Let’s now go to the reporting of the run-up to that EU IGC in Naples (and its early going) in the Danish press. If you want championship coverage of just what was contained in that omnibus compromise proposal distributed last Tuesday by the foreign ministry of the current-EU president, Italy, the piece to turn to is Politiken’s article Denmark Concerned over Italian Proposal for Constitution. (more…)
Archive for November, 2003
We’re back “in the groove” now, as you’d expect we would be, since there are big things going on. Yesterday and today in Naples there has taken place a meeting of EU foreign minsters constituting the latest step in the process of formal negotiations over the proposed European Constitution collectively termed the “Intergovernmental Conference” (IGC). The French press covers the run-up to this meeting well. (Coverage of what is actually accomplished – if anything – will probably be available by Monday.) (more…)
Your EuroSavant today is still striving to regain his old equilibrium, to leave Kajagoogoo behind (Don’t understand? Please, don’t ask!) and resume his usual serious, even solemn, consideration of phenomena in the various European national presses. (Thanks to all those who e-mailed their suggestions about a €S “blogathon,” by the way – I’m still weighing that idea.)
I’m still not quite all the way back there yet. Exhibit A: What I’ve done today is add over to my list of articles on the left-hand side a document I first wrote last February, on “Mastering Microsoft 3D Pinball for Windows – Space Cadet.” You see, I have a lot to say on that topic (or at least think that I do, gained through long experience – although I can’t say it was “hard” or “bitter”). I know that it is not necessarily true that my usual EuroSavant audience will be interested in the topic, but that’s OK: That is aimed more at the traffic Google (and whichever other search engines) will be able to send me of people looking for something on the Net about Space Cadet Pinball. I myself have looked for such material before; there’s precious little of it out there, so I thought that I would make this contribution. By the way, Google (and others) has already shown itself to be very handy in sending traffic my way that is looking for comment/coverage about my usual topics (you know: Stability Pact, Poles in Iraq, etc.)
Actually, I wrote the piece last February, for a private audience, but have just decided: “What the heck, Philip! You’ve now had these months of exclusive access to this tome of pinball revelation – whether you’ve diligently made use of it to start posting astounding Space Cadet session point records on your machine or not, this information simply can’t be withheld from humanity for too much longer. So here it is!” – with some revisions to reflect further Space Cadet experience since.
A final note: As I say, I’m posting the piece as a permanent article over to the left, meaning that it won’t shift downwards and disappear after a few days like the typical weblog entry must do. (Although all of my weblog entries are perfectly accessible, via the search function or the archives.) On the other hand, that would also mean that the article would not have some useful elements of a weblog entry that I think it should have: primarily, a comments function, although TrackBack and PingBack could be useful, too. So I’m putting the two together: This weblog entry will provide the comment/TrackBack/PingBack functionality. The article will have a permanent link to this entry and:
This weblog entry will have this permanent link to the Mastering Microsoft 3D Pinball for Windows – Space Cadet article.
Fresh off posting a weblog entry which dealt in part (minor part) with the “destruction of value” all of this web-publishing is wreaking on traditional publishing, and the difficulty in actually extracting any money from it, I run across this idea from Darren Rowse’s Living Room >> A space for Life weblog: the blogathon! (If interested, you’ll have to click there and then scroll down for the relevant entries; he doesn’t make permalinks to individual entries available.) Yes, next month Darren is going to spend 24 hours straight just sitting in front of his PC blogging, the point being to be sponsored to do so, all for the financial benefit of the charity International Needs, and specifically for a project they have ongoing in the Philippines to provide poor families with income-providing pedicabs. If you want (and want to sponsor), you’ll be able to get him to discuss anything about himself you might be interested in – or anything about Australia, which is where he lives.
Intriguing . . . I tend to spend much-too-much time in front of the computer myself, especially on the weekends. (Cue link to IAD: Internet Addiction Disorder. But how could MAO otherwise be the well-informed, well-connected press Euro-guru that you all know and love?) It would likely take less prolonging than you might believe (or hope!) to push this to a full 24 hours. Whaddaya think? Is this an idea for the (self-professed, buy-domain-name, buy-your-version-of-Truth) EuroSavant?
