For the first time in a long time I’m taking another road-trip in connection with the SegwayEuroTour. Back with my next entry on Monday, maybe on Sunday. I’ll try to grab the URLs for a review of John F. Kerry’s big night at the convention – what, in the German press? In the Hungarian press? I always welcome suggestions. The problem simply is that, due to time-zone considerations, the candidate is scheduled to wind up his acceptance speech about two yours before my train departs for points east. Any contribution I would be able to make in that intervening time would be instant analysis of the rawest, worst sort.
Archive for July, 2004
Princeton professor emeritus Bernard Lewis is awful smart about the Middle East, having made that the specialty of his entire scholarly life. How smart? Smart enough to already have a book out like What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East when the terrorists struck on September 11, 2001, and so made it a best-seller among those trying to fathom just what it is about that part of the world that would make human beings commit such acts.
Wolfgang G. Schwanitz of the German newspaper Die Welt popped by Princeton recently for a visit, and the resulting interview transcript appears today on the Die Welt website. The point Lewis makes in the conversation that Schwanitz picks out to be his teaser is interesting enough (the interview’s title is “Europe Will Be Islamic By the End of the Century”), although he advances it at the interview’s very end, almost as a throw-away, telling Schwanitz that demographic trends clearly indicate that Europe can look forward to becoming nothing more than an extension of Arab North Africa (the Maghreb) in a few decades’ time, and not any sort of world-counterweight to America.
But Lewis makes a number of other interesting points as well in the interview. (more…)
Day one of the 2004 Democratic National Convention is now past, and if there is a common theme to coverage in the Danish press, it’s Bill Clinton. Clinton, and to a lesser extent Hillary, continue to command fascination from audiences beyond America’s borders, so the Danish dailies lead their international coverage (although it’s never the top story of the day, sorry to have to disappoint you) with pictures of Clinton and translated quotes about how, for example, “John Kerry is a good man, who knows how to steer a ship through troubled waters” (from Politiken’s Clinton Works for a Kerry Victory).
But that’s generally the same in them all; that’s boring. Let’s turn instead to the more-diverse side-articles, such as crack Berlingske Tidende political writer Paul Høi’s first-hand encounters with security in Boston-town (We’re Off to Boston, My Friend). (more…)
The great and the merely good – around 35,000 people in all – are now assembling for the Democratic National Convention in Boston, and among those who have arrived is the French politician Pierre Moscovici, whose last flight to the United States, on September 11, 2001, actually passed over a smoking New York City on its way to the nearest available airport. Now he has returned under what are obviously rather happier circumstances, with his purpose, as he puts it, “to bring the support of the Socialist Party” for John Kerry. (more…)
A devastating debate with Howard Dean live on TV hasn’t been enough; neither have been appeals from countless Americans, from the prominent to the obscure. But maybe a collective entreaty from some guys (mostly guys; actually, they’re uomini) with that notable “continental style” will do the trick and convince Ralph Nader to withdraw from the American presidential race. The French on-line newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur is reporting (Anti-Bush Action From Italian Deputies) that 116 members of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, “in a rare gesture,” sent a collective letter last Saturday (24 July) to presidential candidate Ralph Nader urging him to bow out. (more…)
Mordechai Vanunu was the Israeli “atomic spy,” the nuclear technician who in 1986 revealed secret information about Israel’s covert weapons program at the nuclear reactor at Dimona, in the Negev desert of southern Israel, in an interview with the London Sunday Times. For his troubles he was lured to Rome later that year and kidnapped there by Mossad agents, who brought him back to Israel and so to Israeli legal jurisdiction. In a secret trial, he was sentenced to eighteen years in prison for treason, which he finished serving last April.
Out of jail, it seems Vanunu still just can’t hold his tongue. (This profile in the Guardian mentions that, among other restrictions, he is obliged not to talk to the foreign press; at the same time, he is appealing to Israel’s supreme court for permission to leave the country again. Yet he recently gave an interview to the London-based Arab newspaper Al Hayat.) This strangely-stubborn behavior is probably something the rest of the world should be grateful for, at least for those who would prefer to be a little better aware of Israeli nuclear activities than the Israeli government would prefer, and the German newspaper Die Welt has picked up on his latest (Atom Expert Warns of a “Second Chernobyl” in Israel). (more…)
Remember back last winter, when a big fuss hit over the Pentagon announcing a policy prohibiting the awarding of contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq to states which hadn’t been active participants in the Coalition? (€S covered the reaction in both Germany and France.) It sure seemed a good idea then to be among the “ins” rather then the “outs” and so to look forward to the awarding of juicy reconstruction contracts to firms from out of your country.
