considers that the position of his Russian counterpart towards Turkey and its war against “terrorism” is a “fair” position, as he put it, even though Moscow did not explicitly approve of a new military operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Ankara has been threatening to launch since about three months ago.

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TURKISH INTELLIGENCE COMMUNICATES WITH SYRIAN COUNTERPART Erdogan literally said that “Putin is hinting that if we choose to work on finding a solution to terrorism with the Assad regime as much as possible, it will be more logical,” explaining that his response to this proposal was by saying that the “Turkish intelligence is basically coordinating with the regime’s intelligence in this regard.” The Turkish President’s statements about cooperation with the Assad regime came at the conclusion of the Sochi summit, which was held for four hours on August 5. Similar statements were followed by Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who said at the end of last July that Ankara was ready to provide support for the regime’s political struggle against the Syrian Democratic Forces, which it sees as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been waging an armed rebellion against Turkey since 1984.

TURKEY TRYING TO OPEN UP TO ALL COUNTRIES, INCLUDING SYRIA

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia August 5, 2022. Turkish Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

Political analyst Ghassan Youssef from the Syrian capital, Damascus, said, “The relations between Damascus and Ankara have not been severed, and there is so far a Syrian consulate in Istanbul. There are contacts between Turkish and Syrian intelligence.” Youssef added to Majalla, “If relations between Syria and Turkey are not restored during the current president Erdogan’s era, they will return during the era of his successor, but if he wins the elections again and if Moscow continues to persuade the two sides to return to negotiations and to the Adana Agreement, relations will return between Damascus and Ankara in particular.” Turkey has recently been pursuing a zero-problem policy with neighboring countries that former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was talking about years ago. Today, it has restored relations with a number of Arab countries and is trying to do the same with Greece and Israel. He continued, “Turkey has no options but to restore relations with Syria, but this matter will only be achieved under Syrian conditions.”

REGIME HAS STRICT CONDITIONS FOR NEGOTIATING WITH ANKARA The Syrian regime already has several strict conditions for conducting negotiations with Turkey on a higher level than the current contacts between the intelligence services of the two sides. Damascus requires Ankara to withdraw, in whole or in part, its military forces from a number of Syrian areas it

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“The relations between Damascus and Ankara have not been severed, and there is so far a Syrian consulate in Istanbul. There are contacts between Turkish and Syrian intelligence.” controls, as a prerequisite for starting any dialogue with the Turkish side. This comes in addition to dissolving armed groups opposed to Assad supported by Ankara and stopping support for extremist groups in Idlib and its countryside. No diplomatic meetings have taken place between Syrian and Turkish officials so far, according to a source in the regime’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in Damascus. The source stressed that “all the Syrian-Turkish meetings have been limited to military and intelligence figures since the beginning of the crisis, but Moscow has been working on a Syrian-Turkish rapprochement for months.”

ANKARA ALSO HAS CONDITIONS On the other hand, Ankara also has predetermined conditions for negotiating with Damascus, which precede the refugee matter in terms of importance and are related to the issue of the presence of the Syrian Democratic Forces on the southern borders of Turkey. It is in the areas under the control of the SDF supported by the United States and the international coalition led by it against ISIS that Ankara sees as a threat to its “national security.” Ankara does not hide its approval of the regime forces’ control over the entire border strip between Syria and Turkey, instead of the Syrian Democratic Forces that have already moved more than thirty kilometers away from those areas. This arrangement was made after a double agreement was reached between Ankara and Washington, on the one hand, and Ankara and Moscow, on the other hand, following a double agreement between Ankara and Washington. The last military operation launched by the Turkish army against the SDF was in October, 2019. Turkey fears the SDF in terms of the participation of the Kurds in its ranks, although it also includes Arab, Syriac-Assyrian and Armenian armed groups, as it fears the transfer of this dynamic to the other side of the border,


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where there are millions of Kurds and different ethnic and religious minorities.

DIFFERENCE IN POSITION OF TURKEY, SYRIA ON SDF Although the official Turkish and Syrian positions on the SDF experience are almost unified, the regime does not classify the SDF as a “terrorist” group, in contrast to Turkey, and this is one of the points of contention between the two sides. Another government source from Damascus told Majalla that “Damascus does not mind weakening the SDF, but at the same time it does not see the solution to confronting it militarily. Therefore, any rapprochement between Damascus and Ankara must be preceded by a larger government presence in the SDF areas, which has not happened so far.” It is likely that any talks between Turkish and Syrian officials may mean a return to the Adana security agreement between the two sides, which dates back to 1998 and is related to the pursuit of armed groups by both states on

Although the official Turkish and Syrian positions on the SDF experience are almost unified, the regime does not classify the SDF as a “terrorist” group.

both sides of the border between the two countries. In this regard, political analyst Youssef did not rule out Moscow’s hosting of security meetings between Syria and Turkey to achieve this purpose. He also said that “security meetings have already taken place between the two sides in Moscow, at the Hmeimim base, and in the Syrian town of Kasab.” He added, “The meetings between the two sides will continue further if the Turkish side is serious about resolving the Syrian crisis.”

ADANA AGREEMENT MIGHT BE A CONVENIENT SOLUTION According to Youssef, putting the Adana agreement on the negotiating table is a Syrian and Russian demand alike. He believed that, “the Adana Agreement may ultimately be the best solution for the Syrian and Turkish sides, because they do not want a confrontation between the two countries against the background of a common threat to them from the SDF.” For Ankara and Damascus alike, the Syrian Democratic Forces represent the greatest danger, but the American support provided to SDF may hinder the Turkish and Syrian endeavors at the same time. While Ankara classifies the SDF as a “terrorist” group and finds in it an extension of the PKK, Damascus accuses it of colluding with what the Assad regime calls the American occupier in addition to describing it as a “separatist” militia, a description that Ankara also uses when speaking about the SDF. Turkish state media reported that the issue of the SDF

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Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Sochi, Russia August 2022 ,5. Sputnik/Vyacheslav Prokofyev/Pool via REUTERS


Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Sochi, Russia August 5, 2022. Sputnik/Vyacheslav Prokofyev/Pool via REUTERS

and Idlib was among the most prominent subjects that the Turkish president discussed with his Russian counterpart at the Sochi summit, which was held last week. Moscow reiterated its refusal for Turkey to launch any military operation inside Syrian territory targeting the SDF, which may mean intensifying communication between Ankara and the Assad regime to remove the SDF from Turkey’s southern borders in exchange for the regime’s expansion in those areas, in addition to Idlib.

REFUGEE ISSUE WILL BE PRESENT BETWEEN ANKARA AND ASSAD Turkish sources also did not rule out discussions between Ankara and Assad on the issue of returning Syrian refugees from Turkey to their country, especially with the approach of the presidential and parliamentary elections that Turkey will conduct less than a year from now. At the end of their summit in Sochi on the fifth of this month, the Russian and Turkish presidents affirmed their determination to coordinate action and solidarity in combating all “terrorist organizations” in Syria, without explicitly identifying them in the text of the joint final statement. The joint final statement published by the Russian presidency stressed the importance of advancing the political process in Syria, stressing the “necessity of preserving Syria’s political unity and territorial integrity.” In conjunction with security issues related to the Syrian crisis, the two leaders agreed in the economic fields to increase the volume of bilateral trade on a balanced basis to meet mutual expectations regarding the economy and

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“The meetings between the two sides will continue further if the Turkish side is serious about resolving the Syrian crisis.” energy, and to take concrete steps, especially with regard to sectors such as transport, trade, agriculture, industry, finance, tourism and construction. The Russian president and his Turkish counterpart stressed the need to ensure the full implementation of the Istanbul Agreement “in letter and substance,” including the unhindered export of Russia’s stocks of grain and fertilizers, as well as raw materials for their production. According to the Russian statement, the two leaders agreed to hold the next meeting of the high-level Turkish-Russian Cooperation Council in Turkey, without specifying a date. The meeting of the two presidents came after meeting with their Iranian counterpart, Ibrahim Raisi, during the tripartite summit of heads of guarantor states of the Astana process on Syria in the Iranian capital, Tehran, last July. The Tehran summit was concluded with the three presidents issuing a final statement, on the nineteenth of last July, which included 16 items that summarized the three parties’ vision of the current situation in Syria.


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The Political Elite and Crises of Governance

Iraq and Libya Are Examples By Ahmed Taher

these ruling systems, as they have the power to make decisions or at least influence their formulation. It is not an overstatement to say that studying the Hence, it becomes crucial to shed light on the role issue of the elite and its position in managing states of these elites in general and their political role, in and societies is one of the major approaches that particular, to find out the conditions in any country. contributes to understanding and explaining many There are many approaches through which the political, economic and social phenomena that occur conditions and phenomena within these countries can be analyzed. in these states and societies. As within any society, there is a limited ruling group Still, the approach related to the role of the elite that monopolizes the most critical economic, political represents a keener tactic for the understanding and and social positions and plays pivotal roles within clarification of the causes and factors, and it is more

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Supporters of Iraqi Shi›ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr climb the blast walls surrounding Baghdad›s highly fortified Green Zone during protest against corruption in Baghdad, Iraq July 2022 ,27. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

appropriate in offering solutions and proposals to solve the crises and problems the countries are facing. Just as this elite has a role in achieving the state›s political stability, it can also provoke problems and unrest within it, depending on what it possesses of the many and varied tools and mechanisms. Some are related to the nature of its location (economic, political, or cultural/social), others are related to the nature of its position, and others are related to its relations and associations with the external parties that have their internal effects. The relevance of this comment is due to the unstable political, security and economic conditions that some countries in the Arab region are experiencing. With a quick look at the map of the Arab countries, we can observe an active role of the political elite in the stable countries that have succeeded in crossing over their crises and developing immediate and long-term solutions to their crises. This is exemplified by what Egypt underwent after the June 30 revolution and what the Arab Gulf states witnessed in maintaining their political stability and economic development in light of the future visions they presented for sustainable development. On the other hand, we find countries whose political elites have failed to find a way out of their political crises, economic pitfalls, and social/cultural conflicts, as shown by Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya and Sudan, as well as Lebanon, albeit at different levels between them. However, the two crises experienced by Iraq and Libya remain more an expression of the role of the political elite in the crisis of governance despite the varying circumstances and the different situations, which this report reviews through two axes as follows: The Political Crisis in Iraq; the Struggle of the Elite to Represent Their Formation: Throughout its history, Iraq has suffered from several crises in which its political elite played an active role. A careful reading of what Iraq has experienced reveals that the state›s crisis was not economic due to the lack of resources, or social due to the diversity of its societal factions as much as it was due to how its political elite managed its internal issues. This is evidenced by what Iraq is undergoing today in terms of a complex political crisis of multiple dimensions - the crisis between its three main factions (Shiites - Sunnis - Kurds) and their failures in developing a consensual model capable of managing the country›s affairs without conflicts and clashes that are renewed from time to time.

