A siege by armed militants in rural Oregon begins to unravel. Greece threatened with expulsion from Europe’s Schengen area. A five-fold rise in Slovenia’s murder rate. The spread of the Zika virus to the Caribbean.
That’s just a sampling of the news that people in different parts of the world were reading yesterday. Some were even fortunate enough to read it in a newspaper called Penguin. Or, while enjoying the atmosphere at the most famous coffee house in Vienna.
Welcome to this week’s Wednesday’s Headlines, the fourth edition of a new weekly project which I hope will evolve into both a representative survey of what’s transpiring on the globe on any given Wednesday and also an insightful interpretation of the human relationships that still exist with newspapers in different parts of the world.
This week, 17 contributors answered the call with 24 images from 17 cities in 13 countries and territories. Many thanks! When you have a few minutes, check out the contributors’ websites and blogs and follow them on social media.
Everyone is welcome and encouraged to take part; please check out the few simple rules here. Please spread the word and enjoy.
The armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near the eastern Oregon town of Burns began to unravel on Tuesday when eight members of a self-proclaimed militia were arrested and one killed during a confrontation with law enforcement officials on a rural road.
My old friend Kip Silverman [ website | Facebook ] sent along today’s lead photo from the Oregonian and remarks on the two lead stories, one reporting on the ongoing siege and another on the rising home prices in Portland. He writes:
I thought the zoomed out picture came out better. I wish it had. Because the housing situation here is escalating to untenable.
You would think that the struggles of the militants holed up at Malheur and the moderate to low income residents of Portland would have common ties –individuals struggling against a bureaucracy and economy that’s working against them, pushing them out and making life much, much harder.
That’s the narrative the armed occupiers of Malheur wildlife refuge want you to believe anyway.
But they couldn’t be further apart when you take a closer look.
The Bundy boys and the couple dozen other armed persons, many of whom aren’t ranchers, somehow already benefit from millions of dollars in loans and grants from the federal government to run their businesses. Ammon Bundy somehow even got loans for a vehicle fleet service company. He doesn’t actually ranch despite the cowboy hat. They argue –amongst other things like having orders from god– that the federal government is being too stingy with federal land and not allowing it to be used and exploited to their own desires. There’s actually some big money behind the Bundys as mining and timber rights companies have a lot to gain if this is successful. But the ranchers in Burns actually have a pretty decent relationship with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) even when they don’t always agree. The general consensus is that the BLM has been doing a decent if imperfect job of juggling the wildlife refuge along with the rights of the Paiute First Nations people and the local ranchers and citizens. The “Bundy Militia” are outsiders taking up a cause that is self-serving and no one, not even the Hammond family, who were being used as the original excuse to occupy the refuge, wants them there. And last night a man who never stopped talking about dying for his beliefs got the chance to do so.
Most of us here in Portland (I’m entering my 18th year here), on the other hand, have seen the city slowly dismantled by moneyed interests, demolishing older buildings and putting in high rises with ridiculously high rents, deliberately and methodically gentrifying the city and pushing outward. In the last ten years this practice has driven our already paltry black population from 8% down to 6% — this in a state where barely a hundred years ago it was actually illegal to be a black person and be in the state after 5pm.
Rents have skyrocketed unchecked. The new Marvel 29 apartment building built at the end of the St. John’s bridge had their $900/month 500 square foot studio shoot up to $1400/month when the builder, a native of St. Johns, realized what he could get for it.
Business leases are being doubled, closing out decades-old businesses, no fault eviction notices are being handed to residents that have lived in their apartments for a dozen+ years. Portland is being swooped up by moneyed interested that without an interested government and regulations to control it, will make it impossible for the average Portlander to live here within the next couple years if not right now.
And here is the dichotomy: when you have so many people of so many varying economic castes, but the vast majority of them middle to lower classes living in an area where those with resources and means (just how the fuck did Ammon Bundy get a $530,000 federal loan to fund a vehicle fleet service company? I can’t get my car refinances for lower than 11%) will steamroll right over everyone else’s interests.
And this is the dichotomy between the headlines — The Bundy Militia occupation is about privileged people wanting more. The fast rising home costs (with the evictions and rent increases) is about what happens when privileged people run unchecked.
Thoughts? Would love to read them. Leave them in the comments below.
From Athens, Greece, Pierre Kosmidis [ blog | Facebook ] checks in with a survey of the day’s national papers whose top story was the European Union’s threat to seal the country out of the Schengen Treaty zone over its handling of the refugee crisis. Using football parlance, a “red card”.
Moving north, Australian blogger Michele Legge [ Blog | Facebook ] checks in from Bar, Montenegro, with a snap of Pobjeda, or Victory, the longest-running Montenegrin daily and the last that is still state-owned.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Legge and husband Ron are on a round the world motorcycle journey which began two years ago this month. They’ve so far covered more than 72,000 kilometers; Montenegro is country number 29.
