Best of the Moment
Greg Elder | Medium | 29th June 2013
On the work of Médecins sans Frontières in rebel-held Syria. "Syria had a pretty decent level of health care before; middle-aged people with hypertension and diabetes were in care, kids were getting vaccinated. And then suddenly it just stopped. At the beginning of a conflict, all the attention goes to trauma cases, but you start to get people who have fallen out of the regular care they were getting"
Quentin Peel | Financial Times | 30th June 2013
This could almost be satire, but it isn't. German Chancellor Merkel pursues a political strategy of "asymmetric demobilisation". Which means, roughly speaking, boring people into acquiescence. No vision stuff. Make the world seem safe and dull. "Voters are lulled into a sense of security. The idea is that if you persuade more of your opponents to stay at home than your own supporters, you are on to a winning formula" (Metered paywall)
Mikhail Shishkin | The New Republic | 1st July 2013
Short and rather brilliant history of Russian culture. "Poets appeared in Russia in the eighteenth century. They wore officers’ uniforms and mostly wrote odes for the accession of German empresses onto the Russian throne. In a country where life was lived according to the wartime principle of unity of command, everyone including poets served the government, which was personified by the autocracy. But everything changed with Pushkin"
Terry Eagleton | Chronicle Review | 1st July 2013
Observations on the American character. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek. "The good news about the citizens of this kindly, violent, bigoted, generous-spirited nation is that if ever the planet is plunged into nuclear war, they will be the first to crawl over the edge of the crater, dust themselves down, and proceed to build a new world. The bad news is that they will probably have started the war"
Patrick Radden Keefe | New Yorker | 1st July 2013
"When you disembark from a plane in Conakry, the corruption hits you almost as quickly as the heat. At the airport, a uniformed officer will stop you, raising no specific objections but making it clear, with his body, that your exit from the situation will be transactional". Epic tale of Israeli diamond billionaire who was given Guinea's iron-ore reserves for next to nothing. Now a new government wants them back
Thought for the day:
"The practice of violence changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world"— Hannah Arendt