Showing posts with label New York Times. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York Times. Show all posts

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Must Reads: Middle East Minority Perspectives

Some important international headlines to ponder, glued as we've been to East Coast hurricane news and U.S. presidential campaign coverage:

The largest Christian denomination in the Middle East, the Coptic Orthodox in Egypt, named a new leader this weekend, the BBC reports. The photos are inspiring, with an explanation of how the choice among the top-three candidates was left "in the hands of God."

From the New Yorker: An absolutely gripping tale about a U.S. Iraq war veteran who, tormented by a battle where Americans killed civilians including three members of an Armenian Christian family, sought out his victims' relatives now living in California. In a story highlighed by NPR and Charlie Rose, read how Dexter Filkins' interviews at a Baghdad hospital and subsequent stories facilitated forgiveness from the sins of war. Journalism at its best.

Then, a BBC essay on Izmir, the West Coast city once called Smyrna. It is among the Turkish locales flooded with Syrian refugees. This piece addresses what we have been asked to forget: Turkey still is "scarred by wanton killing and destruction in World War I." Fergan Keane writes,
"Gone are the streets in which the voices of Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Levantines and Jews mingled ... prayed and made music and told stories in the narrow lanes of the bazaar and by the glittering water of the Aegean."
That brings us to New York Times review last week of wildly popular Turkish movie, "Conquest 1453," dramatizing the Ottoman capture of Constantinople, now Istanbul. Fascination with the era has launched TV shows and other projects. The author juxtaposes opinion:
  • Says Melis Behlil, a film studies professor at Kadir Has University: “The Ottoman revival is good for the national ego" ... but films like "Conquest 1453 are engaging in cultural revisionism and glorifying the past without looking at history in a critical way."
  • Says Burak Temir, a German-Turkish actor who learned to sword fight and use a bow and arrow for an Ottoman-era show: “It makes me proud to be Turkish.”
Turkey is diligently working to establish its political dominance as Egypt, Iraq and Syria struggle. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan just met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, underscoring tensions as Turkey pushes 2023 membership in the European Union, reports Der Speigel, the German newspaper. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz emphasizes his plans to visit the Gaza strip.

Saturday, September 22, 2012 For Adults and Their Parents, a Difficult Crossroads

Saw this thought-provoking movie, "Fred Won't Move Out," at the Brooklyn Academy of Music BAM Rose Cinemas last night in New York. Here's the New York Times review. Excellent character study in the context of a family dealing with Alzheimer's. Director Richard Ledes sneaks in references to Greek mythology in a discussion of death and nature, accompanied by some beautiful scenes of nature. There were also some well-shot and edited dream sequences. See it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Turkey: Genocide Was In Algeria

French lawmakers have drafted a law that would make it illegal to deny that it was genocide when Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks in 1915.

Turkey cut diplomatic ties with France, Turks are protesting and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded with, "Approximately 15% of the population of Algeria have been subjected to a massacre by the French starting in 1945. This is genocide." Erdogan called the bill "politics based on racism, discrimination and xenophobia," according to the two-paragraph story in the Chicago Tribune.

Well, Merry Christmas. All I know is that racism, discrimination and xenophobia brought way too many of our forebears to America.

The BBC states that Ankara says close to 300,000 Armenians died in 1915-1916, while Armenians put the number at up to 1.5 million. The New York Times' reporter in Istanbul writes, "Turkey acknowledges atrocities without any specific death toll, but says that they did not constitute systematic genocide."

The Times piece notes that Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel-winning fiction author from Turkey, recently was fined about $3,700, for telling a Swiss newspaper that "we have killed 30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Δrachma βlues

Sarcasm from London aside, read this NYTimes opinion piece for ignored historical perspective on Greece. It posits that the Lausanne Treaty is a big factor in the Greek mindset today. (Plus 1940s civil war & 1960s-70s military rule.) The treaty was Europe's solution circa 1922 that condoned the movement of an estimated 400,000 Muslims from Greece and more than 1.2 million surviving Greek Christians from Turkey - including members of my family. Today, the author says, because Greeks were lorded over by Ottomans for 400 years, they won't be controlled by central bankers nor any authority including government. The Times recommends a journalist's book we have: "Twice A Stranger: How Mass Expulsions Forged Modern Greece & Turkey," by Bruce Clark.
You can't blame the population's tax evasion on prior oppression, but some Greeks are beyond frustrated or defiant. Watch the Prism GR2010 episode "Roads, Rage & Relics" (under the lawlessness theme) to see regular Greeks blowing off tolls and exhibiting societal breakdown in action.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kurds & Turks

