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Keeping America safe from Latin Klezmer bands

U.S. immigration authorities are apparently not big fands of musical fusion:

When Jordan Peimer booked an Argentine band that fuses Jewish Klezmer music with tango, he thought he had the perfect act to headline his "Fiesta Hanukkah" concert.

"It is hard to imagine any band more fitting than Orquesta Kef," says Mr. Peimer, the program's director at the Skirball Cultural Center here. The event was designed to attract a Jewish audience and the city's burgeoning Hispanic community.

That was before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services weighed in with some cultural commentary of its own. The band couldn't travel to the U.S., the agency ruled, because it didn't satisfy a "culturally unique" requirement for a performer visa called P-3.

"The evidence repeatedly suggests the group performs a hybrid or fusion style of music...[which] cannot be considered culturally unique to one particular country, nation, society, class, ethnicity, religion, tribe or other group of persons," read the denial. It was signed by caseworker CSC4672/WS24533.

Other victims of the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services's finnicky judgements have included a Brazilian hip-hop group, a Mexican indie rock band, and a Canadian modern dancer.

Hat tip: Hit & Run  

Passport

Maliki blames Syria for Iraq chaos

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently accused Syria of being responsible for the car bomb blasts which killed over 110 people, and injured hundreds more, in Baghdad on Tuesday. This is a repeat of the claims that he made following similar blasts in August and October, which also struck Iraqi government buildings in Baghdad.

Maliki raised eyebrows for previously pointing the finger at Syria, when the released evidence looked less than definitive. However, the fact that he is repeating his claims now shows he has no intention of backing down -- and is an important data point on where Iraq will stand on intra-Arab disputes in the future. Saudi Arabia, for example, has remained intensely skeptical of the Shia-dominated government, and has so far refused to send an ambassador to Baghdad. If the Iraqi government continues to consolidate its authority -- and continues its antagonism towards Syria -- look for that to change.