Archive for September, 2004
As things get mighty close to Election Day, it’s rather hard to believe that the potential for big trouble in counting the ballots cast in Florida is equal this year to what the Nation was unfortunately called upon to witness back in 2000. In fact, in his piece in last Sunday’s Washington Post, former President Jimmy Carter (famous in his ex-presidential phase for, among other things, the election observers his Carter Center provides) states that “a repetition of the problems of 2000 now seems likely.” The Dutch newspaper Het Parool picks up on this, and some other, related developments, to sound the alarm in Chaos Threatens Again at the Florida Polls. (more…)
It’s a common trait of the scientific community for researchers to commune to pool their brains while investigating perplexing phenomena that no one quite yet has been able to get a handle on understanding. AIDS. The possibility of extra-terrestrial life. And, yes, the mystery that is Michael Jackson: Josef Engels brings us word today in Die Welt of the conference that took place over this past weekend in New Haven, CT, whose subject was none other than the King of Pop. (He is a Person.) (more…)
As the American presidential campaign winds down to the last six weeks, with the first in the series of debates scheduled for next week, much attention and speculation surrounds the results of various polls seeking to track the horse-race. Then there is the other poll, that of the non-voters’ opinions, namely of those living on the European continent. Jean-Michel Demetz gives the run-down in the French news-magazine L’Express of results from the latest poll on trans-Atlantic attitudes commissioned by the German Marshall Fund of the United States together with Compagnia di San Paolo of Turin (Italy), and conducted in June, 2004. (Europeans Against American Leadership. Actually, Americans also figured under this poll’s sample of 11,000 respondents from 11 countries, which as we’ll see below makes for some interesting comparative results.) (more…)
Once again, today EuroSavant, “thinking outside the box,” breaks its previous mold. “Right, it must be that tabloid-style headline he’s talking about,” you might be thinking. “Is MAO really so desperate for readers that he is willing to sink to such depths?” To which I say: By no means – just have a little patience and read on a bit, and I think you’ll find that that headline is justified. (more…)
As the rash of hostage-taking and hostage-executions in Iraq continues, so does the making-public of these terrorists’ handiwork – generally in the form of websites, and often specifically as downloadable videos depicting the brutal act itself. But who in heaven’s name would at all be interested in viewing such things? Oh, vast audiences indeed, claims Isa van Dorsselaer in an article in Belgium’s De Standaard (Why So Many Internet Surfers Seek Out Pictures of Beheadings). (more…)
US President George Bush’s fourth address to an opening session of the United Nations was yesterday, but in the European press I’ve surveyed so far there is little in the way of analysis of his remarks, as opposed to articles which more-or-less simply report to readers what it was he said. One paper that did get a jump on that was the Danish Berlingske Tidende, and getting reaction from a country which after all does still have troops engaged in the occupation in Iraq must surely be worthwhile. Berlingske author Ole Damkjær’s very title (Bush Goes Courting at the UN) already gives you some idea that he is willing to cut the American president some slack. (more…)
Everyone knows you can find anything on eBay. Heck, for the right auction-winning price you can pick up Britney Spear’s used chewing-gum. And remember back when that guy tried to use this forum to auction off his kidney for transplant?
Presumably the functioning of eBay Deutschland is a bit more decorous (but maybe I simply don’t want to initiate some Google searches to try to find out). Still, there’s one thing that eBay Deutschland doesn’t offer (nor, as far as I now, the original American variety), and that is jobs. Paid work happens to be what a lot of Germans are looking for these days. That very real fact, and the possible connection to an eBay-like facility to address the problem, are what went through the head of German medical doctor and entrepreneur Alexander Stillfeldt about nine months ago. The result was JobBerlin.com, precisely an on-line forum for seeking and winning all kinds of work, for now just in the Berlin/Brandenburg area of Germany. So reports Nikolaus Doll today in the “Economy” section of the Berliner Morgenpost (He Who Demands the Least, Wins). (more…)
Turn the EuroSavant tables for once and consider the calculations of some beginning French blogger, say, who has to compile a sample of authoritative American media (available on-line) to regularly survey and report on, in order to explain to his French-language readers American events and attitudes. The New York Times, the Washington Post, and such like, yes – but what about choices from what you could call the parodic media? The Onion, for example? Jon Stewart’s Daily Show maybe? “You can’t be serious!” may very well be your first reaction (heh!). Except that the Onion does maintain a constant drumbeat of commentary (of its own unique sort, of course) on current affairs, and many Americans – especially younger Americans – rely on TV programs from that parodic sector even as their main source of news.
Snapping back to our customary €S European-to-English polarity, interest has welled up in me from time to time in European humorous publications which bear in some way on current European or world events. For my purposes such would surely be of interest and – if the humor could successfully be translated – also worth a laugh or two. But there’s still not much out there that I know about. There’s the famous French Le Canard Enchaîné (“The Chained Duck”), but that website definitely disappoints. It amounts to little more than giving a shot of the current issue’s cover and offering information about how to subscribe – i.e. just a sort of cyber-shingle. (But be careful lest you get what you wish for: In all my past contact with the paper Le Canard Enchaîné, I’ve found it’s humor to be largely derived from French slang – i.e. rather difficult.)
