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Trump And The World

Melania Trump And Me, Two Slovenians Arrive In Washington

Melania Trump in Cleveland, Ohio, in July
Melania Trump in Cleveland, Ohio, in July
Andrej Mrevlje

WASHINGTON — Melania Trump (or Melania Knavs, as she was called before she married and moved into Trump Tower) will be the only first lady since 1829 to have been born outside the United States. John Quincy Adams' wife, Louisa Adams, was the last, having been born in England when the U.S. was still a colony.

Even before she set foot in the White House last week to meet the Obamas, Melania Trump had received an invitation for an official visit to her native country, Slovenia. According to Delo, a Slovenian daily newspaper, Mrs. Trump was invited by the country's prime minister, Miro Cerar, in a letter of congratulations for "the success that is of historic significance for Slovenia" and that "makes the citizens of our country proud and happy."

Cerar also expressed his belief that a good relationship between the two countries will develop further with the support and help of the new first lady.

According to one CNN report, Mrs. Trump's fellow citizens are happy to see their native daughter heading to the White House. Why wouldn't they be? At the very least, as somebody observed, Slovenia will never again be confused with Slovakia. That is, providing that Donald Trump does not remarry again.

Photo: Marc Nozell

In spite of my political tastes, this event makes me happy, too. I am another Slovenian-born New Yorker who happened to also wind up in D.C., having moved here a couple of months ago. In spite of some doubts about whether the Trumps will actually settle down and live in the White House, I feel that there is a lot of change coming in my new city.

The Obamas will be missed, their simple elegance replaced by a noisier, more glossy kind of glamour. I can't get rid of the idea that the Old Post Office, which was transformed into the luxurious Trump International Hotel, will become a guest quarters of the White House, resolving its risky financial situation. My imagination flies, and I can already see foreign dignitaries staying in Trump's hotel at the expense of the U.S. government. And might Trump move the White House Correspondents' Dinner into the Presidential Hall of the hotel?

As far as the Slovenian-American relationship goes, I remain skeptical. It might well be that Ljubljana (the Slovenian capital) will send their best men to Washington D.C. or may even invest in a bigger and better embassy building in capital. But is it worth it? Perhaps I am wrong and perhaps Mrs. Trump does have abilities that until now we have been unable to detect. Perhaps the Slovenian prime minister's weird invitation to Mrs. Trump is not as bizarre as it seems.

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food / travel

Legalizing Moonshine, A Winning Political Stand In Poland

Moonshine, typically known as “bimber” in Poland, may soon be legalized by the incoming government. There is a mix of tradition, politics and economics that makes homemade booze a popular issue to campaign on.

Photo of an empty vodka bottle on the ground in Poland

Bottle of vodka laying on the ground in Poland

Leszek Kostrzewski

WARSAWIt's a question of freedom — and quality. Poland's incoming coalition government is busy negotiating a platform for the coming years. Though there is much that still divides the Left, the liberal-centrist Civic Koalition, and the centrist Third Way partners, there is one area where Poland’s new ruling coalition is nearly unanimous: moonshine.

The slogan for the legalization of moonshine (known in Poland as "bimber") was initially presented by Michał Kołodziejczak, the leader of Agrounia, a left-wing socialist political movement in Poland that has qualified to be part of the incoming Parliament.

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”Formerly so-called moonshine was an important element of our cultural landscape, associated with mystery, breaking norms, and freedom from the state," Kołodziejczak said. "It was a reason to be proud, just like the liqueurs that Poles were famous for in the past.”

The president of Agrounia considered the right to make moonshine as a symbol of "subjectivity" that farmers could enjoy, and admitted with regret that in recent years it had been taken away from citizens. “It's also about a certain kind of freedom, to do whatever you want on your farm," Kołodziejczak adds. "This is subjectivity for the farmer. Therefore, I am in favor of providing farmers with the freedom to consume this alcohol for their own use.”

A similar viewpoint was aired by another Parliament member. “We will stop pretending that Polish farmers do not produce moonshine for their own use, such as for weddings,” the representative said, pointing out the benefits of controlling the quality. “Just like they produce slivovitz, which Poland is famous for. It's high time they did it legally.”

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