EU Refugee Crisis Update
Following the imposition of temporary border controls by Germany, Austria, and Slovakia across Sunday and Monday, and the stern measures enacted by Hungary as it attempts to disentangle itself from the refugee crisis – erecting a 175-kilometre-long fence along the border with Serbia, topped with 4-metre-high wire; and by Monday night bussing scores of refugees to the Austrian border, while criminalising any attempt to breach its own border defences – this week has seen attention turn to Croatia.
The predominant route taken by refugees arriving into Europe – the greatest number of whom are travelling from war-torn Syria – has involved a journey from Turkey to Greece by boat, and then on through Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, and Germany. But with Hungary’s measures against refugees finding some success, this week a new route has been forged which goes from Serbia, Kosovo – also the homes of large numbers of refugees – Montenegro, and Bosnia through Croatia, then on from there through Slovenia and Austria into Germany.
While Croatia initially welcomed those intending to travel through, as Hungary began pressing criminal charges against refugees, their numbers soared so that by Thursday evening almost 20,000 had reportedly arrived in the country, the majority in the municipality of Tovarnik. Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic declared Croatia ‘absolutely full’, and Croatia subsequently closed its border with Serbia, with trains between Serbia and Slovenia cancelled. Croatia began to focus its efforts on swiftly moving refugees elsewhere.
Croatia – a member of the EU, but unlike Hungary and Slovenia, not yet part of the borderless Schengen Area – has therefore engaged with Hungary and Slovenia in a circular bout of mud-slinging, the three countries accusing one another of violating EU law by refusing to register refugees. As Croatia transports asylum seekers to Hungary and Slovenia, Hungary hurries to erect new fences, and both dash to rush them on to Austria. Towards the end of the week, Austria permitted entry to around 10,000 refugees; but tensions show no signs of abating.
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Copenhagen to Plant 23,700 Trees in 2016
On a softer political note, Denmark – which following the June general election now has a centre-right coalition government, despite its leading party, Venstre, losing seats while the centre-left Social Democrats increased their share of the vote; and which has subsequently taken a hard line on immigration, the country serving as little more than a conduit for refugees to Sweden – announced this week plans to plant 23,700 new trees in Copenhagen by the end of 2016.
3.7 million kroner ($560,000) has been set aside by Copenhagen City Hall to complete the task; with the long-term aim being 100,000 new trees over the next ten years. The hope is that by 2025, Copenhagen will have established itself as Europe’s first carbon neutral city. Discussing the plans, Tommy Petersen, a spokesperson for Radikale at City Hall, said:
‘We believe that a green city is the city of the future. Every year 10,000 new people move to Copenhagen and that puts pressure on the green areas. We need better air and green areas to ensure well-being in the city. Out of a budget of over 3 billion kroner, I think it’s money well spent.’
Copenhagen affirmed its intention to become carbon neutral in 2009, as host of that year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference. The city has renewed efforts to encourage cycling, significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions, invested heavily in innovative heating and cooling infrastructure and alternative fuels, and shares in Denmark’s commitment to wind energy. Denmark’s Samso Island, with a population of 3,806, remains the world’s largest carbon neutral settlement, taking 100% of its electricity from wind power and biomass.
Of Copenhagen’s 23,700 new trees come the close of 2016, 400 will be ‘partnership trees’, allowing local residents to choose the type of tree and its location. The residents responsible for the choice then assume responsibility for the care of their particular tree. The majority of trees will be planted together near Islands Brygge, the harbourfront area in central Copenhagen and the site of the Havneparken public park. The idea is to create a forest in the middle of Copenhagen city centre.
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Yeezy Season 2 at New York Fashion Week SS16
New York Fashion Week takes place twice each year: in February for the coming autumn/winter season, and in September for the year ahead’s spring/summer. On 12 February, the Yeezy Season 1 collection – showcasing the first pieces from Kanye West’s collaboration with adidas, with an emphasis on shoes and outerwear – debuted as part of New York Fashion Week AW15. Just days later came the official release of the first sneaker from the collection, the Yeezy 750 Boost: a high-top in grey suede, with laces, a front strap, and a side zip, and white ‘boost’ soles.