As you might imagine, the immediate motive for this particular post (other than simply to get a start at resuming my previous posting-rhythm) is that I’ve run across some more European “parodic press,” this time from Germany: Titanic – The Definitive Satire-Magazine (it calls itself). (more…)
Yes, it’s true that I have been off-line for a number of days. Please, people. Have you ever heard of Jews?
Could it be that the “O” in “MAO” stands for, say, “Oreshkovic”? And the “M” for “Micah”? Had you thought of that?
It’s been a full week now since the bloodbath at Middle School #1 in Beslan, and what effects has that incident had so far? OK, there have been some firings of officials in charge of security in North Ossetia, and indeed of the entire North Ossetian regional government save the top guy, President Alexander Dzasokhov. (Here’s a good summary of those developments – from Australia no less!) And after first refusing any public inquiry into the affair, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday relented, so that the Russian Senate will start its investigation later on this month.
Still, deeper questions remain, which even those Senators might be hesitant to broach. Like: What can Russia do to prevent such massacres happening again? What connection does it all have to the ongoing violence in Chechenya, and what implications does it have for that struggle? Josef Pazderka comes up with some interesting observations about this incident’s aftermath in his piece (What Changes After Breslan) in the Czech opinion-weekly Respekt. (more…)
It’s September 11 again, three years from the day that has gone down in history. That’s a ready-made theme for commemorative newspaper articles, should editors desire to take advantage of it. Perhaps it’s a certain nostalgia for the “We are all Americans now” message from Le Monde back then immediately after the attacks – a sentiment which quickly disappeared at the hands of Bush administration indifference like dew on a sunny summer’s morning – that has me heading for the French press to see whether there’s anything to be said about the anniversary there. Surprisingly, Le Monde itself takes a pass (at least with what it publishes in its on-line edition). But Libération takes up the theme with a couple of articles, starting with the paean to hindsight written by Pascal Riche (that paper’s Washington correspondent): The Missed Signals of 11 September. (more…)
It’s just after Labor Day, so the American presidential campaign is in full swing. And in Beslan they’re clearing away the wreckage and having multiple funerals in the new extension to the town cemetery. Time to flee for a time from mainstream news to search the odd nooks and crannies of the European press for an obscure gem.
In that vein, stories out of the category “Researchers Research the Darndest Things” are usually good for a laugh. No, this time it’s nothing like an investigation of the impact of cow flatulence on the ozone layer; rather, a team of Norwegian and American researchers have confirmed the stereotypes of Northern Europeans as binge drinkers and Southern Europeans as much better at controlling their alcohol intake. It’s all in their respective genes, you see, as Jens Ejsing writes in Denmark’s Berlingske Tidende (We Drink Because We Have Blue Eyes). (more…)
The bloodshed that finally ended the two-day stand-off at Middle School #1 in Beslan, North Ossetia was reportedly started by accident: security forces’ reaction to shots being fired at hostages trying to escape and/or some explosives set by the terrorists going off accidentally. It should go without saying that that bloody conclusion to the crisis, which has claimed 335 lives and counting, was not supposed to happen. After all, the Russian authorities had made it plain that the safety of the hundreds of hostages being held captive on the school grounds had “absolute priority.”
Don’t believe it. Even if things came to the particular conclusion they did unintentionally – and even in view of the 25 people the authorities had persuaded the attackers to release unharmed the day before – a violent end to the drama was ultimately inevitable. Journalist Manfred Quiring makes this point well in his recent analysis for Die Welt (“Let It Cost What It Will). (more…)
As the quintessential high-profile event that it was, the Republican National Convention was played out under an unforgiving microscope. Any and all of the supposed facts cited and claims made by the speakers who appeared were legitimate material for dissection by outside analysts – even those made by the president. One could even say especially those facts cited and claims made by the president, except that it seems that closer attention was deservedly devoted to Georgia Senator Zell Miller’s ultra-rabid anti-Democrat harangue (free registration required). “Deservedly,” because one naturally rushes first to apply falsehood-revealing fumigation to the house that is on the brink of toppling over from termites.
Even rising-star California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did not get a pass here, though his offences against the truth were rather more trivial. “Offences against the truth”? Well, you may have picked up the references he made in his address to his youth in Austria, inserted to contrast the bad Old World he left for the good Republican New World he entered when he emigrated in 1968. “I saw [Soviet] tanks in the streets”; and “[a]fter the Russians had left, I saw how Austria had become a socialist state.”
This “bad Old World” contrast has now attracted attention and refutation from various quarters. The question as to whether he really could have seen Soviet tanks as a boy in the Austrian province of Styria is the relatively trivial of the two, so I’ll just point to a reference elsewhere (in English) that that was unlikely to be the case. More interesting is the question whether post-war Austria was truly socialist, and that point is addressed in an article by Florian Klenk in no less than the respected German opinion newspaper Die Zeit (Arnie and the Socialists). (more…)