But, if I do do this, don’t get your hopes up about getting me to write about me. As that song went – I’m too: shy-de-shy, hush-hush – I-doo-I. (Yes, there was such a song, back in the ’80s; it’s playing in my head right now as I write. I guess I need to do the Google exercise of tracking it down, so I can provide all you doubters out there – who think that my mind has been sucked away and into my computer monitor by now – with the name of the group and year.) The various European presses never fail to provide more than enough grist for the EuroSavant mill, thank you very much: you should see the topics “that got away,” because I had to choose one thing among the many to write about on a given day.
[Hey girl – move a little closer! Important update: I found it! – and not via Google either, but rather via Rhapsody, an on-line music service, owned by RealNetworks, that I can really recommend. The song was “Too Shy,” the group (and it gives me no pleasure to have to write this): Kajagoogoo And Limahl. The year: 1982. So there.]
Going back to the French press today . . . which is dominated by coverage of France and Germany getting off without penalty for their defiance of the Growth & Stability Pact, by a vote today of the Council of EU Finance Ministers (“Ecofin”). (Well, not L’Humanité. Coverage over there is of leftist-type other stuff – anyone for Iraq: Every Day The List of Fallen American Soldiers Gets Longer? Today, if you want L’Humanité, you’re going to have to rev up your own French.)
I’ve reported and commented enough about the French and Germans violating the Stability Pact (latest here), and the Netherlands – among others – not liking it. What more is there to say?
Wait now . . . those of you with that French-leftist predilection . . don’t wander away all sniffling and sad now, I didn’t mean to be so abrupt. Heck, didn’t I show you my love with my recent coverage of the European Social Forum?
Tell you what: Let’s go to another French publication which is almost as leftist as L’Humanité, namely Le Monde Diplomatique (a monthly commentary newspaper), especially now that I’ve spotted this neat piece about weblogs (!) (check out the title, worthy of the Weekly World News: Internet Seized by Weblog Mania; the piece is from last August’s issue). By the way, I found that article via this almost-as-interesting leftist treatment (yes!) of Google (The World According to Google), from the October issue, which is also worth a look. (more…)
I try not to treat the same subject two days in a row, as a general principle. But I violate that today – it’s Michael Jackson time again!
What convinced me to bend the “rules” this way was what I found in cruising through today’s Danish press: a great piece in Berlingske Tidende entitled Rock’s Cabinet of Riddles. Writer Poul Høi has taken an inspired approach to the Michael Jackson controversy: yes, his case is certainly strange, but it isn’t the only oddity that has cropped up through the years from the world of rock music.
Getting by with a little help from his friends at Rolling Stone’s archives, Høi comes up with a list of seven other such “riddles.” (more…)
I hope this isn’t just me: I’ve been unable to access any Blogspot-based weblog (i.e. whose URL ends in “blogspot.com”) for at least this entire weekend (22/23 November), and maybe even before. But I haven’t seen anything on the Net about any such problem. Anybody know what is going on?
Then again, I hope that it <I>is</I> just me: that would be a scandalous denial of service to the many thousands (at least) of bloggers out there who count on Blogspot to present their work on the Net 24/7 – including (for what it’s worth) Howard Dean’s campaign weblog and other related ones. (Including also “ScottyMac’s” weblog, down over there to the left on my blogroll; go ahead, give the link a try yourself.) The company that runs Blogspot (Blogger, or alternatively Pyra) you’ll recall was the blogging hoster bought by Google towards the beginning of this year.
[Update: Monday morning, Central European Time, 24 November, and everything is accessible on the Net and back to normal again. Still, it was anything <I>but</I> that over the weekend – if I’m correct, and not just some lone, raving lunatic about this – and that reflects poorly on Pyra/Blogger.”>
Time to go back to the €S bread-and-butter: the media survey. Of the recent spate of bombings in Istanbul, perhaps? Much too serious (e.g. Turkey’s September 11 – from the NRC Handelsblad); maybe later.
