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Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

“Smize” is a portmanteau word, the result of blending “smile” with “eyes”. The term was coined in 2009 by Tyra Banks, the American TV personality, who urged the models on her show to do it, “smize”, let the smile reach your eyes.

It’s the way to go in a pandemic, when we’re masked and unable to show our appreciation of someone’s kindness or consideration, or to simply indicate that we are friendly and non-threatening.

Some say the smile is the subtlest form of communication available to human beings. …


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It’s not particularly surprising that the French sent up a trial balloon within a few weeks of Brexit.

They’ve started to ask a crucial question:

Why use English anymore to transact the business of Europe?

With the British having left the club why should the 27 members of the European Union (EU) speak the language of Shakespeare rather than that of Voltaire?

That’s a paraphrase of what Clement Beaune, France’s EU affairs minister actually said. He was a tad more direct.

The EU should stop speaking “a type of broken English,” he said, and work on enhancing “linguistic diversity. …


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Emily Maitlis

The BBC was at it on Inauguration Day. Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day. ‘Newsnight’, the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs TV programme, flew Emily Maitlis into Washington, D.C. There, Ms Maitlis, a forensic interviewer, sat in a blue coat and matching scarf and spoke to the following people on Mr Biden’s Inauguration Day:

** Dwight Evans, a black Democratic Party Congressman who represents Pennsylvania’s second district.

** Donald Trump’s former secretary Madeleine Westerhout. She was fired in August 2019. …


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Pharaoh Ramsses II of Egypt in Abu Simbel. Photo by Hajor. CC BY-SA 3.0

Just the other day Donald Trump was likened to Ozymandias, the Greek name for the legendary Egyptian pharaoh, at least in the sense that Mr Trump’s sketchy legacy was obviously crumbling in his last weeks in office.


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Photo by Pau Casals on Unsplash

Until the end, Donald Trump has remained true to himself (as well as the most churlish portrait of him). On his way out of the Oval Office, he’s lit wildfires of various sorts in the foreign policy sphere. It’s obvious that he wants to make life even harder for incoming President Joe Biden. (‘Take that. How dare you occupy my White House?’)

Consider the Trump administration’s bold (un-)diplomatic decisions in its last couple of weeks:

On his last full day in office, Mr Trump announced the lifting of travel restrictions for travellers from Brazil and Europe. …


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Trump supporters participate in a rally in Washington before the ugly scenes of the Capitol riots. AP Photo

Can big business help clean up America’s public square? It’s a question that matters enormously in the current context, as the US gets a new president while still wrestling with the insurrectionist impulses and polarisation promoted by the outgoing one.

A fortnight after the rampage at the US Capitol in Washington, at least two dozen American companies declared that they will penalise some Republican politicians for their alleged role in the riot as well as their frenzied legislative attempts to overturn the results of a free and fair presidential election.

Well-known international brands — including Amazon, Walmart, Disney, Nike, Airbnb, Morgan Stanley, Dell and American Express — will withhold funding to certain politicians. Dozens of other companies, including Bank of America, Target, Google, Facebook, JPMorgan, Visa, Boston Scientific and Citigroup have announced a more neutral approach, by suspending all political giving — to Republicans and Democrats alike — pending a policy “review”. …


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This is the last week that we need to invest Donald Trump’s pronouncements with the solemn weight that comes of where he stands. So here goes.

Noticed something? Mr Trump increasingly speaks of his MAGA ‘movement’ but doesn’t mention the Republican Party.

That may be just fine with sections of the Party, which is in any case, deeply riven over Trumpism and its future.

Even so, Mr Trump seems to be engaged in an unsubtle act of re-branding.

On January 13, exactly one week after he incited a mob to march on the US Capitol, Mr Trump released a five-minute video in which he pretended to be a man of peace and goodwill. The chameleon act was part of his schtick and not particularly new. What was interesting was his repeated references to his MAGA movement. He used the full form of Make America Great Again once and mentioned the “movement” another three times. …


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World Trade Center, New York. Photo by Anthony Fomin on Unsplash

Could 1/6, the day of the Trump-incited US Capitol siege, be the harbinger of a 9/11-type attempt to attack America?

I ask this in light of a fascinating piece I read the other day. Ed Luce, US editor of the Financial Times, quoted former FBI counter-terrorism agent Ali Soufan’s warning that January 6 could be “the beginning” not the end of the domestic terrorist threat and that it should be seen as comparable to Al Qaida’s 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Click here (paywall) for Mr Luce’s article. …


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The most trite observation of all, as Germany’s most powerful political party picks its new chairman: the three contenders aren’t like Angela Merkel.

For starters, they’re all men.

Three, middle-aged men — Friedrich Merz, Armin Laschet and Norbert Röttgen — have been duking it out in the long campaign to replace Ms Merkel. The pandemic prevented two previous attempts to elect the new chairman by voting in person so the Christian Democratic Union ‘s (CDU) 1,001 party delegates will now do the deed virtually.

The election, according to the FT’s Guy Chazan (paywall), is “a fierce battle for the soul” of the party, which has governed Germany for 50 of the past 70 years. …


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The nuanced way the world understood Donald Trump’s racially charged call to a mob to march on the US Capitol is best summed up in one headline. It was splashed across the frontpage of The Times of India, my old employer.

Coup Klux Klan “, said TOI, in reference to the troubling motivations of the pro-Trump rioters.

Those three words said it all.

At last, there was a pithy way to sum up five years of Mr Trump’s racist remarks (on the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016); his “very fine people” comment on the white nationalists who caused trouble (and one death) at the ‘ Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville in 2017; his “stand back and stand by” injunction on live television to the far-right, neo-fascist Proud Boys group during last year’s presidential debate. …

About

Rashmee Roshan Lall

Journalism by trade & inclination. PhD. Sign up for free email updates on https://www.rashmee.com email me at rashmee@rashmee.com http://muckrack.com/rashmeerl

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