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As within any society, there is a limited ruling group that monopolizes the most critical economic, political and social positions and plays pivotal roles within these ruling systems, as they have the power to make decisions or at least influence their formulation. The last crisis contained a Shiite-Shiite conflict, and it contained a Kurdish-Kurdish conflict, as well as a Sunni-Shiite conflict, and an Arab-Kurdish conflict, which means that there is a more profound crisis within the sectarian and ethnic composition in Iraq, as each party is looking at its right to represent its sect, ideology or ethnicity. Everyone stands today in what is known in history as “the struggle of all against all.” There are indeed initiatives put forward by some parties in an attempt to bridge the rift. Still, they have remained mere invitations to hold dialogues and meetings that will not lead to real solutions to the crisis that the country is sustaining. This finds its explanation in two factors: internal competition and conflict between the political elite that leads each sectarian or ethnic faction, and its continuous attempt to impose its hegemony and control over the domestic scene. For example, the aftermath of the recent elections between the Sadrist movement, which has the parliamentary majority, and the Coordination Framework that talks about political dominance, not parliamentary sovereignty. The latter is a term that its supporters used to provoke a fake crisis in order to disregard the election results in an attempt to disrupt the Sadrist movement›s representation of the Shiite majority in the face of the representatives of the Coordination Framework. The same thing was repeated in the case of Kurdish representation in the Presidency of the Iraqi Republic, which contributed to the disruption of the parliament›s work and its ability to choose a prime minister and a president of the republic so that the structure would remain stable, leading to a state of conflict between supporters of each faction in the streets, which later moved to governmental institutions. This happened


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recently in the attack on the Iraqi parliament by supporters of the Sadrist movement, rejecting the political practices carried out by the Coordination Framework for the purpose of undermining the results of the electoral process in which it had failed. The second is external and relates to the role of external parties in the Iraqi crisis, starting with the American part, passing through the Turkish intervention, and reaching the Iranian penetration, in which Tehran tried to extend hegemony over Iraqi internal affairs through its proxies from some Shiite parties. That is rejected by other Shiite parties, meaning the Sadrist movement, which defends Iraq›s Arab identity, unity, sovereignty and independence against the dictates of the mullahs in Tehran. Undoubtedly, these interventions played an active role in complicating the

The relevance of this comment is due to the unstable political, security and economic conditions that some countries in the Arab region are experiencing.

Iraqi crisis. The Political Crisis in Libya; the Struggle of the Elite Over Positions, Rewards: The Libyan situation was not far from the Iraqi scene in the struggles of its political elite over the seats of power and its rewards. A reading of the crisis reveals the availability of the same two factors that play a role in the complexities of the Iraqi problem, namely, the internal factor related to the conflicts of the Libyan political parties and the attempt of each party to gain by deducting the balance of the other side, taking into account the absence of the sectarian and ethnic dimension in contrast to the hegemony of the tribal and regional dimensions. If the sectarian and ethnic dimension played a role in the Iraqi crisis, then in the Libyan crisis it is concentrated in the tribal and regional dimensions between the east, west, and south, as each party tries to entrench itself in the geographical space that they dominate, exploiting its wealth and resources as if it were an independent state. This feature represented the expressive picture of the Libyan crisis since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi›s regime in 2011. The second factor is related to foreign interference, whether international, as is the case in the American, Russian, European or regional role, as is the case in Turkey, where these parties are trying to seize the opportunity to find a footing for their interests in the Libyan land, which suffers from the

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Supporters of Iraqi Shi›ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr protest against corruption inside the parliament building in Baghdad, Iraq July 27. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani


Protesters hold political banners and Libyan flags at Martyrs› Square in Tripoli, Libya, February 2021 ,5. REUTERS/Hazem Ahmed

absence of a political elite capable of resolving the discord in the interest of the country. Instead, the Libyan elite fell into the clutches of affiliations and alignments with some external parties that tried to employ these elites to achieve their interests. Perhaps what the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Libya and the Acting Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Stephanie Williams, stated was accurately expressing the position of the elite and its responsibility for the situation in Libya, as she said: «Some in the political class want to obstruct dialogue and agreement in Libya, and this is harmful... the people are fed up.» The feasibility of the statement is that the Iraqi and Libyan crises revealed the role of the political elite in the deterioration of the situation, the complexity of circumstances and the obstruction of a national action track to reach political understandings in order to get out of the furnace of conflicts that were not limited to the political arena, but instead moved to fight on the ground between the same people under false pretexts and invalid allegations. The Iraqi and Libyan crises, like other crises that the Arab countries (Lebanon, Sudan, Yemen and other examples) are witnessing, is a crisis of a political elite that has become too sterilized to present fundamental ideas, practical proposals and future policies to build their countries based on internal consensus and

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The Libyan situation was not far from the Iraqi scene in the struggles of its political elite over the seats of power and its rewards. political understanding far from opening the door to foreign interlopers who try to seize the country›s capabilities and employ them to achieve their interests at the expense of the interests of the peoples whose fate has depended on the ability of their elite to draw plans and determine paths. This real crisis deserves to be highlighted if we want to get out of the closed circle that revolves around its political concerns. The conclusion is that the political elite in any country is the most influential factor in its conditions and future. If their intentions are sincere, their reading is good, and their decision is mastered, they will save their country from conflicts that threaten its security, stability, and even existence. Will these elites wake up from their negligence and pay attention to their responsibilities, or will they remain as they are to make their people pay the price of their ossification?


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FBI Raid on Trump’s Home Ignites Anger of Supporters

Two US Opposing Opinions Weigh Incident Mohammad Ali Salih – Washington Last week’s raid by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on former President Donald Trump’s residence, at his Mar-a-Lago golf course in Florida, ignited the anger of millions of his supporters. But, beside tweets and posts on the Internet, hundreds of his supporters showed up at the residence – some were carrying guns – shouting and swearing to defend

him, and America. It was worse yet that some called for another “Civil War.” In fact, the FBI search was not political as much as it was technical: it is about the National Archives keeping the records and documents of the Trump presidency, as it has been doing for presidents before him. The National Archives and the FBI grew increasingly concerned that Trump, or his lawyers and aides, had not returned all the

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FBI search of former US president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence sought presidential and classified records believed to have been unlawfully retained, two sources familiar with the matter said. David Dee Delgado/ Reuters

documents and other material that were government property. When Trump gave 15 boxes of items to the National Archives about seven months ago, key records were not delivered. Over months of meetings about whether documents were still missing, some officials also came to suspect Trump’s representatives were not truthful. But, as Trump did on the day when his supporters attacked the Congress on January 6, 2021, he again made inflammatory statements: What the FBI “did was not only unprecedented, but completely unnecessary.” Again, within hours of the search and the inciting statement, Republican lawmakers, conservative talk show hosts, anti-government provocateurs, and pro-Trump conspiracy theorists began issuing explicit, or thinly-veiled, calls for violence. There was a concern about the safety of the federal judge in Florida who approved the FBI search warrant. His name and home address found their way to right-wing forums, and threats and conspiracy theories soon followed. Following are two opposite opinions about this call for violence, excerpts from their tweets, websites, and statements to the media: On one side, extreme conservative Steven Crowder, who has nearly two million followers on Twitter, and nearly six million on YouTube, declared: “Today is war.” On the other side, Casey Cox, a political scientist at Texas A&M University who studies domestic terrorism, warned that a “war” might be started by some of Trump supporters.

Steven Crowder: “War”: “Today is war. That is all you will get on my show today … A bell has been rung that cannot be unsung. And let me tell you this, as I have never done: there is a lot of misinformation out there, largely from the left and mainstream media. What the FBI did was so wrong, so tyrannical, a reflection of the Biden leftist administration. I am not calling you to commit violence as the left is saying about me. Nor fight like hell against the spies of Communist China. But, the world should know that half of the

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The National Archives and the FBI grew increasingly concerned that Trump, or his lawyers and aides, had not returned all the documents and other material that were government property. Americans felt insulted by what the FBI did, not only to President Trump, but to our country, our constitution, and to what America is about … We need to hit the purge button, and we want the whole world to see us hitting the purge button. Why not hit the purge button and today we feel insulted, hurt and neglected. Therefore, we have the right to scream. Not as egregiously as the left, but it is time to fight fire with fire ... This is not a call for violence, for a physical civil war, because I know that YouTube [where he publishes his opinions] is on high alert. Then there are leftist organs, like CNN and MSNBC who pointed out that the FBI top officials and the Florida judge who authorized the operation were appointed by Trump. But that is not important because we know that a person, any person, at the end of the day, wants to keep his job … We don’t blame these people; we blame this leftist government that has embarked on destroying America so as to achieve its agenda. Do you know what they are going to do next, after the FBI raid on Trump’s residence? They are going to have spies, and like the German Gestapo, are going to knock at our doors to collect our guns … The left is getting ready for physical violence in the name of the administration that they are having now. And that is why they are talking about our physical violence. We know about this leftist administration’s secret meetings in Washington, preparing to go after your guns, your houses, your culture, and your way of life …”


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Casey Cox: “Might be ‘War’”: “If this line of violent thought [from Trump supporters] continues, I suspect we’ll see more far-right chatter about the federal government buildings being legitimate targets … If the goal is to normalize vigilante violence as a political response, studies show that the tactic seems to be working. A recent “Washington Post”-University of Maryland poll found that about 1 in 3 Americans said they believed violence against the government can at times be justified. That was the largest percentage to feel that way in more

than two decades. Other studies similarly have found a growing tolerance of violent ideologies that historically were confined to fringe elements … I have tracked how these ideas were laundered into the mainstream right over decades, creating an increasing undertone of violence that has been simmering from the early 1990’s. By 2008, coinciding with the right-wing back-

A gardener works at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home after former U.S. President Donald Trump said FBI agents raided it, in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. August 9, 2022. REUTERS/Marco Bello

A recent “Washington Post”University of Maryland poll found that about 1 in 3 Americans said they believed violence against the government can at times be justified. Steven Crowder / YouTube

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Police direct traffic outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. August 9, 2022.Terry Renna / AP

lash to Barack Obama’s presidency, the messaging was becoming more overt. We saw more pronounced violence. We saw more campaign ads either on TV or online featuring targets to be attacked ... Dangerously, Republican leaders helped to ignite the fire. We saw Senator Ted Cruz cooking his breakfast on the barrel of a gun … Aggressive gerrymandering [of election dis-

Violent rhetoric that once was considered disqualifying is now politics as usual, a shift that began before Trump but was hastened under his presidency. tricts] has created a more extreme electorate, forcing politicians to veer further right to stay in office. Violent rhetoric that once was considered disqualifying is now politics as usual, a shift that began before Trump but was hastened under his presidency. As shown by the Congressional investigation of the January 6 [the attack on the Congress], veiled calls for violence in political speech move quickly from more mainstream outlets such as Fox News to far-right extremist forums. By the time you get through some of that, you can really see a lot of the sheen coming off. ‘We’re going to have a wild rally’ becomes `Bring weapons, we’re going to storm the Capitol (again) ...”