A well-known singer and Turkish Kurd, Ibrahim Tatlises, was shot in the head last week as he left a Turkish television station. The BBC says Tatlises recorded more than 30 albums, acted in numerous films, hosted a TV show and had business interests in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.
Divided among bordering nations, Kurds are about 20% of the Turkish population, and some are returning to Iraq to profit as Iraq rebuilds. But it is Turkey that really is flexing its economic muscle in "a region long suspicious of it," according to a January article in the New York Times. (see "Resurgent Turkey Flexes Its Muscles Around Iraq.") The piece says in Iraq's Kurdish north, 700 Turkish companies are expanding, and a Turkish Islamist group is opening scores of schools and teaching English.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I Read Too Much Today

As things "wind down" in Iraq, reflections on Baghdad journalists who lost their lives.

How the multi-billionaire Koch brothers are financing think-tanks, Tea Party rallys and Libertarian causes with inocuous-sounding organizations. The August 23 New Yorker (summarized in August 29 New York Times OpEd)

The bed bug beat: desperate people are setting houses ablaze. The Wall Street Journal

India's second quarter economic growth was near 8.8%, yet a diarrhea outbreak is killing people and 900 are sick. (Wall Street Journal story and video)

Obituary of Colin Tennant, a Caribbean bon-vivant who lived off the industrial success of his Scottish forebears. In New York Social Diary

Times wedding announcement for Dr. Mehmet Oz's daughter, who married a Chicago man in Serbian Orthodox and Swedenborgian ceremonies. Dr. Oz once said he has an affinity for Sufi Islam, with his Turkish roots, but apparently three was a crowd.

The fine print on Yoga Bunny Detox drink: "Best when chilled, as indeed we all are." (From Pret A Manger, coming to Chicago soon.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

RIP Abbey Lincoln

The great jazz singer Abbey Lincoln died Saturday on New York's Upper West Side. She was 80.  It was in Chicago, where she was born, that I first heard someone gush about her. Later, visiting Mahattan one hot summer to see a Byzantine exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I stumbled upon a listing in the New York Times arts section: Live tonight! Abbey Lincoln at the Iridium jazz club (then a dank basement venue across from Lincoln Center.) I was with my mom, and we sat just a few tables from the tiny stage, where we could watch Lincoln feel and phrase the music. Ron Carter was on bass. It was so amazing, so memorable. Ever since, her songs stops me in my tracks for the words she chose - pensive, hopeful and bold. No wonder. She told National Public Radio in 1986 that "a song is a prayer ... that I speak over and over ... It's amplified, and it goes into peoples' ears, and it'll manifest in my life ... so I am particular about the messages that come from me."
Her prolific career included movie roles, and these favorite albums: Abbey Sings Billie (as in Holiday, a queen, Lincoln says in this interview) and Wholly Earth. The latter offers a bitingly sweet duet, "It's Supposed to Be Love." (Also on YouTube is a video compliation including "First Song."
It's sobering to read in the NYTimes' obituary that she was derided in the 1960s for expressing Blacks' civil rights. Rest in Peace, Abbey Lincoln.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What is Genocide?

This Wall Street Journal news alert just in: "A U.S. congressional panel has approved a resolution declaring that the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I was genocide. In Turkey, the government said it was recalling its ambassador from Washington in response. The House Foreign Affairs Committee endorsed the resolution with a 23-22 vote Thursday, even though the Obama Administration had urged Congress not to offend Turkey by approving it. The resolution now goes to the full House, where prospects for passage are uncertain."
You can read:
The history of this issue, which includes the expulsion of Greeks from Turkey leading up to the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, as told by the U.S.-based Armenian National Institute.
Today's Zaman, an English-language Turkish paper seemingly sympathetic to minorities in Turkey, on how this "Shook Turkish-American Relations." (Wish I could read and translate more from the Turkish newspapers' websites ....)
The New York Times on the Congressional effort.
The Christian Science Monitor on how declaring "genocide" hurts American interests.
The initial Wall Street Journal article.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Astoria Figs

Astoria's Italians and Greeks manage to grow fig trees against the snowy odds, drawing the attention of the New York Times this week: "Winter Coats No Longer Fashion for Fig Trees."

