Here’s an alert to all cinema-goers in the UK, starting in May: that mineral water ad you think you are seeing prior to the theater’s main attraction might turn out to be something quite different. The on-line Frankfurter Rundschau has the details (Amnesty International Shows Torture in the Cinema): from 9 May Amnesty International UK will be paying to have a 90-second block played in British cinemas that provides a good up-close look at what waterboarding is all about. As FR reports, for a brief while the images there on screen are quite disturbing. But that is on purpose: as Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen states, “The film shows what the American intelligence services would gladly keep secret – the gruesome sight of an almost-drowned human being.” (more…)
Archive for April, 2008
Wasn’t this issue addressed – and, to some extent anyway, solved – around the turn of the century? I thought Nike, at least, had gained whichever Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for the labor practices at its manufacturing plants in Asia. Yet the old problems with those very labor practices seem to be still with us, at least according to the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel which is carrying a report entitled Unions Criticize Nike & Co. (more…)
Are city officials in Paris apologetic about the decidedly mixed reception China’s Olympic flame received there on 7 April, where it was greeted by protesters objecting to Chinese policy in Tibet and even found its route through the city somewhat truncated out of security concerns?
It seems not. As the Nouvel Observateur reports, the Paris city council yesterday made the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen, at the urging of mayor Bertrand Delanoë. What is more, as mayor Delanoë made clear in a public statement, “Paris desires as well, by this gesture, to assure its brotherly support to the people of Tibet, who are trying to defend the most elementary of their rights: their dignity, their liberty, and quite simply their lives.”
This will do nothing for the attempts by the Barack Obama presidential campaign to knock back the charges of “elitism” raised – only by the media and the Clinton and McCain campaigns, admittedly – in the recent storm over his “bitter small town” remarks at what was supposed to be a private fund-raiser in San Francisco. But anyway: yesterday the leading world business newspaper the Financial Times endorsed him for the Democratic Party nomination (Democrats must choose Obama). Of course, who in Pennsylvania reads the FT anyway, outside of some universities and financial houses in Philadelphia – or do I sound bitter? (more…)
This story came to me via the trusty RSS reader from the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel (also picked up by Die Zeit) – a handy reminder about life and culture (and death) “on the other side,” in this case in Saudi Arabia. But the German article stated straight-off that it was just passing on reporting from the Arab News, which happens to be an English-language on-line publication so, without further ado, any reader interested in this case’s down-and-dirty details is directed thereto.
Here’s what it’s all about: It seems that last year one Sabri Bogday, a Turkish barber working in the Saudi city of Jeddah, rather lost his head and started insulting publicly both God and the Prophet Mohammed in his barbershop. (more…)
One of the leading German newsmagazines, Focus, has discovered the reality that apparently much of the US media is loth to acknowledge: that a triumph for Hillary Clinton in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination is virtually out of the question. As the magazine published on-line in Democrats lose patience with Clinton, Hillary’s continuing claim that she has the better prospects to defeat Republican John McCain for the presidency is still not gaining much traction among the Democratic “party elite.” And, in a section sub-headed “Incorruptible Mathematics,” the magazine puts forward the calculations that, if Obama can continue to win elected delegates at the 53% share he has achieved so far, by the end of the primary process he would only need 80 more to achieve the required 2,025 for nomination. Clinton, by contrast, has to win 65% of the delegates in the remaining ten primaries (including Guam and Puerto Rico) just to pull even with Obama at that point. (more…)
Denmark’s highly-regarded national newspaper (one of them, actually), Berlingske Tidende, has apparently been running for some time a weblog that I only recently became aware of. Called Amerikanske Tilstande (= “American Conditions”), it is written by one Paul Høi, Berlingske’s USA correspondent currently resident in Santa Fe (NM, I presume), formerly of New York and Washington. (DC, I presume; oh, and there’s no reason to be intimidated by the pronunciation of that last name, especially if you happen to be a full-blooded, beer-drinking male type: “Høi Høi Høi!” is exactly what you surely have found yourself yelling out many times in the past, at a boisterous C&W bar near closing time, say, or while attending some football game.)