Casey Cox, a political scientist at Texas A&M University

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Egypt in Race Against Time to Produce Green Hydrogen National Green Projects in the Pipeline

By Wael Salem

State’s orientation towards green hydrogen projects, as part of its interest in switching to clean energy, and working to reduce carbon emissions.

Egypt is racing against time to step up its green hydrogen production as a clean source of energy as part of its efforts Green hydrogen is emerging as a profitable and viable alterto rely heavily on new and renewable energy. native to fossil fuels, especially after the outbreak of the war The Egyptian government stressed the importance of the between Russia and Ukraine, economist Alia el-Mahdy,

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professor at the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences of Cairo University told Majalla. The war has given rise to concerns about energy supply, amid calls for increasing dependence on less environmentally polluting energy sources, she said. Cairo is answering these calls, even though its interest in the production of green hydrogen preceded the war outbreak, el-Mahdy said. Rashad Abdo is an economics professor at Cairo University and head of the Egyptian Forum for Economic and Strategic Studies. He told Majalla that green hydrogen projects being carried out by Egypt are building the future of the energy sector in the country, as the green hydrogen as well as new and renewable energies generate zero pollution. Egypt is expanding its implementation of green projects ahead of hosting the 2022 Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 27) to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh in November this year.

The Egyptian government has signed a deal with Norwegian renewable energy company, Scatec to develop 100MW Green Hydrogen plant in Ain Sokhna.

The war has given rise to concerns about energy supply, amid calls for increasing dependence on less environmentally polluting energy sources. and regional hub in this vital sector that is expected to transform the global energy system during the upcoming period. These projects will also accelerate the energy transition process in the region, he added. The Egyptian government plans to announce a list of projects for the production of green hydrogen in the near future. These projects, it said earlier this year, would be part of a national initiative.

MAKING STRIDES

RENEWABLE ENERGY

“Cairo is making great strides in the energy sector. Egypt wants to send a clear message to the whole world that it preserves environmental resources through switching to green energy,” explained Abdo.

Egypt also has plans for incorporating green hydrogen production into its Energy Strategy for 2035. The government is intensifying efforts to diversify energy sources, whether from traditional sources, or using solar and wind energy.

He noted that green hydrogen is a new revolution in clean new and renewable energy, adding that Egypt has an excellent opportunity to make inroads in this promising field among big global partners.

The State is making great strides to expand renewable energy projects, and to encourage the private sector to participate in these projects.

Egypt has clinched a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding with major international corporations in this sector, including Norwegian and Emirati firms.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi directed the government in July last year to formulate a national strategy for the production of green hydrogen and present this plan during COP27 climate summit.

Abdo went on to say that during the COP27 conference, Egypt could confirm a raft of pacts with giant global corporations and get financial grants to expand in green projects nationwide.

In late May this year, President Sisi met with Chairman of the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone), Yehia Zaki, and Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Mohamed Shaker, to discuss the methods for raising electricity production from renewable energy to 42 per cent.

He stressed that the Egyptian State is working to encourage investment in green energy projects, owing to Egypt’s potentials to become an important pivotal Egypt is not alone in giving so much attention to the

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into a regional green energy hub, hoping to use the investment momentum generated by COP27 preparaSeveral other countries around the world, such as tions to fulfill this goal. Australia, France, India and Brazil, are taking similar steps by announcing their own national plans for the Egypt has signed six memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with international companies, including Norproduction of green hydrogen. way’s Scatec, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy ComSome Arab countries are close to producing green pany, Hassan Allam Holding, Egyptian Inara Capihydrogen as well, including the United Arab Emir- tal, Danish Maersk, France’s EDF Alliance and the ates where state-owned company ADNOC signed an UAE’s AMEA Power, to start the production of green agreement in this regard with the Spanish company hydrogen. Cepsa. The SCZone also signed a memorandum of underMorocco and Germany also hammered out a partner- standing with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt, the New and Renewable Energy Authority, the French Total ship to build Morocco’s first green hydrogen plant. Egypt, for its part, wants to transform the SCZone Alliance and Inara Capital for the implementation of a project that will produce 300,000 tons of green ammonia. production of this clean fuel.

Green hydrogen projects being carried out by Egypt are building the future of the energy sector in the country, as the green hydrogen and new and renewable energies generate zero pollution.

Masdar and Hassan Allam Holding also signed an agreement to set up green energy plants in the SCZone and on the Mediterranean coast. These projects are expected to produce 480,000 tons of green hydrogen. Hassan Allam, the chairman of Hassan Allam Holding, says that his company will establish a green hydrogen plant that will start operating in 2026. Allam say that the plant will produce 100,000 tons of

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Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli recently attending the signing of two MoUs develop green hydrogen production plants in the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) and on the Mediterranean coast.


Green hydrogen is emerging as a profitable and viable alternative to fossil fuels, especially after the outbreak of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

green methanol annually. This methanol, he adds, would be used to fuel cargo ships transiting the Suez Canal. Meanwhile, Head of the SCZone Yehia Zaki held a recent meeting with senior officials of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London on May 20. He referred to $10 billion in hydrogen and green ammonia investments in Egypt, and expected Egypt to produce close to 2 million tons of both green hydrogen and ammonia annually. “We expect more investments to be poured in this sector in the coming period,” he said.

Cairo is making great strides in the energy sector. Egypt wants to send a clear message to the whole world that it preserves environmental resources through switching to green energy. including the support of local and foreign investors.

Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli announced the Zaki added that the government sought to be experi- formation of an independent unit to follow up on inmenting with the operation of green hydrogen pro- vestor problems, remove challenges and facilitate investment procedures in all sectors. jects by 2025 or 2026. He revealed that between $15 billion and $17 billion The Prime Minister said that the Egyptian in investments are needed to raise the production to 5 state is working hard to develop the energy strategy to include green hydrogen as an enmillion tons. ergy source, which would be a major step for Part of this money, Zaki said, would be used for so- Egypt to become a regional main hub for new lar and wind power projects in areas other than the and renewable energy, in line with the Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS): Egypt SCZone. The government also works to attract investments, Vision 2030.

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A Weekly Political News Magazine

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Issue 1917- August- 12/08/2022

Brad Pitt: Inside the Actor’s History

www.majalla.com



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pinion

The Land Before Time Exploring an untouched world in the middle of Europe

By Luisa Markides

Hovering high over both the ping of modernity and the sizzle of one of Europe’s hottest summers is Ticino in the Swiss Alps. It is a world and several generations away from the 40-degree heat and air travel disruption dominating the news pages. One of 26 Swiss cantons, this is a land of ancient stone houses, time-worn valleys, waterfalls and rivers, granite and slate, churches and hamlets and views galore. It is where life came to a peaceful, pleasant, slumberous stop. Ticino sits right at the bottom of Switzerland, near the Italian border, and has an overall population of about 350,000 – about three percent of the country’s total. It is known, among other things, for its river which flows from the Alps and winds its way down through Lake Maggiore and onwards, south, passing Milan. As you might expect, Ticino makes for a popular holiday destination owing in part to its climate and its northern boundary, namely the 3,000m mountain peaks of the Gotthard Massif.

Yet those who stay and wander may just stumble across an isolated village that hasn’t changed in 150 years .

Technology and modernity have certainly left their mark here, not least with the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel (57km, or 35 miles), which sends highspeed trains shooting under the mountains, connecting northern and southern Europe as they do. Those heading south can expect lively piazzas, lemon and fig trees, and beaches, as they pass some of the best hiking spots in the world.

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Yet those who stay and wander may just stumble across an isolated village that hasn’t changed in 150 years, one that overlooks an alpine lake unreached by cars, where the air is crisp and fresh and clean, where the drinking water is drawn from a nearby river, and where electricity is virtually a rumoured myth. Such a place exists. It trades in silence punctuated only by nature. In terms of distance, it is not too far from the highly developed, highly industrialised Switzerland that we all know. In terms of attitude, it is another planet entirely. Out on a limb, the closest village is an hour’s hike away. Unhindered by others, the dwellings that there are sit steady and stubborn, clad in unaltered local stone. Most are small privately owned cottages called ‘rustico’ in Italian. One has its year of construction stamped into the granite: 1698. In the past, this place has been used by famers living in the village below who would spend a hot summer month or two up here with their animals before heading back down. These days, most houses sit empty throughout the coldest winter weeks, before emerging as a sort of living museum to yesteryear when the weather warms. To live here, even for a short while, is to lead the kind of slow and simple life that often comes with seclusion. It is this slow simplicity amidst stunning vistas that draws the tourists. One by one, the cottages are slowly modernising, connecting to a water


Lugano, Ticino, Switzerland. Credit: Flickr

supply, perhaps, or installing solar energy panels. The days of having to carry water from the fountain, or use candles and petrol lanterns for light, are still of recent memory. Most cottages remain heated only by their fireplace. Wood also fuels the ovens with which people cook. In the depths of winter, only one person lives here now - a farmer in his mid-20s. He, in turn, took over from a recently retired farmer in 2020 who had worked the land for 45 years. That man raised a family in the village. Growing up, his children had a one-hour daily walk down the mountain to catch the school bus, then a onehour daily walk back up again. Years earlier, there had been many more families, but poverty and opportunity drove a 19th century migration, the villagers heading off to towns and cities first in Italy, then across the Atlantic, to the United States, Canada, and Argentina. One by one, their lanterns went unlit. Today, every summer, tourists migrate back to where these mountain locals once left. By day, they busy themselves with the scenery. By night, they sit around a large stone table at the village’s

entrance, drinking evening wine, sharing food, playing cards and music, and meeting their fellow travellers. Among the languages spoken are Swiss German, German, French, Spanish, Polish, and English. Among the professions to which these tourists will soon return are finance, engineering, security, film, academia, and music. It attracts all sorts. There is even a priest and a mayor. The villagers who once lived here left to connect. The tourists who now make it their home for a week or two come to disconnect from modern life, and reconnect with nature, with the slower pulse of a life lived outside the fast lane. Whereas its unchanged nature might once have been off-putting, it is today both a boon and a bonus. To cook over an open wood fire, the nearest WiFi and TV a mountain range away, is to embrace the past and the real, the peace and tranquillity. It is to forget the news, whether that be temperature records or post-Brexit queues or airport meltdowns. In this mad and spinning world of ours, village rarities such as this are the new luxe, as much untouched paradise as point of view. Talking of views, just look over there.