New York's winters are snowier but warmer than those in Chicago, thanks largely to the waters that surround us. Growing up in suburban Chicago, a family friend tried annually to keep a fig tree alive, between the garage and Tudor house. But his A-framed plastic tents, complete with heat lamp, never were enough for a Chicago winter. Getting off the Kennedy Expressway on a winter night, we'd drive past and root for his progress. But often, by March, the lamp was off.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Greek Celebrity

I am so sick of Greeks with money and power worshipping celebrity at the expense of everyday success stories. So many so-called children of Hellenism do amazing things in the print media, arts, politics, science, etc. Take the June Gabby Awards in Chicago, a showcase for every known Greek-American celebrity, politico and patron imaginable. Stephanopoulos, Huffington, Kanakaredes, Vardalos, Varvatos, Catsimatidis, followed by a party with singer Glykeria. Ostensibly a marketing tool for Greek America magazine, a footnote says proceeds benefit "a new endowment fund of the Greek America Foundation [to award] scholarships to university students for study abroad opportunities in Greece." At least one Gabby sponsor, the newish site Greek, tries to profile the real celebrities, the mundane Hellenes of note. Not clear who backs it, but I enjoyed profiles of Anemona Hartocollis, a longtime New York Times reporter and Tatiana Delligianakis, a new New York Post reporter. I am curious to what extent the Greek government is involved in all this ... and how is a sponsor with precious little advertising revenue.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Covering Gaza

The foreign press corps in Israel missed the initial story on a familiar subject: itself. As the New York Times reports today, the Israeli government is restricting Gaza access for hundreds of journalists , - something obvıous Saturday as I compared Arabic-language TV and CNN while in Jerusalem. The net result is that images and stories consumed by most Westerners are not conveying how horrible and bloody war can be, while Arabs are getting full-on gore - and are getting more incensed. The rationale for Israel's PR approach is going to be analyzed for some time to come.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Greek Tragedy

Four days of Athenian riots defy logic, and one has to ask how could the fabric of the nation sink so low that the death of one 15-year-old at the hands of one cop result not only in $50 million Euros in damage to more than 400 businesses, but lead to international reverberations and claims that Greece is "on the brink of financial ruin," according to an editorial in the conservative newspaper Kathimerini. The piece said Greece is a nation in shambles with "a police force in disarray, mediocre universities that serve as hotbeds of rage instead of knowledge and a shattered health care system. It is also on the brink of financial ruin." An article in the Daily Telegraph notes that a student uprising in 1973 helped bring an end to the country's military dictatorship a year later. The New York Times coverage of the riots has been pretty thorough. One video shocked me: an Athens woman who said she was ashamed to be Greek. Confirmation came when I ran into a Greek friend, Niko, who lives across the street, who said, "You are lucky to be American and Greek." Those are unprecedented proclamations I can't ever remember hearing; proud natives have a penchant for professing the superiority of "Ellada" on many counts, from the inherited intellect of the ancients to the beautiful terrain and ease of life. But all that comes with a price; EU membership clearly hasn't been a panacea for a nation of only 10 million. Everyone needs to cool off -- and someone needs to come up with some jobs for Europe. Two things are abundantly clear to me: that the anarchists, students, rioters -- choose your moniker -- were very ready to pounce. And two: I was lucky to see Athens and Thessaloniki in October -- apparently festering and surely expensive, but peaceful.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

India's Ag Crisis

The front-page feature in Sunday's New York Times shows the rigors of rice harvesting and speaks to the desperate conditions -- shrinking water tables, among them -- in which India's farmers struggle. (see "Growth Outstrips Agriculture.") I saw similar scenes while traveling in Tamil Nadu, in South India, where our driver swerved around poor farmers who, lacking machinery, used road traffic to separate rice from the rest of the plant. On a Columbia Business School visit to conglomerate ITC in Hyderabad, we met with the executive in charge of getting more computers into farm villages to boost crop prices and farmer wages. They call it e-Choupal. It's a complex problem because local market makers gouge local farmers, who we met in a village near Hathras, in the north. If you click on the "farming in India" link below, you'll see my other posts and links on the subject.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Poor in Gurgaon

Monday's New York Times features a piece on Gurgaon, and a self-contained living complex there. A string of interviews illustrates ironies. Those in the complex have private schools, power, water. The poor in surrounding shanties serving the complex suffer through blackouts, and lack proper medical care and education. The article states 25% of Indians live below the official poverty line of $1 per day, though no source is named. I thought the number was nearer one third. For me, this story lacked a punchline. Not that I argue with making readers acknowledge the growing contrast between haves and have-nots.