Well, first of all doubts set in early – particularly in the Polish press – as to whether the Pentagon was really willing to steer those contracts to any other than American firms, with maybe the occasional British company thrown in. Of course, with the transfer-of-sovereignty last month, now it’s supposed to be the Iraqis themselves in charge of such decisions. But things have instead reached a stage where commercial calculations have taken another turn entirely. For instance, those in the transport business might be interested to know of a contract for trucking services that might be coming up for tender soon. The present holder, the Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Company, is under a bit of pressure – seven of its drivers were abducted in one day, last Wednesday, and are now being held hostage, under the threat of being beheaded, by Islamic militants! (more…)
In the EuroSavant coverage of the Danish/Dutch Europa XL/Zelfportret Europa series we recently did the Czechs, and then we did the Slovaks: up until 1993 their fellow countrymen. Now we proceed from the Slovaks to the Hungarians, under inverse logic: these are long-time enemies, in the fundamental sense of two different ethnic nations laying claim to much the same bits of land. (From the Hungarians we could use that same “adversary” logic to proceed on to the Romanians, with whom the Hungarians have historically had even worse relations – except that the Romanians are not yet EU members.) (more…)
Yes, that’s the tastiest point to emerge out of the interview two writers for Germany’s Die Zeit (Marc Brost and Dietmar H. Lamparter) managed to swing by actually travelling all the way to Dublin to catch Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary in his lair. (As you’ll see if you click on the link, it’s more-or-less the headline that they use themselves.) But the article also covers a number of other intriguing current issues of the European budget carriers’ world, and that of European aviation in general, spiced by O’Leary’s combative interactive style. (more…)
Here in the Netherlands we’ve been on a heightened state of terror-alert for over a week – which is the first time that any EU state has warned its citizens against possible imminent attacks since the train-bombings in Madrid of last March 11. Alex Burghoorn of De Volkskrant takes time out from day-to-day news to examine the general European phenomenon of terror-alerts in the recent article Terror Alarm is a Political Balancing-Act. (more…)
Slainte? That’s Irish, or Gaelic (henceforth we’ll use the latter) for the salutation made at a toast with alcoholic drinks – as in “Bottom’s up!” or “Here’s to you!” – and the Irish hope to be commemorating soon with a celebratory round of the finest Irish whiskey the addition of Gaelic to the EU’s corridors of power. As reported by the sharped-eyed Hana Lesenarová of the Czech daily Mladá fronta dnes (Ireland Desires Recognition of its Original Language in the EU), the Irish government decided this week – “unanimously,” whatever that means – to ask the EU to recognize Gaelic as its twenty-first official language. (Yes, it’s a little bizarre to be reading this news in Czech. I did consult the Irish Times, but didn’t find any mention – although much of that website is shut off behind pay-per-view.) (more…)
“Did the Israeli prime minister expect such a barrage [of criticism]? Did he even desire it?” Those were the questions posed by reporter Eric Favereau leading off coverage in the French left-of-center newspaper Libération yesterday of remarks by Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday, in which he called upon French Jews to move “immediately” to Israel to escape “unfettered anti-semitism” which is allegedly spreading in that country. (The lead article is [French foreign minister Michel] Barnier Harshly Criticizes Sharon’s Invitation to the Jews of France, although the verb that article-title actually uses translates to fustigate, perhaps an interesting addition to the vocabulary of us all.) But by making such remarks (in English, and in front of a delegation of American Jewish leaders visiting Israel, as it turned out), Sharon only managed to offend not only the French state, but Jewish organizations there. From the French foreign affairs ministry spokeswoman: “We have immediately made contact with Israeli authorities to ask for an explanation on the subject of these unacceptable remarks.” And from Richard Prasquier, executive board member of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (French acronym: CRIF): “We can’t accept this type of discourse. We all know that the situation of Jews in France is difficult. . . . [The Jewish community] knows that the [French] political class is doing everything to fight against this anti-semitism. But pouring oil on the fire this way is not acceptable.” (more…)
I am fine today, and how are you? I hope this weblog entry finds you in the best of health. I am Prince MAO Kawanza, chairman of the West African Expatriate Legal Defence Fund, an institution established under the late Nigerian Head of State, General Sani Abacha, for the provision of legal assistance to travellers from West African states ensnared in difficulties with foreign criminal justice systems. General Abacha chose to fund our laudable institution by means of a special tax on revenues from the Nigerian petroleum sector, which revenues are estimated to total more than USD 45 billion yearly. (more…)
Here at EuroSavant we’re proud to serve as a bridge and guide to European happenings and European opinion. But just today the thought occurred that maybe it’s time to occasionally – very occasionally – reverse that polarity and turn that “bridge” around to examine the US. The added benefit here is that, since American articles are generally in English, as is EuroSavant, readers can be directed to them without so much additional explanatory commentary. (I do not think that I’ll create a US weblog-entry category to add over there on the left, however.)