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As you might expect, Ticino makes for a popular holiday destination owing in part to its climate and its northern boundary, namely the 3,000m mountain peaks of the Gotthard Massif .


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Real Housewives of Dubai

Dubai’s Women According to Bravo TV Washington, Mohammad Ali Salih

An American-based international reality series, it has produced and distributed 12 in“Real Housewives of Dubai” has just fin - stallments in the US, and a few more from ished its first month on Bravo Television as around the world, with “Housewives” in the latest entry in Bravo’s Real Housewives Australia, Britain and Greece. series. The program that started about 20 years ago with “Real Housewives of Orange From the first one about the women of OrCounty” has become extremely profitable, ange County (in California), the concept has been clear: it documents the lives of upperbut controversial.

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class women who lead glamorous lives in a picturesque Southern California gated-community where the average home has price tag of about two million dollars. Residents there include top corporation presidents and directors, famous television and cinema stars, and rich retired professional athletes.

“The Real Housewives of Dubai” cast members, from left, Sara Al Medani, Caroline Brooks, Caroline Stanbury, Chanel Ayan, Lesa Milan and Nina Ali. (Chris Haston / Bravo)

An American-based international reality series, it has produced and distributed 12 installments in the US, and a few more from around the world, with “Housewives” in Australia, Britain and Greece.

Dubai’s six Houswives are: Sara Al Madani, divorced, Emirati, who said she was a proud Muslim, but also a “fusion” between her culture and her rebellious personality; Chanel Ayan, born and raised in Kenya, who said she was Dubai’s first Black supermodel; British Caroline Stanbury who has lived in Dubai for seven years, divorced and remarried; Nina Ali, Lebanese American, the most beautiful among the six, and mother of three; Caroline Brooks, an African-Latino-American; and, Lesa Milan, a Jamaican-American, with a British husband and their three children.

“The Daily Beast”: Jordan Julian: ‘Real Boring”:

An overwhelming portion of the responses were negative, for the clear reason of glamorizing the lives of the rich. But the responses were even more negative because the Dubai’s women were millionaires, living in a place that has become famous because of these very factors. The only positive response in the major media outlets that were checked here, was on “Yahoo News,” by a Black commentator who praised the presence of three Black women among the six.

Third, Ayan, the Kenyan, is the most annoying cast member by a mile. She proudly said: “Whoever comes here, don’t try to steal my stardom because, honey, I’m the star in this city.” Fourth, Sara, the Emirati, obsessed with modernization, declared: “This is an opportunity for me to show the Western world, or the world in general, how a modern Arab woman can be’ … ‘The Housewives of Dubai’ has fancy modern houses, and expensive designer ward-

“We’re devastated to report that ‘The Real Housewives of Dubai’ is tragically boring. The ‘Housewives’ series have gone international, the first overseas iteration of the franchise to be produced by Bravo … The problem with The Real Housewives of The series has had two seemingly opposite Dubai is not that it is problematic, whiteresponses – on one side, a large popular au- washed or tone-deaf—well, at least not any dience, and, on the other side, criticism from more than the other Housewives installthe elite. Built on old television “soap opera” ments. It is brutally mind-numbingly and series, like “Peyton Place” and “Desperate boring – and deceiving. Housewives,” the shows have profited from We all noticed that the sale of alcohol is reexpected human interests in the lives of the stricted in Dubai, but champagne flows in rich and famous. nearly every scene. First, British Stanbury was angry because The Dubai program is the first American- she could not perform an obscene act during based but overseas-staged series and, there- a bachelorette party, fore, has attracted many American com- Second, Lesa, the Jamaican-American, has ments, particularly in major television giant $1200 blocks of ice delivered to cool networks, magazines and newspapers. down her swimming pool.

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robes, that straddle the line between enviable and absurd …”

“The Los Angeles Times”: Lorraine Ali: “No Terrorism”: “This show is not about war or terrorism. The only Middle East conflict here is among the women … But, there is no swill of Orientalism and xenophobia. The Persian Gulf metropolis is their home rather than an exotic tourist destination, or a war zone. This, itself, is a victory for a TV series set in the Arab world … But, among designer boutiques and high-end restaurants, we see women and men, moving around the city with the same arrogance and hubris of spoiled folks in New York and Orange County… Occasionally their South Asian and East Asian nannies, servers and maids make it into the show … In expanding their junk-food franchise, BraCaroline Stanbury is a newlywed from London, England. She married former Real vo has run into protest from a coalition of Madrid soccer player Sergio Carrallo in 2021 and now resides with him in Dubai and human rights groups who’ve called for the her three children she has from her previous marriage. (Chris Haston / Bravo) network to publicly oppose the violence or “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” against women and homophobia … Dubai’s series is no different. It’s still about Like the treatment of race and religion in wealthy female ferneries treating one anoth“The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” er like trash …”

The Dubai program is the first American-based but overseasstaged series and, therefore, has attracted many American comments, particularly in major television networks, magazines and newspapers.

“Yahoo News”: Brenda Alexander: “Three Blacks” “‘The Real Housewives of Dubai’ is here and it quickly became the most-talked-about show on Bravo TV. The opulence displayed on the show, along with the expected drama that ‘Housewives’ brings, is a perfect combination … But the Black cast members are getting the most reactions, and we are here for it! Aside from Housewives of Potomac and Atlanta, the Housewives of Dubai are the most

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Chanel Ayan is a model and businesswoman born in Kenya. At the beginning of ‘RHODubai’, she was working on makeup and skincare lines with celebrity makeup artist Toni Malt, called Ayan by Toni Malt and Ayan Skin. (Chris Haston / Bravo)

Lesa Milan won the Miss Jamaica pageant in 2009. Since then, she used her star power and beauty expertise to build her maternity fashion brand, Mina Roe. (Chris Haston / Bravo)

colorful or diverse, and they all bring something different. First, Model and businesswoman Chanel Ayan has worked for top fashion houses like Chanel, Tiffany, Cartier, Valentino, and Dolce & Gabbana. Second, Caroline Brooks is an Afro-Latina from the U.S. who relocated to Dubai with her now ex-husband … Third, Lesa Milan is a fashion designer and entrepreneur from Jamaica, and is a former Miss Jamaica Universe contestant. The level of wealth and access displayed on this show is unprecedented, even for a Housewives series. Some Twitter users even commented that the Dubai cast makes Beverly Hills look broke.

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The problem with The Real Housewives of Dubai is not that it is problematic, whitewashed or tone-deaf—well, at least not any more than the other Housewives installments. It makes it even better those Black women are at the center of it all. Seeing Black women this beautiful and who’ve obtained this level of success was also inspirational for viewers …”


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Arab Cinema is Participant in The Phenomenon

Immigration films from every direction looking for a better life and safety By Mohammed Rouda Since the first centuries of life, there have been no definitive statistics on who migrated to where. However, the act of emigration did not cease, either individually or collectively, either in pursuit of a dream or a desire to escape a situation, or, as is the case these days, as a result of the world’s unstable security and political conditions. According to some sources, the RussianUkrainian war alone resulted in the emigration of about 5 million Ukrainians. Previously, emigration swarmed every continent. Given that no state today is composed solely of indigenous people, the issue appears to be more complex than a single topic or investigation.

In a short scene from one of his films from the 1990s, French director JeanLuc Godard mentioned this situation when he captured a picture of a boat loaded with Palestinian immigrants on its way to sail north towards Lebanon during the great exodus of 1948, and another boat loaded with Jewish immigrants who arrived on the same Palestinian coast. The goal of the director is to say that some peoples succeeded others, thus complementing each other’s picture.

While each photograph, and both together, summarize the history of the issue that persists today, other movies have examined different themes of migration and displacement, many of them in the last two years. This year’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival revealed an exodus of which most attendees were unaware. According to this year’s film “No Dogs or Italians Allowed,” a French-Italian director named Alain Ogito created a 70-minute animation depicting his fam-

NEW MOVIES Hundreds of different movies about immigration have been released in theatres. Foreign and Arabic films are shown, non-fiction and fiction. Both live and animated. Both current and historical. Individual competition or dealing with people and groups. The current wave of movies, as well as those that came before it in recent years, covers vast areas and different times, crystallizing for the viewer parts of the larger scene created by acts of displacement and immigration.

No Dogs or Italians from the cartoon “Dogs and Italians are not Allowed.”

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“Gangs of New York” by Martin Scorsese.

ily’s migration from their small northern village in Italy to France, as well as what they endured during and after the journey when they arrived in Paris. Another immigration-themed animation film (shown at the same festival) came from Mexico, titled “Home is Somewhere Else” by Jorge Villalobos and Carlos Hagermann. This film depicts the difficulties of immigration in search of the American dream, as well as the racism that accompanies it. Tareq Daoud’s film “Yaban” was shown at this year’s Istanbul Festival. Its story is compelling because it revolves around

a mother who nearly loses custody of her young daughter due to a court decision granting her divorced husband, the girl’s father, the right to care for her. She hires a smuggler in a desperate attempt to smuggle her daughter across the border to a neighboring country. But the smuggler is greedy for more money and believes that if he had handed over the girl to her father, he could have done so. He abandons the family in a hut in the woods and sets out to organize his affairs. And there’s “Convenience Store,” an Uzbek film directed by Michael Borodin

Yaban from the Turkish movie “Yaban.”

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that was shown at the Berlin Film Festival this year, which deals with the issue of immigration and the subsequent slide into crime or even falling victim to the slave trade.

THE BIG AND LITTLE AMERICAN DREAMS

None of these films, which were made between 2021 and 2022, fail to depict a difficult social situation that deals with the dreams of immigration, its difficulties, and then its consequences. These are the same issues that cinema has addressed over the years. It’s worth noting that there’s a 1975 Turkish film called “The Bus” by Tunç Ukan about an old bus that runs from Turkey to the western border carrying illegal immigrants looking for a safe haven. Its chauffeur expertly navigates country after country until the journey concludes in a Swiss city. The driver takes the passengers’ passports and money under the guise of arranging accommodation for them, then flees with what he has, leaving men, women, and children on the bus, which is now parked on a downtown street. They spend the day inside the bus, hiding behind the window blinds for fear of being discovered. At night, they jump off the bus like rats looking for food in the garbage. The last shot of the bus from afar remains, with those on board


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The last days of the city | From “The Last Days of the City” by Tamer El Said.

waiting for an unknown day. Shortly before that year, Swede Jan Troell made two films about the fates of a Swedish family who emigrated to the American West, “The Immigrant” and “The New Land” (1972). What Troell demonstrated in approximately 400 minutes (the running time for both films) is based on a realistic transmission of what might happen to a refugee family in a new country with all of its social and moral systems. The motivation in these two films is voluntary rather than compelled by an emergency situation, which is the opposite of what was depicted in Elia Kazan’s film “America” (1963). He witnessed the Armenian victims at the hands of the Turks and shows how he sought to escape to America. It was not as good as “On the Waterfront” in 1954. He avoided McCarthyism’s accusations when he accepted the role of a left-wing whistleblower and wanted, according to sources, to emphasize his new political position, so he wrote “On the Waterfront” against labor unions and “America America” as a story of asylum in America, the land of justice and freedom. The situation is not the same in Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” or

Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America,” both of which revolve around Irish immigrants (in the first film), Jews and Italians (in the second) and their contribution to the spread of crime. The films are darker than Jim Sheridan’s British film “In America.” This 2002 drama follows the fate of an Irish family who immigrated to the new country, only to discover that their financial and social situation is no better than it was before they left. In many films, the subject of immigration to France is directly related to the pre-existing situation, such as in Mathieu Kassovitz’s “La Haine,” in which an Arab immigrant (Said Taghmaoui) collaborates with a white Frenchman (Vincent Cassel) and an African (Ubert Koundé) due to their low socioeconomic status.