Instead, now that popstar Michael Jackson has run afoul of California’s “Three-Tykes-You’re-Out” law (not my line, alas; it’s Jay’s), it should be interesting to see what the press has to say about that in one country where his fans are probably even thicker-on-the-ground than they are in the US, namely Germany. There is indeed plenty of coverage to choose from the German mainstream (on-line) press; we’re not going to be able to get to it all.
In its continual quest for innovation, today EuroSavant reverses the matrix, so to speak. (No, not “Matrix” – there will be no more discussion here of that pseudo-philosophical, black-leather-and-Ray-bans film series). Usually I take a topic and go see what newspapers in a given national press have to say about it. Granted, occasionally it’s just “newspaper.” Today, though, I present you reporting from today’s Volkskrant on a couple of topics – a smoker’s responsibility, a singing trash can – mainly because, as far as I can tell, that paper is alone in staying on top of these vital issues.
To start with: Did you know that, when someone who has smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for most of his life dies prematurely from cancer, that is basically his own damn fault? You can read all about it in Gauloises Home-Free from Lung Cancer. (more…)
Today we return after a long absence to the Czech press and, once again, the timing is propitious. For yesterday was the last day of a three-day weekend in the Czech Republic, since each year 17 November is celebrated as the day, in 1989, of the brutally-suppressed student demonstration against the Czechoslovak Communist regime that set off the “Velvet Revolution.” This would topple that regime in short order, and replace it with a new government, most of whose key functionaries (including foreign minister – Jiri Dienstbier, formerly your friendly neighborhood window-washer – but of course topped of by President Václav Havel) were plucked either from jail or demeaning manual occupations.
(Actually, 17 November was an important day of commemoration even before 1989. That was the day in 1939 when the Nazi occupiers moved against university student agitators by executing nine of them, sending a further 1,200 to concentration camps, and closing down all Czech universities. The students of 1989 therefore had for 17 November a ready-made, “50th anniversary” pretext to gain from the Communist authorities license to hold demonstrations – except that it soon turned out that they were against the then-government, and the riot police moved in.)
The thing is, this year 17 November has for many a sad and ironic tinge to it, and that is because that same Communist Party is now the second most-popular political party in national opinion polls, and is openly planning its path into government again by means of elections that have to occur by 2006. But is it really “that same Communist Party”? That’s the Kc 64,000 question. For now, let it suffice to say that the KSCM (Czech initials for the “Communist Party of the Czech Lands and Moravia”) has never renounced the policies or the behavior of its totalitarian predecessor, the KSC (“Communist Party of Czechoslovakia”), beyond some grudging admissions that “it’s true certain mistakes were made.” This sets it apart from almost all of what used to be its “fraternal socialist” ruling-party counterparts elsewhere in the East Bloc – with the exception, of course, of the Russian Communist Party. (There’s also a similarly-unreformed Communist Party of Slovakia.) On the other hand, the Communist parties in Poland and Hungary, to cite but two prominent examples, have gone down another path since 1989: they have transformed themselves into true social democratic parties and are in fact both currently the party of government in their respective countries! (Not that either is having a very easy time of it, but that’s another story . . .)
It’s no surprise, then, that although the growing political power of the KSCM should be something of note regardless of the time of year, the November 17 holiday, a holiday of liberation from Communism, naturally helps to focus public attention on the issue. (That should probably also have been true of a recent incident in which the new memorial to the victims of Communism in Prague – dedicated only last year – was vandalized, but I didn’t pick up any mention of this in the articles that follow.)
The leading Czech business newspaper Hospodarske noviny was on top of all this as early as last Friday with a series of articles on the Czech Communists. (more…)
Recently this site has picked up some new fans, showing a particular interest in things French and offering kind words of encouragement (on their “Links” page). This reminded me that it had been a while since I had turned to the French press to see what was going on there.
(Same with the Czech press, it looks like. Hey, if you feel I’m neglecting something I claim to cover, just let me know and I’ll get right on it. This does work – it’s worked in the past.)