This article from the Washington Post was the specific prompt for this; its upshot (so to speak) is that, if you’re sitting in a restaurant (or any other business) just south of the nation’s capital and happen to notice fellow patrons around you wearing guns on their hips – who are not uniformed police – don’t think anything strange is going on. That’s legal, it seems, although some business are thinking of declaring themselves “weapons-free zones.” No, just take in the sight and marvel at it (but carefully and unobtrusively, please!), and just feel it as those stereotypes you’ve held (or maybe have been fighting against) of America as a “Wild West” society presided over by a cowboy president get a shot – so to speak – in the arm.
I missed this in the Financial Times Deutschland on Friday, and so now the article has retreated beyond that pay-per-view barrier. But luckily the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant caught it in time, and so passes along the FTD’s report that Washington is blocking Germany’s desired permanent seat on the UN Security Council (and presumably the veto that goes along with that). (more…)
We recently covered the “Europa XL/Zelfportret Europa” portrait of the Czech Republic. Now it’s time to take up that country’s sister republic, Slovakia, which came into its own as an independent country only with the so-called “Velvet Divorce” of 1 January 1993. Did that “divorce” really ever need to come to pass? (more…)
Results of a recently-released survey conducted last May 4 among the population of Denmark’s jails by the Institute for Prisoner Welfare (Kriminalforsorgen) and the Danish State Statistical Bureau (Danmarks Statistik) have raised some eyebrows. That study found that a full one-quarter of Denmark’s imprisoned criminals (specifically: 955 out of 3,741) are either of foreign nationality or the direct descendants of foreigners. (more…)
Troops from the Philippines are coming home a month early from Iraq – soon all fifty-one of them, from their strictly humanitarian-aid duties there – as the Filipino truck-driver Angelo de la Cruz remains hostage to Islamic militants. Many in the world are dismayed at this apparent climb-down by Philippines president Gloria Arroyo in the face of terrorist threats, and this includes the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende, whose writer Paul Høi takes Arroyo to task in an editorial entitled Arroyo Makes the Same Mistake as Doctor Faustus. (more…)
On Monday there was a meeting in Warsaw of the finance ministers of the so-called “Weimar Troika,” i.e. Germany (Hans Eichel), France (Nicholas Sarkozy), and Poland (Andrzej Raczko). The result was basically bad news for Poland; as the title of an article on the meeting in Rzeczpospolita by Jedrzej Bielecki puts it, Poland Will Pay for the Difficulties of France and Germany. (more…)
Today EuroSavant extends its definition of the “European non-English-language” press a slight bit to include a radio station, or at least that radio station’s website. I’m speaking in particular here of the Danish public radio station “P1,” which broadcasts news and public affairs.
(“P2” broadcasts mainly classical music and literature/arts-related programs, while “P3” is the public radio station devoted to pop music. At the same time, there exist a number of private radio stations broadcasting in the country – quite legally – which unlike the public stations can broadcast commercials, and which tend to concentrate on pop music.)
In particular, P1 broadcast a few weeks ago a series of commemorative programs to recount the Danish “people’s strike” against the Nazi occupation that occurred just over sixty years ago, at the end of June/beginning of July of 1944. There remain a series of webpages devoted to this subject just off of the main P1 homepage (this is the Folkestrejken homepage), and their high quotient of audio-visual content make them worth a look to anyone interested in this bit of World War II history, even if s/he doesn’t know the language. (more…)
Grizzled EuroSavant veterans might recall the entry of earlier this year describing the dismay in Poland over the tight US regime for obtaining visas to visit the States, which included a first-person account – “Ally Out in the Cold” – of one Pole’s ordeal in visiting the US embassy in Warsaw to try to obtain his own visa.