IMMIGRANTS FROM FOUR COUNTRIES Many Arab and Western films have focused on Arab immigration to France and Western European countries in general. But, before we go any further, we should remember that there is ArabArab migration to and from countries in

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various situations, which pushes some to try to achieve the difficult hope. An earlier film summarizes the story of migration between Arab countries once more. The late Tawfiq Salih’s film “The Deceiver,” based on Ghassan Kanafani’s novel, deals with three Palestinians infiltrating from Jordan and wishing to reach a Gulf country, with the only way being to put them in an empty oil tank. The road is long, the day is hot, the tank is shut, and those inside eventually suffocate to death. Another example of internal migration is depicted in Tamer El-Said’s film “The Last Days of the City.” The film’s hero (also Tamer El-Said) considers emigrating but decides against it. He has three Arab friends, two from Iraq, one of whom immigrated to Berlin, and a Lebanese man who wishes to leave suffocating Beirut. Palestinian Maha Haj based “Personal Matters” (2016) on the situation of Palestinians both inside and outside their country. Danielle Arbid, a Lebanese filmmaker, made the film “Parisiya” (2016) about a Lebanese exile in France and, through it, the death of the Lebanese dream and the lost identity of the homeland. In terms of wanting to replace one home-


The man who sold his back | From Kawthar Ben Hania’s movie “The Man Who Sold His Back.”

land with another, we find the heroine of Tunisian Raja Ammari’s (2016) film “A Strange Body” striving to find a place for herself in a society she longs for but may be denied. “The Man Who Sold His Back” (2020) by another Tunisian Kawthar Ben Hania is the most famous film in this vein, about a young Syrian man who sells his back to a Belgian tatoo artist for the love of living in the West and catching up with his former fiancée.

In “Benzine” (2017), Tunisian Sarah Abidi picked up the thread of illegal immigration when parents miss their young son only to discover that he immigrated to Syria to participate in the civil war there. This is also the case in Reda Al-Bahi’s 2015 film “The Flower of Aleppo,” in which the mother disguises herself in extremist Islamic garb and follows her son to Syria to rescue him.

Baghdad in my imagination | From “Baghdad in My Fantasy” by Samir Jamal Al-Din.

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Better and less well-known is “My Son” by Muhammad Ben Attia (2018), about a family who discovers their son has infiltrated northern Syria via Turkey, so the father seeks to retrieve him by travelling to Turkey and then to the Syrian border, where he realizes he will never be able to search for him in the current situation. Samir Jamal Al-Din, an Iraqi immigrant, presented two films about Iraqi immigration to the West, the first of which is “An Iraqi Odyssey” (2015), a documentary about his family members’ dispersal between Europe and America. This is a better film than his later film “Baghdad in My Fantasy” (2018), which dealt with the story of Iraqi immigrants to London and one of the former era’s attempts to spy on them for the benefit of the New Testament. All in all, hundreds of films exist in every genre, interest, and country. Each group is attempting to communicate the experiences of immigrants in new countries or on their way there. Latinos attempting to cross the border into America. Arabs are fleeing to Europe or wherever they can. The dream grows larger, while reality grows worse.


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NEW MOVIES

By Mohammed Rouda

A Weekly Roundup of Screenings at Movie Theatres Around the World LAST SEEN ALIVE ★★★★a

◆ Directed by Brian Goodman ◆ Genre: Suspense ◆ General Screenings

The emergence of films depicting massive forces, battles, and effects, aided by the proliferation of animation films, prevents films such as “Last Seen Alive” from obtaining appropriate screening opportunities. Many critics also avert their gaze and settle for a cursory, unrepentant glance at any good film simply because it is a police or suspense film outside of the major ones. This movie is one of the casualties. A story about a couple driving to the home of the wife’s parents. They pull over at a gas station, and the wife vanishes from view as she is kidnapped by a man. What happens as a result of this situation is unpredictable (unlike in many films when you know before it happens). Gerard Butler’s (husband), Jaimie Alexander’s (wife), and Russell Hornsby’s (detective) performances are excellent, and the ending makes the viewer miss this serious and poignant style of film.

The boy will work to keep the alien from being detained by the authorities. The narrative’s familiar fluidity and the search for fault lines between young and old do their best to cast a social shadow over a topic that was new at the time.

◆ Final Judgment: Still worth watching.

THE GRAY MAN ★★

◆ Directed By Anthony Russo, Joe Russo ◆ Genre: Action ◆ International and Internet Screenings

◆ Final Judgment: Great, especially for genre enthusiasts.

E.T: THE EXTRA TERRSTRIAL ★★★ ◆ Directed By Steven Spielberg ◆ Genre: Science Fiction ◆ General Screenings

40 years after its initial release, a restored version of one of Spielberg’s most famous and successful films is returning to theatres around the world. Everything about this film shone with unusual brilliance in 1982. Looking back at him, one can see the scope of the naive emotion on which the director bases his story: an imaginative boy meets a strange alien left behind by a spacecraft.

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Despite the art of assembling flying scenes, everything is predictable. A movie based on action-packed loud sounds, scenes starring the director and punches, kicks, and hand-to12/08/22


hand effects isn’t worth $200 million. Some of these scenes are inventive, such as the battle inside a burning plane, but the effect fades when the scene ends. What comes after may not be as powerful. Ryan Gosling takes on a new (and unconvincing) role as a spy who battles everyone sent by the CIA to kill him. It is a film filled with quickly changing situations and successive battles, so that the viewer does not have to look for the story. Every few minutes, a transition between times (past and present) and several different locations in various parts of the world, causes one to succumb to follow-up rather than seek clarity.

◆ Final Judgment: It can be overlooked without remorse.

BODIES BODIES BODIES ★★

◆ Directed By Halina Reijn ◆ Genre: Horror ◆ Gulf and International Screenings

comedic tone and good writing, but the directing is similar to that of television commercials.

◆ Final Judgement: 50-50 Like Rating

BULLET TRAIN ★★

◆ Directed By David Leitch ◆ Genre: Action ◆ International Screenings

A group of friends gather in a remote house for one of them to throw a soiree party. They decide to take part in a lottery game. Whoever draws a specific card must eliminate one member of the two groups. There are powerful moments of mystery and horror, but the script (along with the film) introduces a tedious repetition. There are some arrows in the plot aimed at the wealthy who do not have higher goals in life, but this is also true of the film.

◆ Final Judgment: From horror to cheap murder.

EASTER SUNDAY ★★

◆ Directed By Jay Chandrasekhar ◆ Genre: Comedy ◆ International Screenings

Actor Jo Koy, whose character the film revolves around, is a successful television comedian, and this is his first film woven from the story of Asian-American Ken Cheng, which is full of contrasts between every two or more people. It tells the story of a large family that comes together to celebrate Easter. One of them is actor Joe, who must spend time resolving unexpected family conflicts. The film has a good

Brad Pitt has announced that his time as an actor is coming to an end. Given the quality of this film, he should follow it up with a better film so that people don’t remember him negatively. It’s a highly fabricated story about a half-dozen train-car passengers, each of whom has a bag of cash to keep. They are not just any passengers, but professional killers, including Brad Pitt, who has had much better films and roles than this one.

◆ Final Judgment: It looks like a snippet from previous films.

Ratings: ★ Weak or average | ★★: Mediocre with merits| ★★★: Good | ★★★★: Excellent | ★★★★★: A masterpiece 49

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The Anxiety of No Influence

What To Do When Vague Acquaintance Wins Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Bryn Haworth For some time prior to my last article, the one entitled Brain Fog, I had been preoccupied with the question of stupidity. The phrase ‘brain fog’ locates this preoccupation around the pandemic, but in fact it predates that strange period by a considerable margin. Maybe it can be tracked all the way back to the referendum. More recently, however, my solid conviction that the species taken as a whole, and leaving aside the honourable exceptions, was markedly more stupid than me has taken a battering. Stupidity has kept surprising me, which makes me feel like the stupid one here. It has introduced a real quandary, because if I am in actual fact stupid, how can I claim any longer to be able to assess stupidity in others? Now before anyone accuses me of hopeless self-absorption, I freely admit that my own stupidity has only started to fascinate me this year. It began when my confident assumption that I could predict the major currents of history, based on the success of numerous previous predictions, was rudely overturned. As the Russian army gathered around the borders, I was as nervous as everyone else that the unthinkable might happen by accident. At the same time, in common with most intelligent people, I knew Putin was not stupid enough to believe his own propaganda and actually invade. When you have little influence over events, your only recourse is to predictions. In my case, I have no influence in the world beyond the installation of nest boxes for the swifts. This impotence has elevated me to the status of a seer. I don’t wish to dwell too long on this world-historical instance of stupidity demonstrating hidden depths, but getting caught out in this way, by a decision too profoundly stupid for mere intelligence to fathom, has had a devastating effect on my confidence. I’d say the devastation is analogous to the blowback from Western sanctions against Russia. Just as the ‘intelligent’ assessment of events was revealed to be the stupidest one, so the West has ended up suffering most from the sanctions it imposed. It’s as if there is something invulnerable about Stupidity. It wears an invisible bullet-proof carapace, like a force field. By being more stupid than we think it is, Stupidity is able to outsmart us every time, even the best-aimed bullets simply bounce back and kill its enemy.

