Weekend Reading

For your weekend reading, here’s a sweep around the world for a few articles about places you’re probably not:

– The photos above are from Ethiopia (more here), currently Africa’s success story du jour. On the other hand, here’s a story about the country’s simmering ethnic tensions.
An unflattering look at the South African safari industry from a guide trainee.
– What happens if changing weather patterns eliminate India’s monsoon.
– France in the age of les gilets jaunes.
– AMLO’s first 100 days in Mexico.
Politics in Moldova is “about running a local fiefdom under the pretext of fighting a geopolitical battle, unaccountable to either Brussels or Moscow.”
– I love this article about how we should treat other animals. There’s also this.
– A trip behind the spectacle at Davos.

Take care and enjoy the weekend. See you next week.

Addis & Asmara Reconnected

Thawing of Ethiopian/Eritrean relations will make a visit to Eritrea theoretically much easier, assuming Eritrean officials’ willingness to pony up tourist visas.

The Eritrean capital has been downright awkward to get to, with flights only from Sharjah and Dubai in the UAE, Cairo, Egypt, Istanbul, Turkey, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Khartoum, Sudan. It looks like Eritrean Airlines runs a flight up to Milan-Malpensa, too.

Yesterday’s resumption of flights from Addis by one of Africa’s biggest and best-connected airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, marks real progress in reopening the Eritrean capital, Asmara, to the world.

A little like Havana, Asmara is a city frozen in time. As Quartz explains:

“It goes back to Benito Mussolini. When the Italian fascist leader decided to invade Ethiopia in the 1930s, he chose the country’s small northern neighbor Eritrea as a base from which to launch his operation. Thousands of Italians ended up migrating there to help with the effort. By 1939, half of Asmara’s population was made up of Italians.

“Petrol stations mimicking aeroplanes and boats, commercial buildings designed as trains, cavernous cinemas with fine period plasterwork and Art Dem interiors, fine ultra-modern hotels and offices, and government buildings with highly politicised monumental designs.”

Check out these photos from Asmara.

Weekend Reading

In the mid-nineteenth century, Walter Bagehot wrote that to preserve the monarchy, “We must not let in daylight upon magic.” If you try to see much other than the royal wedding this weekend on BBC World, you’ll be convinced (resigned?) that the Brits do “the magic” maddeningly well.

So, read, I say, and here are a few worthy articles:

Living in a Cycle of Fear and Danger (in Kabul) by Ali M Latifi in Roads and Kingdoms
The Jaguar Is Made for the Age of Humans by Nadia Drake at The Atlantic
What Can Chimpanzee Calls Tell Us About the Origins of Human Language? by Michael Wilson at Smithsonianmag.org
Neoliberalism is a real economic model – here’s how the left can overturn it by Paul Mason at New Statesman
How Democracy Dies by John Gray at New Statesman
Americans are Being Held Hostage and Terrorized by the Fringes by Tim Alberta at Politico

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’m working through The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder and that I think he’s pretty brilliant. Sophie Pinkham doesn’t think so. She has written Zombie History – Timothy Snyder’s bleak vision of the past and present in The Nation.

One last note about a column last week: I think The Fall of the German Empire by Ross Douthat in Wednesday’s New York Times is thoughtful. He calls Germany’s economic dominance of Europe the “third German empire,” writing,

“…if the test of Europe’s unity feels like a test for liberal democracy, it’s a mistake to see it only in those terms. It is also a struggle of nations against empire, of the Continent’s smaller countries against German mastery and Northern European interests, in which populist parties are being elected to resist policies the center sought to impose upon the periphery without a vote. And the liberal aspect of the European system wouldn’t be under such strain if the imperial aspect hadn’t been exploited unwisely by leaders in the empire’s German core.”

And finally, if HDR photography entertains you, like these two photos from the Mercado in Addis Ababa, you’ll find 579 more in the HDR Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.

Cheers for now.

Friday Photo #28 from Addis Ababa

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Here is my favorite photo from an eye-opening day in the Mercado in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They call the Mercado the world’s greatest open air market and I am sure they are right. Click the photo to enlarge it. There are a few more photos from that day in the Ethiopia Gallery at EarthPhotos.com. Post production on this photo in Photoshop used High Dynamic Range and other techniques, and you can see a few hundred more HDR photos in the EarthPhotos HDR Gallery. And see all the Friday Photos.

Just a note: Next Friday we begin a week around Saimaa Lake in Finland – nearest town, Varkaus. Photos are sure to follow.

Friday Photo #24, Ethiopia

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This is an overflow crowd worshipping in the courtyard of St. Mary’s Church on Mt. Entoto near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Click the photo to enlarge. See also the Ethiopia Gallery and 576 other HDR Photos at EarthPhotos.com, and see all the Friday Photos.

Friday Photo(s) #12: The Streets of Addis Ababa

Three HDR photos from in and around the Mercado, which Ethiopians say is the world’s largest outdoor market, in the capital of Addis Ababa. Click them to enlarge. More from Ethiopia here and more HDR here, on EarthPhotos.com. Happy Friday!

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And see all the Friday photos.