Closer to home: there were 24 murders here in Slovenia in 2015, hardly an alarming figure by many country’s standards.
But that was nearly a five-fold increase over two years. Why? According to this story in the daily Dnevnik, the ongoing economic hardships facing the country are a major contributing factor.
Continuing north, Sports writer Olaf Brockmann [ Facebook ] checks in from the Café Sacher, Vienna’s most famous coffee house, where one “melange” and one “Sacher Cake” set him back €10.50 (€12 with a tip), but, he writes, “The most important Austrian newspaper were offered.” One would expect nothing less from the Café Sacher.
Some of the topics covered were the national pension plans, the response to the refugee crisis, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s meeting with Pope Francis in Rome, and of course, sports, topped by skier Marcel Hirscher’s second place performance at the Nightrace in Schladming.
“By the way, the afternoon in the Café Sacher was worthwhile,” Brockmann writes. “Coffee and cake were excellent – and it was fun to study the newspapers in a good atmosphere.”
A report on the unnecessarily long treatment patients with terminal illnesses undergo in the country. The story notes that 51% of Belgians with terminal cancer die in a hospital, the highest rate in Western Europe. By comparison, the figure in 41.7% in the UK, 38.3% in Germany, 29.4% in the Netherlands. Only Canada, at 52.1% has a higher rate. The conclusion?
“If you have a terminal disease and you want to die peacefully at home, don’t come to Belgium.”
Pal Ujvarosi [ website | Twitter ] checks in again from Amsterdam, with a pair of offerings: Volkskrant reports on the further repression the Eritrean diaspora face from the government they fled while The Telegraaf focuses on football players who are approached by criminal gangs to rig games. The Dutch government has now made it obligatory for players to report incidents if they are approached.
And from Dublin, Ireland, our northernmost dispatch this week, Eric Bellamy [Twitter] checks in with the front page of the Irish Times’ sports section. When I think of high school basketball, I never think of Dublin. Until today.
From Amman, Mo’ath Alkhawaldeh [ website | Facebook ] checks in with this snap of the The Jordan Times where the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis continues to occupy considerable attention. According to UN figures, Jordan currently hosts more than 600,000 people who have fled the civil war in neighboring Syria.
The former reports that an Israeli settler was killed near Ramallah; the latter leads with a story on the United Nations calling for a stop to settlement growth in order for the two-state solution to progress. Both papers include images illustrating the weather conditions, snow in the West Bank and flooding in Gaza.
Probably the only thing that could knock Donald Trump’s latest outrageous utterance from the front page was a prodigious snow storm. The front page photo in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer still concerns this past weekend’s Mid-Atlantic Blizzard of 2016 (perhaps a little optimistic since it’s still January with at least 2 more months of winter weather to go). The official snow total for Philadelphia was 22 inches (about 56 cms) which fell in less than 24 hours. According to the caption, no one is sure where this particular pile of snow came from. Philadelphians are notorious for dumping things in unauthorized places. Usually it’s trash or old tires. The good news is that with above normal temperatures this week, this dump will soon disappear.
And speaking of Trump, who still leads the polls among in the Republican presidential primary field, his decision to “boycott” the next Republican debate did stir the news pot enough to give it the lead spot in the New York Times and hefty coverage in USA Today.
The former was sent by Sarah Chamberlin [ Facebook | Twitter ] and the latter by Diane Duke [ blog | Facebook ] who also passed along the day’s editions of Chicago’s papers, which focused on a local bribery scandal.
We move north across the border briefly to Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada, where Rob Bersan [ Soundcloud ] checks in with the day’s headlines from nearby Eganville, which report that an early parole appeal by a woman convicted of murdering her husband was rejected.
Back south and west to Durango, Colorado, where Tom Garcia [ Facebook ] reports that snow, more specifically, the town’s Snowdown Festival, which kicked off its 38th edition, is once again the central attraction.
At left, the local paper announcing the festival and at right, the festival’s official publication, The Onion-like Snowdown Sneer, which was also published yesterday.
Caribbean and South America
Last week Silvana Cedeño [ blog | Facebook ] checked in from Valdivia, Chile; this week she writes from a friend’s balcony on the Caribbean where she’s enjoying the sea, sun, sand and surf in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Where she’ll be next week is anyone’s guess.
Wherever that may be I hope she’ll be steering clear of the rapidly spreading Zika virus, here the lead in one of the local papers.
And finally, from Punta Arenas, Chile, one of the southernmost larger cities on the planet, comes our southernmost dispatch, courtesy of Alejandra Sanchez Pagels.
As you can see, headline themes in Chile’s extreme southern reaches aren’t that different from those in other parts of the world. But not everyone can read them in a newspaper called “Penguin”.
Many thanks again to everyone who participated. To join in next week, and subsequent weeks after that, check out the details here. Please spread the word.