By Thomas Hale
♦ The Wall Street Journal looks closely at Janet Yellen and the ‘tougher tone’ she may bring to the Fed.
♦ Meanwhile, Roger Cohen ponders Merkel’s election success and her role as the ‘great consolidator’.
♦ Iranian Qassem Suleimani, a supporter of the Assad regime in Syria, has been described as the most powerful operative in the Middle East today. The New Yorker profiles this elusive figure.
The demographic for budget travel is changing – the New York Times looks at business people in hostels.
♦ Christian Caryl’s book Strange Rebels suggests that the 21st century was heavily moulded by the pivotal events of 1979. David Runciman’s review in the LRB is an exhilarating analysis of the future for progressive politics.
♦ Are the lines between the natural and artificial worlds becoming blurred? Sue Thomas expounds on the fascinating notion of technobiophilia in Aeon magazine.
♦ The New York Times looks closely at China’s forays into Central Asia, specifically their recently acquired share in Kazakhstan’s oil.
♦ Paul Mason, writing for Channel 4, weaves together Western intervention in the Middle East with the mercurial plot of HomelandRead more

A promotion shot for Homeland

Episode two of the second series of US hit TV show Homeland (“Beirut is Back”) caused anger in the Lebanese government for its depiction of central Beirut. Lebanon’s tourist minister Fadi Abboud even threatened legal action against the producers.

The episode was shot in Tel Aviv and showed former CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Clare Danes) with dyed brown hair, brown contact lenses and a veil for her safety.

The Israelis, meanwhile, were unhappy that Tel Aviv had been used as a substitute for its enemy’s capital.

News flash for those who have never been to Lebanon: a third or so of Lebanon’s population is Christian. And both Muslims and Christians can have fair skin and blue eyes. And unlike other Arab states, in Lebanon Muslim women do not have to wear the veil by law.

Homeland may only be fiction, but its portrayal of Lebanon has done little to change the stereotype of Arabs in Hollywood as gun-toting, fanatical terrorists who pray five times a day. Indeed, when it comes to Arab characters in movies, Hollywood sometimes seems to have only one kind: bad. Read more