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A failure of intelligence, as they say in Whitehall. I had to do something, quick, to restore faith in my mental faculties. When it comes to failure, my instincts are infallible. Faced by a sense of my own inferior intelligence, I strayed back into the groves of Academe where I’d first learnt to dispraise it. I returned to the vomit of Lit. Crit., only to find that I was the vomit. Actually, I can track the loss of confidence back some time before Academe, to school. It began with Shakespeare. I don’t want to be too hard on him, God knows the Bard has come in for a lot of stick over the years, from his contemporary Greene to the magisterial Tolstoy, then Wittgenstein (who couldn’t stand him) and of course, in more recent times, the very erudite Mark Rylance. My own perceptions of the great playwright were more conventional. I was lost in admiration. I thought he was too perfect ever to have existed. Then I thought he must be someone else. Then I thought he must have been a committee, King James’ Bible style. The fact is that from the age of around fourteen I began to read him with rapt wonder at the poetry, the dramaturgy, the all-round brilliance of the thing. I wanted to be a writer, but as Joseph Heller said somewhere, every writer wishes he’d been Shakespeare. When presented with such perfection and – for the purposes of this argument – with such utterly transcendent influence, who would not want to have been that person? Is this simply the cross every aspiring writer in English has to bear? Possibly. On the other hand, my confidence being as low as I have described, I wonder if my stupidity made it impossible to get out from under the big fat arse of Shakespeare’s genius. I recall a story told by an older brother who sat on his younger sibling’s head, threatening to fart and saying “As far as you’re concerned, I am God!” There are so many worrisome theological aspects to that statement. The fact is, though, that Shakespeare sat on my imagination like some bastard brother for years. I could not simply read him and enjoy his plays, on stage or page, nor could I admire him with a kind of critical detachment. What I did was read him with a view to working out how he was so good. I wanted the secret. I was, unwittingly, a more anxious version of the famous chimpanzee which, given enough time, will be able to come up with the complete works by randomly banging away at a keyboard. Like Heller, I wanted to be Shakespeare, 12/08/22


Now before anyone accuses me of hopeless self-absorption, I freely admit that my own stupidity has only started to fascinate me this year.

Don Quixote

and so every reading or attendance at one of his plays was an effort. I was more self-conscious than bloody Hamlet and, of course, equally constipated. I was expecting no less of myself than to outdo the Bard, presumably by solving the mystery of how he did it first, then doing that thing he did myself, and then, at the end of this laborious process, out-barding the Bard altogether. That would have been strong of me, since the anxiety I suffered was the same as Harold Bloom describes: ‘The poet in every reader does not experience the same disjunction from what he reads that the critic in every reader necessarily feels. What gives pleasure to the critic in a reader may give anxiety to the poet in him, an anxiety we have learned, as readers, to neglect, to our own loss and peril. This anxiety, this mode of melancholy, is the anxiety of influence, the dark and daemonic ground upon which we now enter…’ Dark and daemonic ground indeed. A reader like I was makes a pretty useless critic, due to an inability to read without the anxiety of frustrated emulation. I shall come to Bloom later, since he has precipitated me into this whole nightmare of introspection. But first, a complaint: why is it that some of my brightest ideas turn out to have occurred to other people already? I could list the instances ad nauseam, as it really is a question of nausea. For the present need, two will suffice. The first concerns Goya’s Maja, dressed and undressed. In a flash of inspiration, I had the bright idea this might be an early version of the pens we had at school, the ones where you saw a lady dressed if the pen was held one way up, but if you turned the pen the other way up, she slowly stripped till she was fully naked. The slowness was something to do with the movement of the ink. This

idea was so pleasing to me that I photoshopped my own versions (see above) and posted them on Instagram. Imagine my chagrin, therefore, when, but a few months later, I was watching an episode of The Great Artists with Goya as its subject. There was Tim Marlow, casual as you like, telling us all about Goya at his usual breakneck speed. It was late at night; I was mostly wondering how he could speak so quickly without making a hash of it. Then, when he came to the Maja paintings, and as if in parenthesis, I heard him declare that they were basically the prototype for a novelty pen where the lady takes her clothes off. This was a major irritation. It actually spoilt things for me. First, there was the fact that my bright idea was nothing new; that someone had got there first and, as it seemed to my chagrin, nicked it. But it was also galling that he had failed to do much with the idea, obviously thinking it was a throwaway remark, whereas I (in my plodding stupidity) had gone to the trouble of realising it, thinking I was oh so clever to have done so. The second such revelation of my own lack of originality is more serious perhaps and it relates to Harold Bloom, of whom I have reason to speak in more detail later. For the moment, let me say how painful it was for me when I read his Anxiety of Influence for the first time and discovered that he’d used the concept of the ‘clinamen’ or swerve from Lucretius to explain how strong poets managed to misread, and thus outdo, their predecessors. That, by the way, would be the very swerve I was not nimble or agile enough to pull off as a victim of Shakespeare’s suffocating behind. The weak writer gets sat upon, leading to second rate imitations of the predecessor, and the sorry oblivion he or she deserves. I may be a different version of this particular phenomenon, as it is even harder to swerve to avoid an influence one is entirely oblivious to. In the case of Tim Marlow, the casually brilliant (though I say so myself) observer of Francisco Goya, I had no way of knowing the idea had already been had. Likewise with Bloom, I had separately and independently drawn upon an ancient writer for a theory of failure and inspiration which, to my eternal shame and massive relief, never got written. I shook hands with Jacques Derrida once (I shall have much more to say about hands shaking in due course) as my supervisor introduced me as a researcher into failure, at which he very wittily wished me “Good luck!” Little did he or anyone present, least of all my hapless supervisor, suspect that the essence of my doctoral thesis had already been anticipated by the most prominent literary critic of the age. This, then, was a case of no-anxiety-about-a-complete-lack-of-influence, which would have been the result if I had walked out of my very first Shakespeare class and refused, on pain of death or detention, ever to read a single

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syllable of recorded time – ahem, sorry, letting my esteem for the great man get the better of me again – a single syllable of the indispensable genius of the English language. Turning to the Spanish again for a moment, though sadly without reverting to the topic of novelty pens, there is a wonderful story by Jorge Luis Borges concerning the capacious hind parts of their most enthroned writer, the inevitable Miguel de Cervantes, which deals obliquely with the anxiety of influence and effectively defuses the bomb, even before Bloom had time to plant it. Some small revenge for me there, then. The story goes that a Frenchman by the name of Pierre Menard, recently deceased, was so great an admirer of his illustrious predecessor, Cervantes, that he attempted the impossible thing I myself had attempted with regard to the Spaniard’s near contemporary over in Southwark; in short, to be Cervantes. Now this is perfectly understandable. What Heller neglected to point out, after all, was that any aspiring novelist would give their left arm to have been Cervantes, the true founder of that genre, the writer who, at a stroke, made a work of such perfection that there could be no great novel after Don Quixote, any more than there could be any great poem after Homer’s Iliad, not even the Odyssey, or any great play after the first (or was it the second?) folio. Like all the illustrious predecessors, he is the Arse to whom we latecomers are but Grooms of the Stool. Sure, Montaigne remarked – I paraphrase somewhat – that even the highest throne in the world has some arse or other on it, but that doesn’t much bother the arse. Yet another case of Stupidity’s invulnerability. According to Borges’s overawed narrator, Menard had some form when it came to attempting the impossible. Among the list of his works is this one, designated as e): ‘a technical article on the possibility of enriching the game of chess by eliminating one of the rook›s pawns (Menard proposes, recommends, debates, and finally rejects this innovation)’ It goes without saying that, had Menard succeeded, and had the game of chess actually been enriched by so simple a swerve away from the accepted rules, his name would now be ranked alongside the most celebrated grandmasters. But maybe swerving of that kind was too drastic, too obvious, and simply not difficult or futile enough to be worth the candle. (There

are times when the account of Menard verges on the Pythonesque). What the Frenchman pulls off, according to the overawed narrator, is ‘a task of infinite complexity, a task futile from the outset.’ His work, ‘perhaps the most significant writing of our time,’ consists of the ninth and thirty-eighth chapters of Part I of Don Quixote and a fragment of Chapter XXII. However, he ‘did not want to compose another Quixote, which surely is easy enough – he wanted to compose the Quixote.’ I should stress at this point that the accomplishments of Pierre Menard did not spring fully-formed, as it were, from the head of Zeus. Early on in his life’s work he had taken some wrong turnings. For example, at one stage he foolishly undertook a literal identification with the dead master: ‘Initially, Menard›s method was to be relatively simple: Learn Spanish, return to Catholicism, fight against the Moor or Turk, forget the history of Europe from 1602 to 1918 – be Miguel de Cervantes. Pierre Menard weighed that course (I know he pretty thoroughly mastered seventeenth-century Castilian) but he discarded it as too easy. Too impossible, rather, the reader will say. Quite so, but the undertaking was impossible from the outset, and of all the impossible ways of bringing it about, this was the least interesting. To be a popular novelist of the seventeenth century in the twentieth seemed to Menard

Dark and daemonic ground indeed. A reader like I was makes a pretty useless critic, due to an inability to read without the anxiety of frustrated emulation. Dressed Maja

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It’s as if there is something invulnerable about Stupidity. It wears an invisible bullet-proof carapace, like a force field.

Undressed Maja

to be a diminution.’ Instead, he resolves to come to Don Quixote ‘through the experiences of Pierre Menard.’ Thus, in a letter to the narrator, Menard declares: «The task I have undertaken is not in essence difficult... If I could just be immortal, I could do it.» How poignantly that sentence reads, now that its author is dead. Nonetheless, despite the time limitations, the results are so impressive that the awestruck narrator actually prefers his friend’s efforts to those of Cervantes. He praises the later writer’s avoidance of local colour, for instance, eschewing all reference to ‘gypsy goings-on or conquistadors or mystics or Philip II’s or autos-da-fé.’ He can be politely critical too. He dislikes what he perceives as an archaic and slightly affected style in Menard, though this is understandable in a non-native speaker, whereas Cervantes ‘employs the Spanish of his time with complete naturalness’. All this can best be illustrated by the precious extracts Borges gives us, first from the original and then from Menard’s own version. The contrast between the two, though powerful, is, I think we can agree, by no means self-explanatory, hence I shall quote at length the remarks of the overawed narrator: ‘It is a revelation to compare the Don Quixote of Pierre Menard with that of Miguel de Cervantes. Cervantes, for example, wrote the following (Part I, Chapter IX): ...truth, whose mother is history, rival of time, depository of deeds, witness of the past, exemplar and adviser to the present, and the future›s counsellor. This catalogue of attributes, written in the seventeenth century, and written by the “ingenious layman” Miguel de Cervantes, is mere rhetorical praise of history. Menard, on the other hand, writes: ...truth, whose mother is history, rival of time, depository of deeds, witness of the past, exemplar and adviser to the present, and the future›s counsellor.

