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BELGRADE, SERBIA–We first met Sayid* under the blazing hot sun in the park near Belgrade’s main railway station last Thursday. My friend Maja and I had decided to go down to the park to hand out milk, fruit, crackers and juice to refugee mothers, children and families who were in transit from southern Serbia to the Hungarian/Serbian border in the north. While talking with a fleeing family from Damascus—who had been on the road for the last month hoping to get to Germany— Sayid sauntered up and began helping translate. His English was pretty close to perfect, with a light accent, and so I asked him if he and I could speak when I finished the interview. He agreed. Read more

common

LONDON– The Common Linnets were the surprise hit of this year’s Eurovision song contest, a competition usually swept by pop tunes. With viewers from all over Europe texting and phoning to cast their vote, Dutch country artists Ilse DeLange and Waylon brought the house down and came in second with “Calm After the Storm.” Their duet, with its slide guitars and heart-tugging harmonies, has since become a top-10 hit across the continent, and the band is in negotiations with a major U.S. country-music label. “In Europe, when you say you do country music, it used to not be cool,” says Ms. DeLange, who sports very Dolly Parton-like dimples, “but it is becoming much more mainstream.” Read more