That turned out to be good timing, because this week there was something going on in Paris that attracted wide attention from French newspapers but little outside the country, namely the Forum Social Européen (FSE), or “European Social Forum.” Then again, there’s the problem that, even after reading about it from the various on-line journals, I’m still rather at a loss about what to make of it, or even to give a twenty-words-or-less summary description. (You can take your own look if you want, at the Forum’s own English-language website.) “An anti-globalization summit of left-wing political and non-governmental organizations” is what you could call it, a successor to the “World Social Forum” of January, 2001, which convened in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and was meant to be the explicit counterpart to the “World Economic Forum” meetings in Davos, Switzerland, of the rich-and-famous which occur regularly during that time of year. (The first European Social Forum happened in November of last year, in Florence, Italy.) (more…)
A young Italian soldier on guard duty in the night, standing before the pile of rubble that used to be the headquarters of the carabinieri in Nasariya, Iraq, before the suicide truck-bombing early Wednesday that killed eighteen of his comrades, despairingly grips his head. That picture dominated the front pages of most Italian newspapers yesterday (at least according to the Dutch paper NRC Handelsblad). The Dutch have soldiers on duty in southern Iraq too, not very far at all from where the Italians were stationed and operating under the same British command. It’s understandable that they are starting to think again about what they have let themselves get into.
The lower house of the Dutch parliament (the Tweede Kamer) certainly is, as we will see. And as for newspapers, at least the NRC is also pondering the question. So far things still seem safe for the Dutch soldiers there, it reports in an article entitled Bullet-Proof Vest and Helmet Back On. (But it’s actually unlikely that those vests are bullet-proof, or even the helmets for that matter; I deal with this question, in the context of my own experiences in the American army, in this article.) (more…)
Searching the “Events in Iraq” section of the Gazeta Wyborcza’s Internet edition, I came upon this interesting commentary from Dawid Warszawski (“Freedom in the Zone”), apparently one out of a series of pieces he is writing under the collective name Prognoza pogody (“weather report”). “This is strange,” I thought. “What is this doing in the Iraq section?” After all, Polish premier Leszek Miller was recently in Baghdad – only to be stood up there by American civilian administrator Paul Bremer, who had rushed back to Washington for urgent consultations with top Bush administration officials instead. I wanted some Polish coverage of that.
But forget about Miller for a moment. Reading Warszawski’s piece all the way through does establish an Iraq connection, although its focus is clearly on the US. It is basically about how American society has changed, influenced by that War in Iraq, but really by September 11, 2001. And again, note that it is written by a national of one of America’s allies in that war, indeed of a country with long-standing affection and admiration for the US and all things American. (more…)
You thought the failure of the WTO talks in Cancún in September was foreboding! Now the rising tide of world protectionism has reached a thousands-year-old cultural practice, reports the NRC Handelsblad (Belly-Dance Under Fire in Egypt, featuring an appealing photo of one sharply-sculpted practitioner in mid-shimmy. Yes, let’s drive traffic to the NRC’s site; first-time visitors will have to register though, in Dutch. E-mail me if you can’t figure it out.) Egypt is set to ban foreign belly-dancers from its territory. (more…)
Jessica Lynch’s book, I Was a Soldier, Too, is being published today by Alfred A. Knopf, and that fact has not escaped the German press. But the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s treatment (The Iraqis Love Their Children Too) doesn’t go very far beyond reminding its German readers what the fuss over this US Army private originally was about, and noting that this is probably not the best point in time for the American authorities to have her brought back to the American public’s attention. What with televised pictures of the shot-down Chinook helicopter of last week, which killed sixteen US soldiers, followed closely by the crash of a Blackhawk which killed a further six, “‘Black Hawk Down’ is the film of the hour” for Americans now when they think about Iraq, the FAZ reports. It is not “Saving Private Ryan” – the obvious inspiration for the “Saving Jessica Lynch” TV-movie broadcast on NBC last Sunday.