It’s an interesting blog to peruse, if you’ve got the Danish chops to do so, and I will surely assign it its own tag and discuss more entries coming from out of Amerikanske Tilstande in the future. The boilerplate text found to the right side of the entries themselves – below Høi’s picture – gives an economical picture of where he is coming from: he has, it says, “a fundamental love for America and Americans – even for their dodgy automobiles. He drives a Chevrolet Tahoe and burns up gasoline like a native” – i.e. massively, especially compared to usual Danish standards. (more…)
One of Amsterdam’s less-known but worthwhile tourist attractions is the Tropenmuseum, or Museum of the Tropics, housed in a magnificent late-19th-century building way over on the east side of the city, generally outside the radius within which most tourists venture. True, its original purpose was as a storage and display point mostly for what the Dutch colonial authorities were looting out of the lands where their authority held sway (the same could be said of the British Museum, or indeed the Louvre), but time has moved on since then and the facility is now known simply as an interesting museum for non-Western cultures – even if what is contained within still probably originated as loot from those non-Western areas where Dutch colonial authority once held sway.
The museum’s sister-institution, installed in its eastern wing, is the Tropentheater (English version unfortunately not yet available), which offers a platform for the staging of usually non-Western-related musical and drama productions. And coming up this week at the Tropentheater (starting tomorrow) we had an interesting affair called the “Zanzibara Festival”: a festival of music and films about the Swahili culture of East Africa, predominately in Kenya, Tanzania, and yes, Zanzibar. At the center of the festivities was the Kilimani Qusida Group from that Indian Ocean island, a group of Islamic musicians specializing in Sufi music (Sufism is essentially Islamic mysticism), scheduled to travel out of Zanzibar for the first time in their lives to come play in Amsterdam. I’ve seen posters for this Zanzibara festival all over town – I even saw them on a visit to Antwerp a few weeks ago. (more…)
The name’s Berlijn: Dick Berlijn. He’s Dutch, of course. He’s a general. In fact he is currently Commandant der Strijdkrachten, the highest-ranking officer in the Dutch armed forces, equivalent to the American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But now, after almost a forty-year military career – spent mostly in the Koninklijke Luchtmacht, i.e. the Dutch air force – he’s about to head off into retirement.
In other words, as anyone with any military experience would put it: he’s a short-timer! (Or “short,” for short, meaning that your military service and the obligations related thereto are about to expire. I myself have been “short,” in fact twice.) It means you (mostly) don’t have to care anymore. It means you (finally!) can open up a bit and say what you really think. (more…)
Over there in the US you’re still dealing with your Credit Crisis and all related issues – like which august financial institution will topple next, and will the Fed be able to patch together some solution that keeps the markets from panicking yet one more time. Over here in Europe, though, things are rather different, as we’re reminded by Financial Times Deutschland reporter Mark Schrörs writing from Frankfurt (High Wage Settlements Brake the ECB). (more…)
Followers of European football’s Champions League will be aware of the hard assignment awaiting the Italian club A.S. Roma next Wednesday. Having lost to English Premier League leaders Manchester United 2-0 at home last Tuesday, Roma – because of the away-goals rule – need to go to Manchester and score at least three goals with no reply (or four goals if Man. United score one, etc.) to go on to the Champions League semi-finals.
It’s going to be tough, but the club at least has gotten a helping hand from one of its more rabid fans, the Italian actress Sabrina Ferilli. As the Czech News Agency ČTK reports in the daily Lidové noviny (For Progressing the A.S. Roma Footballers Are Promised a Strip-Tease), Ferilli has promised to take her clothes off for the delectation of Roma’s players – and their other fans – if the team beats Man. United sufficiently to make it through to the next round. And while the article notes towards its very beginning that Ferilli is now 43 years of age, the embedded video profile (apparently a report from an Italian news channel) also shows very clearly that she still has quite a lot to offer any viewers. (Don’t worry, though, the video would rate no more than “PG” under the American movie rating system, if even that.) (more…)