That experience, as the article’s title suggests, featured quite a bit of excruciating waiting outside the embassy in the Polish January cold. For a change-of-pace – but, it turns out, of the most minor sort – we now have Miroslav Zajíicek’s account of what he had to go through for his visa in July’s summer heat at the American embassy in Prague (The Americans Give Lucie Priority), in the latest issue of the Czech opinion weekly Respekt. (more…)
It may be getting into vacation season in the EU, but now that a new European Commission President has been agreed upon by the European Council (he’s Portugal’s José Manuel Barroso, of course) the horse-trading and dealing surrounding the question of just who will be on the new Commission (which takes office November 1) is starting in earnest. The leading Czech business newspaper, Hospodárské noviny covers the action (The Battle Begins Over the Composition of the European Commission), and notes that this time the issue is complicated by the fact that, with this transition, the Commission will go from a system where the five biggest lands get two commissioners and everyone else one (so that there have been thirty of these since the enlargement in May) to a system where every country gets one (thus there are twenty-five in total.) (more…)
This may be counter-intuitive, but did you realize that instituting limited periods during which all passengers can ride on a train system for free is a measure that can actually pay for itself, and even turn a profit, from the increased numbers of paying passengers who will be attracted to ride the trains during the free period and beyond?
At least there is the strong suggestion that this is true in Denmark. In January train travel was made free for trains running in the region of Svendborg, located on the south part of the big Danish island of Fyn – the one lying between the Jutland mainland to the west and the island of Sjaelland (where Copenhagen is located) to the east. A subsequent study undertaken together by the Danish traffic ministry and the Danish State Railways (DSB) – and reported at length by journalist Rasmus Lindboe in the Danish opinion newspaper Information (Analysis: The State Can Make a Profit on Free Trains) – shows that ridership increased by 25% as a result of this initiative, even after January was over. What’s more, one third of the 150,000 new riders attracted to the trains would have ordinarily gotten where they needed to go using their cars. The DSB gained back the money it originally lost by not charging fares within three months from the resulting increased ridership. (more…)
For whatever reason, Michael Moore’s blockbuster documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 was first exposed outside the US to French-speaking audiences, opening on 7 July in France, Belgium, and Switzerland. And, as you’d probably expect, it had a Smashing Début, as stated in the title of an article in the Nouvel Observateur. It was seen by 100,000 in France on its first day of showing alone (of which 30,000 in Paris), the best opening of all time for a documentary. Still, the (unnamed) writer does give Moore’s previous work, Bowling for Columbine, greater credit for being fully researched and documented. (more…)
The French newsmagazine Nouvel Observateur reports that Taliban spiritual chief, Mullah Omar, recently popped into view again, revealing his whereabouts – roughly speaking. These days, of course, the good mullah ranks up in the same league with Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab Al Zarqawi as a personality to whom Western governments would dearly love to extend special hospitality: his very own heavily-armed bodyguard, his specially-outfitted cell, even a starring role in a judicial trial. (Hey, there’s no reason why Saddam Hussein deserves an exclusive here.) It turns out that officers from the Afghan government managed to catch him on the telephone. (more…)
Danish coverage of John Edwards’ selection as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate has turned out to be fairly substantive. There is even early commentary on the choice in the opinion newspaper Information, from that paper’s correspondent in Boston, MA, Martin Burcharth (Kerry Chooses a Risky Strategy). (more…)
Hey – I’ll trade you a John Edwards football card! Yes he played, during his college days at NC State. Actually, I’ll give you a free tip: if you move fast, you can print out the trading card showing the young Edwards suited up in his football uniform, but with the “John Edwards: President” logo underneath, used as promotional material during his Democratic primary campaign, which is featured on the French newspaper Libération’s best-of-the-pack article covering Edwards’ naming as the Democratic VP candidate. (more…)
The chain continues! Of articles examining EU economic performance and policy and/or that of individual member-states, that is. And, as half-promised previously, this time we go to the French press, specifically flagship Le Monde, which announces that The Netherlands Makes the Modernization of the European Economy Its Priority. (more…)
Lately in EuroSavant we’ve been reviewing articles complaining over economic slowdowns in the Netherlands and in Germany – “complaining” from outsiders’ points-of-view, that is, so perhaps you can assume some element of Schadenfreude. Now comes a piece in the German opinion newspaper Die Zeit (United in Stagnation) advising us not to count too much on the European Union to pull such countries out of their economic problems, not if the draft EU Constitution is any guide. At least when it comes to economic policy, author Petra Pinzler writes, that Constitution is “as superfluous as a bicycle for a fish.” (more…)
We recently reviewed German commentary on how the Dutch economy is going to the dogs. Fair is fair: An analysis of current German economic problems from the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende (The Titanic or Germany) goes far to suggest that German comments about the failure of the Dutch “polder model” were an instance of the fabled pot calling the kettle black. (Now, to keep the chain going, I need to find some on-line article – maybe from the French press? – revealing current Danish economic problems.) (more…)