Then on 27 June, the Yeezy 350 Boost, a low-top sneaker, dropped in black-and-white patterned adidas Primeknit, with hatched black-and-white laces and a red accent on the heel’s pull tab. The Yeezy 750 Boost and Yeezy 350 Boost, plus the Yeezy 950 Duck Boot in peyote (olive), pirate black (black), moon rock (light grey), and chocolate (brown), had all featured as part of Yeezy Season 1. Since then, Kanye has teased a black Yeezy 750 Boost; versions of the Yeezy 350 Boost in white, beige, and silver; a Yeezy 950 Duck Boot which eschews a monochrome colour palette in favour of a contrasting brown shoe and yellow gum sole; plus streamlined over-the-knee women’s boots in beige, with heels and open toes.
Kanye outed the black Yeezy 750 Boost and the silver Yeezy 350 Boost recently while attending New York Fashion Week SS16, which took place from 10-17 September. Meanwhile Kim Kardashian adorned the beige over-the-knee boots to witness Givenchy’s spring/summer 2016 offering, and at an after-party hosted by Rihanna.
It was only a week ago on Friday, on 11 September, that Kanye confirmed Yeezy Season 2 for New York Fashion Week SS16. The show took place on Wednesday, 16 September, in front of an audience including the Kardashians, Drake, Common, Riccardo Tisci, Helena Christensen, Anna Wintour, Lorde, Courtney Love, Miguel, Tyga, and Michael Stipe. Vanessa Beecroft, the Italian artist who last worked with Kanye for Yeezy Season 1, performed as part of the show. And just as Yeezy Season 1 saw the debut of ‘Wolves’, featuring Sia and Vic Mensa, Yeezy Season 2 offered the first listen of ‘Fade’, featuring Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign.
As for the clothes, Yeezy Season 2 continued the focus on outerwear and oversized fits, which have drawn criticism from those unfamiliar with streetwear and the concept of drape. Monochrome-clad models were at one point organised according to colour, in a militant production which was streamed live to assorted cinemas worldwide. There were no new sneaker designs on display, but there were new colourways of the 750 Boost and 950 Duck Boot, plus an unbranded twelve-eyelet military boot in tan. While Yeezy Season 1 was a full collaboration with adidas, Yeezy Season 2 was only sponsored by the company, positing the existence of a label all Kanye’s own
While the world must wait for more details to emerge regarding what was shown as part of Yeezy Season 2, the Yeezy 750 Boost in black – which features a transparent gum sole – appears set for an imminent release, while October should also see the belated appearance in stores of Yeezy Season 1 apparel. Items including a sateen flight jacket, a fur-lined parka, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and a bodysuit are modelled by The Weeknd in GQ‘s September Issue, and by Tink and Vic Mensa in the debut issue of CR Men’s Book.
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Impending Albums, Surprise Mixtapes, and Impromptu Performances
On the music front this week, Grimes discussed her impending album in a cover feature with Dazed, entitled ‘Grimes: Weird Science’. The follow-up to Visions is due out in October. While it has gone through the working titles Fairy, Avalon, and Queen of the Night, Grimes doesn’t intend to unveil the new album’s name until the day before its release. On the content of the work, she told Dazed:
‘Lyrically, it’s more political and less abstract than before. Like, really trippy free association about nature and shit. There’s a song that’s from the perspective of a butterfly in the Amazon as people are cutting down trees; there’s a song that’s from the perspective of angels who are polluted, so they’re crying polluted tears. I feel like it’s more about the Earth. I think I was more in society when I was making it, so it feels more grounded.’
Julia Holter streamed her imminent release Have You in My Wilderness via NPR Music, with the album due out officially on Friday, 25 September. Have You in My Wilderness is already receiving critical acclaim. Meanwhile Holter spoke about the album to The Guardian, Tiny Mix Tapes, and previously Stereogum.
After teasing the news on Instagram, over the weekend Drake confirmed a new mixtape with Future, called What a Time to Be Alive, which is currently streaming on Beats 1 via Apple Music. And earlier in the week Fiona Apple joined Watkins Family Hour for an NPR Music ‘Tiny Desk Concert’, where she sang on the traditional songs ‘In the Pines’ and ‘Hop High’.