Archive for the ‘United Kingdom’ Category

Obama in Berlin: A Serious German Press Review

Friday, July 25th, 2008

It’s all a bit bizarre: Here at EuroSavant we consider the Economist’s on-site blog Certain Ideas of Europe to be something of a watered-down competitor, in that its (anonymous) writers evidently command a few European languages themselves and take advantage of that often to remark upon noteworthy articles in the European press (really only the French and the German). Yet in its own day-after Obama-Berlin coverage, what else does Certain Ideas of Europe choose to highlight out of reaction to Obama’s Berlin speech from the German Fourth Estate than a breathless piece from the Bild Zeitung (Britons: think The Sun; Americans: maybe The New York Post but – as we’ll see – with a bit greater tolerance for female nudity.) The blog entry is entitled Obama and the ‘BILD girl’. Wow – 27-year-old Bild reporter Judith Bonesky (stifle the puns!) finds herself together in the gym of the Ritz Carlton hotel with HIM! Oh, he’s much taller than she had expected! They exchange some “How are you?”s! Then he goes and starts hefting some impressively-big weights, in such a manly fashion, without breaking a sweat! Naturally, when it’s time for him to go (he’s got a speech to deliver), she grabs her chance for a smugshot with the candidate. (more…)

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FT for Obama

Monday, April 21st, 2008

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…)

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Deep Purple Funk

Friday, February 8th, 2008

Next Monday, 11 February, is promising to be quite an eventful day on the Gazprom front – that’s of course the gigantic Russan natural gas company, the largest extractor of natural gas in the world, of which the Russian government owns a majority stake. On the one hand, it’s the same-old same-old, what we’ve all seen before, for Monday is the day that Russia, speaking for Gazprom, will cut off all natural gas supplies to the Ukraine due to alleged non-payment by the latter of $1.5 billion. Curiously, Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko has been scheduled for some time to arrive in Moscow for a visit on Tuesday. At least he’ll be glad to be away from his native country and someplace instead where it’s actually warm inside the buildings, though one can imagine that the diplomatic talks he will engage in might still be rather frosty.

But that is all par for the course for a European winter; I can remember recently thinking to myself “Hmm, it’s already February – shouldn’t we have had the regularly-scheduled Russian energy cut-off crisis by now?” More interesting is that next Monday is also the evening of the going-away concert in honor of Dimitri Medvedev – Gazprom chairman now, but Vladimir Putin’s “recommended” candidate for president of the Russian Federation at the upcoming March 2 elections, and therefore also a shoo-in as the next Russian president. The concert will be headlined by the legendary English rock-n-roll band Deep Purple, and this was recently commented upon in the New York Time’s weblog “The Lede: Notes on the News,” by Mike Nizza, who notes that Putin himself will surely be present as well. (more…)

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EU Constitution Or Else . . . Doin’ the Yugoslav Breakdown*?

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

(Footnote out of the way first: * As opposed to doin’ the Foggy Mountain Breakdown, by Earl Scruggs – and folks, that link there actually takes you to a webpage showing the guitar fingerings for playing this timeless bluegrass classic!)

Prospects for a “Yes” vote on the proposed EU Constitutional Treaty are under pressure these days not only in France but also here in the Netherlands. Well, at least “Yes” is currently ahead of “No” by only about ten percentage points in the polls, which is taken to be a worrying sign. So cabinet ministers are swinging into action to tout the Constitution, including Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner who, as reported in the newspaper Trouw (registration required) has warned against the danger of war if the Constitution is not adopted.

War? Yes, war: Because without the more authoritative and more effective EU institutions that the Constitution will supposedly bring into being, Europe’s inherent “irritation, suspicion, and distrust” threatens to escalate out of control. Just like happened in the mid-1990s in the Balkans: “Yugoslavia was more integrated than the [European] Union is now, but bad will and the inability to stifle hidden irritations and rivalry led in a short time to war.” (more…)

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High-Tech Poker Conquers Denmark

Sunday, April 17th, 2005

Ludomani – there’s your Danish word for the day, meaning “compulsive gambling.” Plagues to society are one of my fascinations, and so will often be encountered on these pages, but make that plagues to rich societies. Europe is after all my self-appointed beat. So don’t expect to come to EuroSavant and find anything about the mysterious Marburg virus stalking Angola, for example. Instead, take a situation where national payment systems evolve to the point where you can send money almost anywhere, almost instantly; and where you can receive anywhere, on your mobile telephone, attractive, easy-to-look-at data. Two “goods,” right?, which must characterize a nation riding modern technology’s leading edge. Unfortunately, as the Danes are now finding out, what all this must also mean, sooner or later, is an explosion of high-tech gambling – and ludomani. (more…)