But the FAZ doesn’t deal with what Private Lynch has to say herself about her experiences. And after all, after many months of silence, as of today she is starting to write (or at least have another – namely former NYT reporter Rick Bragg – write for her) and speak (on network talk shows, naturally, and for pay). Die Welt managed a sneak peek at one of these rounds of interviews (which will be rounded off by an appearance on Letterman – “Top Ten Things to Say to the Special Forces Crashing Through Your Door,” anyone?). So it covers that angle in Die beschämte Heldin, which I think is best translated, not by anything actually having to do with “shame,” but as “The Abashed Heroine”. (more…)
Continuing on the subject of the Polish military involvement in Iraq, prompted by the first Polish combat death last Thursday, in today’s Rzeczpospolita there is a longer, and more thoughtful, opinion piece (Big Disappointment) from Radek Sikorski. Sikorski works in Washington at the American Enterprise Institute, where he is director of something called the “New Atlantic Initiative.” His commentary article first appeared in the Washington Post last Friday, 7 November, and was in its original, English form entitled “Losing the New Europe.” But unless you pay for access to the WP archives (which I don’t), it’s not accessible. Luckily, if you can read Polish, you can still access it at Rzeczpospolita’s site. (more…)
Today it’s back to the Polish press again. You know that I seldom like to deal with the same national press two times in a row, but this time it is justified by a noteworthy milestone in our sporadic “Poles in Iraq” series: the first Polish soldier died in Iraq last Thursday. Actually, it was no mere soldier who was killed, but a Major Hieronim Kupczyk. As you can imagine, coverage in the main Polish papers is extensive.
That is to say, in Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita. I honestly do try to broaden my coverage of the Polish press to include other publications than those two, but consistently fail to find coverage worth reporting on issues that I’m interested in. For example, here is the report of Maj. Kupczyk’s funeral in the Kraków-based Dziennik Polski, but it essentially reports merely that the funeral was held, notable figures spoke at it (e.g. General Tyszkiewicz, commanding the Polish-run multinational division), the Iraqi police and other national contingents contributed guards of honor, everyone was sad, etc.
Rzeczpospolita did a rather more-complete job in its Friday edition, here, complete with a recent photo of Maj. Kupczyk up top, clearly in Iraq, under camouflage netting and in his Polish-style desert uniform. (more…)
Yesterday the European Union issued its final reports on the progress towards meeting required EU standards of the 10 accession nations scheduled to become members as of next May 1. Inevitably, the issue arose of rankings: which country was doing the best job in finally adhering fully to the EU’s vast body of laws and regulations known as the acquis communautaire, which country the worst. In this, Slovenia comes out on top, and Poland at the bottom – although, in an interview yesterday evening on the BBC World Service, enlargement commissioner Günter Verheugen tried to downplay the question of rankings, claiming that it was no surprise that Poland had the most remaining problems, since it is the largest of the new member-states by far.
At the same time, Verheugen has made clear that each of these countries can face sanctions if it doesn’t get its act together. They don’t have to worry about being excluded from EU membership at the last minute, of course, but they could encounter things that could add a distinctly sour note to next May’s celebrations. These could include being hauled before the European Court of Justice or facing extraordinary “protection” measures from other EU states, such as tariffs on goods and/or restrictions on cross-border movements of their citizens.
If you’re willing to by-pass Verheugen’s “largest country” excuse, Poland’s place at the tail-end of the pack is rather ironic, considering the big trouble that country is stirring up in the ongoing Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) to adopt an EU Constitution. Article foretaste: In Poland Threatens a Blockade, in yesterday’s Rzeczpospolita, deputy Polish foreign minister Jan Truszczynski explained how the “quality of the document” – i.e. getting its way on the EU Constitution – is far more important to Poland than mere questions of calendars and timetables. Although, in Waiting for Mutual Concessions in today’s edition of that paper, his boss foreign minister Cimoszewicz is quoted as declaring in Berlin that “we are ready to search for rational compromises.” But he also said that he expected such “compromises” to be attained by means of the German government changing its view on the European Council voting-weights arrangement that is at the center of controversy, and there is no sign that it is about to do that.