kate Moss

History, the mother of truth! – the idea is staggering. Menard, a contemporary of William James, defines history not as a delving into reality, but as the very fount of reality. Historical truth, for Menard, is not «what happened»; it is what we believe happened. The final phrases – exemplar and adviser to the present, and the future›s counsellor – are brazenly pragmatic…’ And so on. No one would begrudge the Frenchman the nature of his accomplishment, however small a fraction of the original tome. The miracle is how this little could ever have been achieved. Yet the way he did this is, sadly, lost to posterity. Menard’s ‘final’ Quixote, the narrator declares, can be seen as ‘a kind of palimpsest, in which the

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Roman ruins near Nîmes: as good a place as any to burn your bridges

traces – faint but not undecipherable – of our friend›s “previous” text must shine through.’ This is a reference to the endless drafts that went into the production of the final Quixote. ‘Unfortunately,’ continues the narrator, ‘only a second Pierre Menard, reversing the labours of the first, would be able to exhume and revive those Troys...’ Alas, not for the first time, the topless towers of Ilium (as Marlowe called them) have been burnt. It’s a fanciful comparison. But drafts of what nature exactly? Presumably, attempts at rewriting the book, but if Menard was so keen, like his own more reliable Max Brod, to destroy these defective attempts, how would the narrator ever be able to prove they existed and thus go some way to refuting the charge that he was even madder than Menard himself? This enigma is resolved in a cunning footnote: ‘I recall his square-ruled notebooks, his black crossings-out, his peculiar typographical symbols, and his insectlike handwriting. In the evening, he liked to go out for walks on the outskirts of Nîmes; he would often carry along a notebook and make

The story goes that a Frenchman by the name of Pierre Menard, recently deceased, was so great an admirer of his illustrious predecessor, Cervantes, that he attempted the impossible thing I myself had attempted with regard to the Spaniard’s near contemporary over in Southwark; in short, to be Cervantes. 54

a cheery bonfire.’ With this cheerful destruction of his notes, Menard ensures that only the perfected work, which to all intents and purposes already existed, survives the flames. Cheerfulness replaces Bloomian anxiety. The outcome, in relation to the great precursor, is to be neither a strong, nor a weak, writer. It is as if the book-mad knight, having succumbed to the confusion of fiction with reality, redeems his writers from theirs, and what Bloom calls the agon, futile as any struggle, ends in a truce between them whereby both can find peace, the ‘precursor’ and the ‘ephebe’ alike: ‘Only yesterday we were gathered before his marmoreal place of rest, among the dreary cypresses.’ It was not my intention to get lost in the anxieties of influence. I’ve always found it prudent to avoid Harold Bloom whenever possible. Then I came across a book that had won the Pulitzer Prize and was receiving startling acclaim from all quarters. I had never seen so many overawed critics. One piece in the Guardian went so far as to use the word ‘genius’. It was enough to make me want to avert my eyes, just as one might from overenthusiastic lovers, and mutter “Get a room!” I honestly didn›t know people still indulged in this kind of naked lionising. Then I read the others. They were all falling over themselves to heap more praise. One writer even used ‹pretentious› as a compliment. The real shock, however, was finding out that this work of surpassing brilliance had been written by a person I’d once known. Vaguely. Many years ago. Little did I suspect back then that this slightly ridiculous character, who never had anything to say that wasn’t literary in one way or another, who had got himself a job in a bookshop in order to read and still look busy, and who qualified as possibly the most unprepossessing individual in any room, was the embryo of a titan. I confess that this represents another one of those moments that – in the long, unforgiving perspective of twenty years – makes me feel more stupid than Putin. The thing that made it more excruciating still, was the conviction I remembered having at the time that no good would ever come of all that reading, that this future giant had read too 12/08/22


Over-sensitive to criticism?

much and could never meet Bloom’s requirements for a strong writer – he simply had too much to overcome. How wrong can one be? Much more than we will ever know. It turns out that, just as money attracts money, books grow from books. Bloom could have told me that, of course, but I’d stubbornly refused to listen. So, naturally, I bought the book, and there in the front was a dedication to Harold Bloom. This is how literary criticism returns to bite you. Now consider this, and it relates to Bloom’s interest in the Romantics, so not entirely tangential: I have the opportunity to write a bad review if I so choose, even if I don’t think the book deserves one, out of sheer spite. My personal knowledge of the writer could so grossly affect my judgement, that I would write a piece as excoriating – it’s the word, after all – as the awestruck narrator’s was laudatory. What hope was there of a balanced, considered appraisal, after what I just said about his effect on a room? And what if my review were to have a bad effect, just like the one that killed Keats, supposedly? Then I’d have the death of a genius on my conscience. Byron was very unkind on the subject when he wrote in Don Juan, ‹Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle, Should let itself be snuff›d out by an article. I’d never be able to live with myself. But no, I reasoned, if I remember anything about him, I don’t think he’s the type to be slain by a critic, least not one of such diminutive stature with no influence over his world, the literary one, or over the big wide world for that matter. No, he was proof against my barbs. If anyone was in danger of being snuffed out by an article, it was little ol’ me. Still, the fact we had met niggled me. Far from the usual six degrees of separation, this was not even one degree. My anxiety centred on whether we’d ever shaken hands. Obviously, I had been in close enough proximity to do so, but had I actually shaken it? This bugged me for some reason. Around that time, I’d shaken Arthur Miller’s hand, but that was chiefly a thrill for me because, as I saw it, his hand had once been on intimate

Kate, as seen through a flute

The second such revelation of my own lack of originality is more serious perhaps and it relates to Harold Bloom, of whom I have reason to speak in more detail later. terms with Marilyn Monroe. If he was half decent, he’d never have washed that hand since. In fact, my whole motivation for shaking his hand, though he probably never suspected it, was to commune with Marilyn across eternity. It was, therefore, a very ulterior handshake. On a separate, unrelated occasion I shook hands with a startled Kate Moss at Christie’s, having pursued her through a haze of free champagne for an entire evening. I even took this blurry photograph, unabashed by the fact that I was surrounded by portraits of her taken by some of the best photographers alive today. This brush with fame was nothing to do with where her hand had been, on whose erogenous zones, since her hand in itself far surpassed the glamour of anyone else’s. Yet the touch was important. Maybe I really am more stupid than I will ever truly know. I am an occultist of sorts, I crave contact with the legendary, who are the nearest we have to the immortals, as if in some manner I am cheating death the same way they do. Still, I had failed to recognise one particular immortal when he was sitting right next to me, behind a bookshop counter, engrossed in some book and oblivious to a customer standing right in front of him, eager to make a purchase. In my own unerring way, I’d been more oblivious than he was, I had failed to see his fame coming. So, what does one do when an acquaintance wins the Pulitzer Prize? Clearly, one tries not to think about it much. Not, that is, till the next article.

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T

echnology

Homes That Could Withstand Brutal Heatwaves

Retrofitting Buildings to Stay Warmer in Winter and Cooler in Summer Will Cut Carbon By Ran Boydell Buildings are designed to keep people safe and comfortable according to the local climate: warm when it’s cold outside, dry when it’s wet, and sheltered when it’s stormy. If the climate changes, buildings may struggle to serve our needs in the new conditions. The U.K.’s recent 40°C heatwave showed that many existing structures– especially the homes where we spend two-thirds of our lives–aren’t up to the task.

Older people with existing health problems are among the most vulnerable during hot weather, as the heat can exacerbate potentially fatal conditions such as respiratory and heart diseases and even Alzheimer’s. An early estimate suggests as many as 1,000 excess deaths may have occurred in England and Wales as a result of the threeday heatwave in mid-July 2022. Each country must upgrade its buildings to keep people safe as the world warms. This is part of what climate

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change experts call adaptation. The other half of that obligation is mitigation: cutting emissions as fast possible to minimize the temperature increase. By adapting homes to withstand stronger heatwaves, countries have an opportunity to meet both needs at the same time. You will have heard some of the solutions for decarbonizing buildings: increased roof and wall insulation and double-glazed windows for energy efficiency, and replacing gas boilers with alternatives such as heat pumps which can run on renewable electricity. These same measures will also help people stay safe during future heatwaves.

Shutters have been used for centuries in hot countries to banish the midday sun. (Credit: Julian Elliott Photography/Getty Images)

If homes need less energy to heat or cool because they have been made more energy efficient, it would help reduce (and perhaps even eradicate) fuel poverty.

change is frustrating. Insulating buildings would help permanently lower energy bills for millions, but the U.K. government has starved energy efficiency measures of reJust as better insulation keeps warm air inside during sources over the past decade. Recently, plans were abanwinter, it keeps it outside during summer. Shutters or doned that would have doubled funding for low-income blinds that block sunlight are a simple option for lower- households to become more energy efficient. Meanwhile, ing indoor temperatures by keeping out even more heat. It the U.K.’s newly built homes suffer from much of the even helps to paint roofs a light color to better reflects the same poor insulation as older ones. sun’s rays. In the Australian state of New South Wales, a policy to completely ban dark roofs was recently con- Some countries are being more proactive. Italian homesidered. owners can claim 110% of the cost of energy efficiency improvements against their taxes, up to €100,000 over Most homes in the U.K. are heated with gas boilers but five years. That is more than enough to upgrade a house have no equivalent system for cooling. Heat pumps can to net-zero standard, estimated at £26,000 in the U.K. help. These machines are essentially refrigerators working backwards. Where a fridge sucks heat from its inte- If homes need less energy to heat or cool because they rior and disperses it through the coils on its back, a heat have been made more energy efficient, it would help repump sucks the heat from the air (or ground) outside and duce (and perhaps even eradicate) fuel poverty. If they transfers it to the inside of your house to keep you warm are able to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures in winter. The process runs on electricity, so it does this and air quality through better ventilation, they can betwithout needing to burn gas. ter accommodate people working or learning from home Heat pumps can be programmed to work a reverse cycle, should there be another pandemic. allowing them to pump cold water rather than hot through the radiators in summer. But this cooling cycle has to And, if the technology is powered by a dispersed renewbe built into the heat pump system when it’s installed– able energy network, comprised of rooftop solar panels it’s not as simple as flicking a switch. Unfortunately, the feeding excess energy to the grid, society will be more U.K. government offers little guidance. The Energy Sav- resilient to future spikes in the price of energy. Beyond ing Trust, a government body tasked with making homes any benefits these actions might have for tackling climate more energy efficient, neglects even to mention in its change, they simply reflect the reality of modern life. guide to heat pumps that they are capable of cooling. The solutions are simple, but implementing them will be The rate at which heat pumps are installed almost dou- complex–all countries must coordinate their responses bled during 2021 in the U.K. As a result, there will be more effectively. A lot of money, both public and primany homes with new heat pumps, funded with public vate, will be spent on cutting emissions to net zero. Unsubsidies, that can only provide heating. less countries plan for adapting to rising temperatures at the same time, the opportunity for more comfortable, reBETTER HOMES OVERALL silient, and livable homes will be lost. This lack of foresight in national responses to climate

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This article was originally published by Fast Company.