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What A Difference A Date Makes

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

Poor Charles and Camilla: their wedding plans have been beset by one problem after another. First of all, the Queen let it be made known that she did not intend to be there for the second marriage of her own eldest son. That ruled out access to every couple’s dream wedding-venue – Windsor Castle, naturally – and recourse instead to a garden-variety local town hall. The shine on the event had also quickly faded among the British public, who were noticeably slow to go after the usual commemorative souvenirs brought out for sale for a royal wedding – you know, teapots, coffee cups, dishtowels, that sort of thing.

Now, however, such souvenirs are flying off the shelves. It’s not so much because of the English reconsidering their attitudes towards the marriage of Prince Charels and Camilla Parker-Bowles, as it is due to another mishap on their path to the altar, reports Marianne Fajstrup in the Danish Berlingske Tidende (Wedding Souvenirs with the Wrong Date Hoarded). That darn Pope John Paul II, as sainted a guy as he was otherwise – I know, EuroSavant promised just yesterday not to cover him again – had to up and die on such a schedule that pencilled his funeral in for this upcoming Friday, just the day when the Prince of Wales was intending to tie the knot again. (more…)

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Freedom of Bathroom Information in the UK

Wednesday, January 5th, 2005

The UK has a new Freedom of Information Act. It used to be that you had to wait 30 years to get access to public documents, but now (or as of the beginning of the new year), in the words of Lady Ashton, the UK minister responsible for public records, “you will be able to request information and be given it as long as exemptions do not apply.” Those exemptions involve things you would expect, like national security or commercial secrets.

Now that access to public information in the UK has supposedly greatly widened, how are people taking advantage of that? The Guardian newspaper itself is pushing to get the legal advice given Tony Blair about whether Britain could join the United States in its attack on Iraq, according to international law, but indications are that request that will be blocked. And over Christmas, operatives of an opposition party, the Conservatives (these days it’s controversial whether they merit the label “the leading opposition party”), had great fun coming up with 120 “embarrassing questions” they want to pose to Tony Blair’s Labour government, i.e. to get information shedding further light on various awkward episodes in that government’s seven-year term in power such as its change-of-mind allowing a referendum on the EU Constitution when previously it had refused. (more…)

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Blind Love

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004

Another change-of-pace here at EuroSavant today – but we love to keep you all off-balance, after all. Today’s subject is the “sex scandal” currently embroiling Britain. And today’s text, for once, is itself in English and from an American newspaper, namely a recent entry (Anatomy of a Political Sex Scandal) in the “World Opinion Roundup” series Jefferson Morley writes regularly for the Washington Post. That “sex scandal” involves David Blunkett, who is Britain’s Home Secretary (i.e. the cabinet minister in charge of law-and-order and internal security, the equivalent of the Attorney General in the US). Morley’s piece will give you all the links that you need to articles in the British press examining various facets of this case, from various points-of-view. And even now, a couple days after it first appeared, none of the links have yet gone dead. (more…)

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Prodi Goes Off Berlusconi-Hunting

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

The new European Commission started work today – finally. They were supposed to start work on November 1, but got held up by one Rocco Buttiglioni, the Italian Commission candidate who was supposed to get the Justice and Home Affairs portfolio. In nomination hearings before a European Parliament committee, Buttiglione was not shy in setting forth his personal value-system in which homosexuals are sinners and women encouraged to stay home and care for the children. Those sorts of sentiments just won’t do for the EU of the 21st century, to the extent that if the Parliament had no other choice but to reject the entire new Commission proposed by Commission President Jose Manual Barroso in order to keep Buttiglione from taking his place within it – and, the way the EU’s rules now stand, it didn’t – then fine, they were willing to reject the entire new Commission. Barroso pulled back from this brink and managed to get rid of Buttiglioni and find another Italian much more to everyone’s liking.

The new token Italian – but Italians, don’t get offended: every one of the 25 member-states gets a “token” of its own on the Commission – turned out to be a very safe choice, namely Franco Frattini, or the Italian government official who is supposed to be most congenial to foreigners, that is, the foreign minister. (more…)

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High Tastelessness

Monday, October 4th, 2004

Heard of the latest new Russian pop music phenomenon? No one knows her real name; she’s known only as “n.A.T.o.” and is a self-professed “suicide bomber” musician, who performs in a full-length burqa (i.e. the all-covering Muslim female dress) and veil, singing in Arabic.