Let’s take a look at what one of the mainstays of the Polish press is saying about Poland’s having been singled out as class dunce. (more…)
You remember her: the porn star among the 130+ candidates this fall for the California governorship, whose platform featured such innovations as taxing breast-implants and planting webcams throughout the governor’s mansion.
Well, she’s back at work now, but putting her interesting experiences on the campaign trail to good use. Yes – I suppose it was inevitable – the Guardian reports (“Porn to Run“) that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s epic journey to the top of the California political establishment is soon going to be captured in an “adult entertainment” film. It will feature Carey (playing herself, and we wouldn’t want anyone else) and other characters with names such as “Stooge Cruztamante” – “believed to be based on current deputy governor Cruz Bustamante,” the article intones (good work, guys!) – and “Ernie Gropenegger.” (But I still prefer Doonesbury’s “Herr Gröpenfuhrer” – although pardon me for noting that there really should also be an umlaut on the “u.”)
We interrupt our blogging for this announcement: You just can’t miss this fantastic bit of blogging detective work on the “HipperCritical” blog. Some lawyer was allowed onto the New York Time’s Op-Ed pages yesterday with an editorial arguing that Iraq should be required to pay its international debt in full. Turns out (but the NYT didn’t bother to provide any clue about this) that he’s a lawyer whose clients are those companies and kingdoms to whom Iraq owes that money. Our sleuth “Hipper” took to the Google trail and found that out, plus a whole lot of other juicy information – such as that the lawyer is on record in the past as urging the forgiving of Russia’s foreign debt. (But Russia was the one paying his fees then, you see. That was then; this is now.)
It’s a textbook case of the power of weblogs-as-(media)-watchdogs. I’ve already e-mailed that page to firstname.lastname@example.org, with a suggestion that perhaps a (belated) indication of that lawyer’s paid position to its readers might be appropriate.
The ol’ reliable Dutch newspaper Trouw has come up with another interesting commentary article – at first glance, at least – entitled Bush als Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf. (Yes, you understand that headline correctly. For the English translation, simply remove one strategic “l”.) Remember him? He was the “Information Minister” in Saddam Hussein’s regime, the one who never let reality get in the way of his own convictions about how the war to defend his country against Coalition forces was going. (And who still has his own fan-site.)
Frankly, Trouw (no specific author indicated) has something there. It reminds us that al-Sahhaf’s favorite phrase was “We have the situation under control.” When we have President Bush now asserting that the increased tempo of attacks and bombings in Iraq is actually a good sign, since it shows the Iraqi resistance’s desperation, the comparison with al-Sahhaf starts to sound more reasonable. It’s actually somewhat of a surprise that someone else (some Democrat, say) didn’t come up with this parallel earlier. No one else did at least as I far as I can tell, in my frequent reviews of the various European national presses. If anyone can set me straight on that, I’d be glad to hear about it, via e-mail and/or under “Comments.” (more…)
Today we’re back to the €S bread-and-butter – interesting articles in the European press on political subjects – and in fact we resort to a long-time favorite source, Die Zeit. That newspaper’s latest assessment on the situation in Iraq is in an article entitled A Victory Without a Victor, and sub-titled “If America fails in Iraq, Europe loses as well,” by Matthias Naß.
(By the way, give a half-second of pity in passing here for Herr Naß who, because of a recent spelling reform in Germany, is really supposed to have changed the spelling of his name to “Nass.” But this here is EuroSavant sovereign territory, and the authorities in charge of this chunk of cyber-space intend to respect the family name Naß was born under, even though it also means “wet, damp” in German.) (more…)
Sorry: Today we’re headed for the lighter side. Or maybe I just want to show the broad intellectual and cultural scope of which this site is capable, to include film reviews.
The third and final entry in the “Matrix” triology, “The Matrix Revolutions,” opens world-wide on Wednesday (5 November), but reviewers from Variety and Reuters have already been able to see it, according to this article in the Danish daily Politiken (“Hard Handling of Matrix”). Their message? Don’t get your hopes up. (more…)