H

ealth

The Little Things That Can Improve Your Health

Schedule These Simple Yet Effective Activities Throughout Your Day

By Heidi Godman Eating a plant-based diet, exercising, controlling weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and getting enough sleep are all pillars of a healthy lifestyle. They’re linked to lower risks of chronic disease and a longer life. Many other activities contribute to good health, too. Some seem so minor that it’s easy to forget about them, especially when you’re focused on the big goals of exercising and eating nutritious meals. Use this guide to help you fit more “little things” into your day.

EVERY HALF-HOUR

Set a timer and take a break every 30 minutes to do the following activities. Get up and move. Too much sitting is associated with increased risks for obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and early death. On the flip side, moving -- even just a little -- is linked with reduced risks for chronic disease. An activity break doesn’t have to be fancy. For example: “Just standing up helps improve how your body uses blood sugar,” says I-Min Lee, a senior exercise researcher and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She suggests giving this routine a try every 30 minutes: Stand up, reach your arms to the sky, stretch, and twist your trunk to the left and right. Then walk around to get your heart and lungs working a little harder. You might do a quick household chore (unload a dishwasher, fold a load of laundry), climb up and down the stairs, get the mail, or dance to a favorite song. “Make sure you move your arms and legs. That’s good for your muscles, which get tight when you sit too long. And it’s good for your posture, which tends to be hunched on a couch and slouched at a desk,” Lee says. Drink a little water. Staying hydrated keeps every cell in your body functioning well. And it takes a concerted effort to make sure you’re getting enough fluids (which can come from water, juice, or watery foods like berries or soup). To find out how much fluid your body

needs, divide your body weight in pounds by 3. (For instance, a 144-pound person would need 48 ounces of fluids per day, or about six cups.) If you don’t want to guzzle a cup of water here or there, just drink an ounce or two every half-hour. You’ll ensure that you’ve met your hydration needs by the end of the day.

EVERY FEW HOURS

It’s important to practice some habits every few hours. Schedule them at times when it makes the most sense for your day, such as a break in between two tasks. Have a snack. “Smaller, more frequent meals can help you keep up your energy, keep your blood sugar levels stable, and increase the variety of foods in your diet,” says Liz Moore, a registered dietitian at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She recommends having a small snack between a light breakfast and lunch, and then another between a light lunch and dinner. “It needs to be nutritious. Combine protein and carbohydrates to keep it filling and well balanced,” Moore advises. What makes a great snack? Moore recommends half a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt with berries, a handful of nuts, an apple or banana with a spoonful of peanut butter, half a cup of whole-grain cereal with milk, a hard-boiled egg with whole-grain crackers, or even just a small portion of leftovers from your last meal. Be mindful. Being mindful is being present in the moment and taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings you’re experiencing. Practice mindfulness by simply stopping what you’re doing and focusing on what your senses pick up. While washing your hands, for example, notice the temperature of the water, how your hands glide over each other, what the soap smells like, how the process makes you feel. Or go on a brief mindful walk outside, observing the shapes and colors of leaves on the trees, the smell in the air, the sounds of birds, and how it all makes you feel. This process of being mindful is associated with reduced stress and anxiety; improvements in sleep, mood, focus, and concentration; and better management of pain and chronic disease.

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Young happy woman smiling and talking with colleague. Credit: (Pexels)

Use eye drops. It takes only the blink of an eye to keep your eyes moist -- literally. Blinking stimulates the production of tears and oils that lubricate the eye surface. Aging slows tear production, and when you add a lot of electronic screen time to your day -- watching TV or looking at a smartphone or computer, which makes us stare more and blink less -- we can get dry eyes. The fix is using artificial tears periodically throughout day. The drops don’t have to be preservative-free unless you use them more than six times per day.

ONCE A DAY

Some activities bring rewards just by doing them once a day. Make time for the following. Learn something new. Learning strengthens existing brain cell connections (synapses) and makes new ones, which helps keep thinking and memory sharp. The more synapses you build, the better shape you’ll be in later, as you start to lose synapses naturally with age. Schedule a time each day to learn something new, whether you watch part of a documentary, listen to a new type of music, read a nonfiction book, or watch an interesting lecture on YouTube (search “university lecture” for endless options). “Write down what you learn and share the information with someone in your life. That reinforces the recording process in the brain and helps you retain the information better,” says Dr. Andrew Budson, a neurologist and chief of Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology at the VA Boston Healthcare System. Chat with someone outside your household. Social connection thoroughly engages the brain. And when you have an enjoyable or meaningful interaction with someone, it increases brain cell connections, boosts mood, reduces isolation and loneliness, and may play a role in reducing the risk for chronic disease and pre-

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It’s important to practice some habits every few hours. Schedule them at times when it makes the most sense for your day, such as a break in between two tasks. mature death. Try to schedule some sort of social connection at least once per day. It may just be a phone visit with a friend or a chat with a neighbor. “And if it’s someone you don’t see every day, that’s even better,” Dr. Budson says, “because it will facilitate new connections in your brain, rather than simply strengthening existing ones.” Meditate. Meditating activates the relaxation response, the antidote to the body’s stress response. In the short term, stress temporarily triggers a cascade of physiological changes that prepare us for “fight or flight.” If we’re always stressed, however, those effects can lead to chronic inflammation, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and more. Eliciting the relaxation response at least once a day, by meditating for example, helps reduce stress and makes you better at coping with it. There are lots of ways to meditate, such as doing 10 or 15 minutes of deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness, or transcendental meditation. This article was originally published by Harvard Health Letter.


Po

rt

ra

it

Brad Pitt: Inside the Actor’s History By Majalla Illustration by Jeannette Khouri

television shows and his love for the art of acting made him leave his university studies shortly before graduatBrad Pitt’s movie “Bullet Train” arrived ing. with a $30.1 million opening weekend, Pitt decided to move to Los Angeles according to studio estimates, as the last and enrolled in one of the institutes there big movie of Hollywood’s summer re- in order to receive acting lessons, but at covery. But what is the history of the the time he only earned an amount of 325 dollars per month. famous US actor? Pitt is an American actor and film pro- Therefore, he had to work at several ducer who has risen to fame in stages menial jobs at the time in order to save and has become one of the most famous for the institute’s fees. Hollywood stars in the entire world. He worked as a waiter in restaurants Born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, USA, and a limousine driver to transport perhe spent his childhood and grew up in forming artists. He was lucky and met a Missouri. Brad’s real name is William television camera for the first time with a small role in the famous American seBradley Pitt. Pitt is the eldest son of his father, Wil- ries Dallas in 1987. liam Alvin Pitt, who was a manager in In the same year, Pitt also appeared in a transportation company in Springfield, the movie No Man’s Land, and, after its Missouri, and his mother, Jane Etta Pitt. director was impressed by Brad’s talent, He has one brother, Doug Pitt, and a he was set on the path to stardom and began to act in many films. However, younger sister, Julie Pitt Neal. Pitt received his high school education these were small roles, until he got the in Missouri, and expressed his energy absolute starring role in the movie The Dark Side of the Sun. by participating in high school sports. He then enrolled at the University of He has received several awards, inMissouri where he studied journalism cluding the Golden Globe Awards and and advertizing. He presented several an Academy Award for his acting, as

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well as another Academy Award and an Emmy Award as a producer under his production company Plan B Entertainment. Pitt starred in Fight Club (1999) and the heist film Ocean’s Eleven (2001), as well as its sequels, Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007). His greatest commercial successes were Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Troy (2004), Mr & Ms Smith (2005), World War Z (2013), and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), for which he won his second Golden Globe Award and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. As a public figure, Pitt has been cited as one of the most influential and powerful people in the American entertainment industry. For a number of years, he has been designated as the world’s sexiest man by various media, and his personal life is the subject of extensive publicity. From 2000 to 2005, he was married to actress Jennifer Aniston, and, from 2014 to 2019, he was married to actress Angelina Jolie. Pitt and Jolie have six children together, three of whom have been adopted internationally.



o

pinion

Bargaining Strength and Wages

By Saif Al-Abri

Owing to globalization and automation, market mechanisms have made labor, especially that of low skill, very available and in abundance .

In many advanced economies, wages have stagnated and labor’s share of the country›s income has been diminishing. This has resulted in growing inequality and concern about the future of economic growth as it is consumer purchasing ability that drives the economy (as they stimulate demand). The reason has been usually attributed to globalization and technological progress. However, they often ignore the significance of institutional factors. In this article, we will explore other factors of importance. The main reason cited for the stagnation of wages is most usually market forces. The literature mentions the dual tendency of economies in this technological age in which there is a limited amount of work in high productivity/ high wage industries, and plentiful work in low productivity/ low wage industries. Owing to globalization and automation, market mechanisms have made labor, especially that of low skill, very available and in abundance (automation and outsourcing). Both factors lead to stagnating wages and a diminishing labor share of the country›s income. However, this doesn’t seem to consider that high-wage work was always limited and that historically, as shown by Mishel and Biven (2017), automation in the past has not resulted in stagnating or decreasing real wages but, quite the opposite, it led to better conditions and higher wages. As such, to account for stagnating wages, we have to consider institutional factors. The bargaining strength of employers and employees plays a more significant role than is often discussed. Since 1970, there has been a push for laws against union and labor rights laws. This is mentioned in a study conducted by Stansbury and Summer. They state that “changes in policy, norms, and institutions”

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lead to a “legal and political environment … in favor of shareholders and against workers.” The power of unions to strike and other activities were diminished. Furthermore, there have been changes in business organization structures since 1990 as analyzed by Weil (2014). Managers were more pressured to produce value for shareholders and such then unconventional methods as outsourcing were used. Both factors have diminished the bargaining strength of workers to determine wages. The usefulness of unions has been repeatedly shown. For instance, unions often lead to wage premiums ranging from -10to %20 (Walters and Mishel, 2003), and “For median…does the writer mean ‘menial’…. workers, declining unionization translates to a loss of 1.56$ per hour worked,” (Mishel, 2021). In addition, an example that clearly demonstrates the role of bargaining strength in determining wages is when a corporation is the only buyer of labor (for instance, Amazon). Due to it being the only buyer of labor, they have greater bargaining strength in determining the wage leading to its decrease (What Amazon does, 2018). …Is this a book or what is it?.... This clearly shows that the balance of bargaining strength plays a role in determining wages. It seems this push for the narrative that inequality caused by real wage stagnation is primarily due to market dynamics rather than the political and social institutions - human factors- is obstructing the development of effective policy. Policies allowing workers more strength, for instance, allowing unions more power, wage transparency, and safety nets, will help solve the issue.