Yep, it’s apparently for real. I first got word of “n.A.T.o.” from Belgium’s De Standaard, whose De Kleine Parade feature always has short but noteworthy, even believe-it-or-not pieces of which I have made mention in this space before. But in this case there is thankfully even more extensive coverage available from an English-language source, namely Elizabeth Day’s article in Britain’s Telegraph. (more…)

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Another Hitler-Alert in Britain

Tuesday, August 31st, 2004

This is a first: if anything, EuroSavant is a “foreign press review” weblog, of course, but today’s entry is itself about a “foreign press review” article. There’s a new movie coming out of Germany that you are sure to hear much more of, if only from what has been heard of it already before it even opened in its home-market. It’s called Der Untergang (“The Downfall”), and its depiction of the last days of the Nazi regime in the spring of 1945 is based upon the book of the same name by noted Hitler scholar Joachim Fest, supplemented by the diary of Hitler’s secretary Traudl Junge.

You can well imagine the consternation in Germany over the making of a film that depicts the Führer in even a remotely-human light. But this is a weblog with an international bent, and the point of the article in today’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung by London correspondent Gina Thomas (British Fears: Does Germany Forgive Hitler?) is that the British media are already getting upset about the whole thing themselves. This when the rights for showing the film in the UK haven’t even been bought yet!

(By the way, that photo – from dpa/dpaweb – is not of the real historical article, but rather of the movie’s star, Bruno Ganz.) (more…)

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Germany! Become More American!

Wednesday, August 4th, 2004

It looks like I’m on something of a German roll here – but maybe that’s OK, since I noticed that articles from the German press tended to get short shrift in EuroSavant recently. (For instance, click the category for Germany to the left and see what’s there for the month of July.) In any case, who could resist a headline like “Germany Must Become More American” (free registration required)? (more…)

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Germans at the DNC Push Beyond Mere “Translation”

Monday, August 2nd, 2004

John Kerry delivered his acceptance speech last Thursday night to bring the Democratic National Convention to its culmination, and the German press was certainly paying attention. But this should have been no surprise to readers of the Economist (subscription required), which this week reminds us how Germans massively dislike George W. Bush, and so are presumably very interested in the personality and prospects of the alternative candidate who can send him packing to Crawford, Texas. (That Economist article, unfortunately, also dwells on Germans’ current dislike for the US generally – but, like the country or not, they surely cannot be under the delusion that the result of November’s presidential election has no impact on them.)

Unfortunately, most of the articles I surveyed in the German press covering Kerry’s acceptance speech were happy to limit themselves to a mere “translation function,” i.e. explaining to their readers what Kerry said. Most disappointing was such a “translator” article in Die Zeit (Kerry Wants to Restore the USA’s Prestige), from which we ordinarily can expect better – and that article itself was borrowed from the German business newspaper Handelsblatt. EuroSavant readers presumably had plenty of opportunity to read in English what Kerry said, if they didn’t already see the speech on TV live, so such articles are not so useful.

Handelsblatt wisely chose to keep its higher value-added materials for itself, though, as we can see from its editorial on Kerry’s speech (Bridge-Builder Kerry) from correspondent Michael Backfisch. (more…)

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Italian Legislators Ask Nader to Withdraw

Monday, July 26th, 2004

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…)

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Prospective Israeli Disasters

Monday, July 26th, 2004

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…)

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Foreigners Dominate Denmark’s Criminals

Friday, July 16th, 2004

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…)

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“Don’t You Stick Your Tongue Out at Me, Child . . .”

Sunday, June 27th, 2004

The BBC (no, I did not write Weekly World News) reports today that an Iranian woman has given birth to a frog.

That headline was the best I could do at short notice. Further suggestions from readers, in this entry’s “Comments” section or, if you want, just e-mailed to me privately, are most welcome. The contributor of the headline judged most witty – one that really just jumps out at me and leaves me green with envy – will win a free year’s subscription to the SegwayEuroTour e-newsletter.

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A Typology of the Modern British “Lad”

Thursday, June 17th, 2004

Yesterday I ventured to suggest that the disorder being caused by English fans down in Portugal on the occasion of Euro2004 will stay within acceptable limits, among other reasons because of the authorities’ tacit policy of encouraging the substitution of alcohol consumption with dope. Later news reports make me not so sure anymore. In any case, there’s an excellent and entertaining description in the Guardian (and so in English: Man, oh man), by novelist Andrew O’Hagan, that examines the phenomenon of the societal cohort from which these folk spring, the British “lad” (a.k.a “bloke,” often “lout”), as observed especially through the prism of the “lads’ magazines” that have sprung up in the British press since the mid-1990s to cater to their attitudes and desires. (more…)

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Dope = Happy. Booze = Mad.

Wednesday, June 16th, 2004

The Euro2004 European Football Championships are now well underway, with the first set of games completed last night, and the usual fears of violence among national team supporters that accompany such tournaments so far proving unfounded. Yes, there recently was some sort of confrontations with the police by English fans in Albufeira, as well as a German attack on rival fans in Porto, but the Guardian reports that Portuguese officials are playing down the seriousness of such incidents. (The British Home Office supplied here a useful explanatory phrase: “typical of the alcohol-fueled disorder common in Mediterranean resorts rather than orchestrated football hooliganism.”) Such assessments could well mean that the incidents were truly not serious – or they could ironically mean in the case of the English fans that authorities are desperately trying to ensure that the bluff of the European football association (UEFA) is not called, to the effect that the British football team would be expelled from the entire tournament if British fans misbehaved.

But let’s take the optimistic view that the confrontations in the fields outside the respective Portuguese sports stadiums are going along fairly peacefully. This could very well be thanks to a new policy wrinkle taken up by the Portuguese police, and reported in the German weekly Die Zeit (Learn from Holland): a green light for smoking dope. (more…)

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A “Pim Fortuyn” for Britain?

Wednesday, June 9th, 2004

The every-five-years elections to the European Parliament will begin tomorrow (some countries vote on Thursday, others on the following Sunday), and polls in the UK are pointing toward a surprising result. The heretofore almost-unknown UK Independence Party (UKIP) stands to post impressive results, which could catapult it up into the company of that country’s main political parties (Labour and the Conservatives) and leave the Liberal Democrats back in a distant fourth place.

The reason why this is alarming to many is at the same time the reason why the UKIP seems to be gaining so much support, namely its call for a “friendly” but complete withdrawal of Britain from the European Union. Up until the UKIP, the most “extreme” position on this issue had been that of the Conservatives, who maintain a suspicious attitude about what goes on within EU institutions, and who don’t want any new European Constitution and certainly won’t give up the pound sterling for the euro, but who don’t go so far as to advocate withdrawal (upon which, in the UKIP’s imaginings, the UK would join the ranks of countries like Norway and Switzerland, who supposedly enjoy much of the trade benefits associated with the EU anyway without having to put up with all that quasi-governmental stuff).

Even if most or all of the new British Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) turn out to come from the UKIP, that would not mean Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. But the worrying thing about that party’s seeming rise in popularity is that the British people’s attitudes towards the EU were supposed to get steadily more warm and chummy with time, guided by constant persuasion (propaganda?) from the bully-pulpit manned by a Labour government that has been in power since 1997. After all, referenda are now in store, eventually, on both the questions of switching to the euro and adopting a new EU Constitution (when/if member-state governments finally succeed in adopting one), and the hope had been that attitudes would have softened enough by the time those happen to ensure “Yes” votes. The UK is not obliged ever to adopt the euro – unlike, say, all of the ten new member-states, whenever they meet certain economic and fiscal criteria – but it’s possible (although still unclear at this point) that a “No” vote on the Constitution could indeed mean insistence from the other EU members that the UK withdraw its membership.

A key factor in the UKIP’s new popularity is said to be its new leading spokesman and candidate, Robert Kilroy-Silk, who had an interview show on the BBC up until earlier this year, when he had to resign after saying nasty things on-air about Arabs. There’s an entertaining portrait from the Guardian available, but I’m more intrigued by this analysis as to whether he might be the “British Pim Fortuyn,” from a source best-placed to judge such things: the Dutch newspaper Trouw. (more…)

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Eurovision Gerrymandering

Monday, May 17th, 2004

The yearly Eurovision Song Contest really should be, and deserves to be, ignored. A creation of the mid-1950s, when schmaltzy pop songs were still the thing, the Contest’s continued existence now into the 21st century makes no more meaningful cultural contribution than would an instruction manual on the proper wearing of the pantaloon.

So why is EuroSavant, now into its second year of existence, remarking on this yearly event for the second time? Could it be the well-known “car wreck” phenomenon: the campy songs, garish costumes, and ridiculous accessory acrobatics are uniformly awful, but you just can’t turn your eyes away? Or, given my own TV-less state, could it have something to do with the pretext the Contest provides each May for the lavish party thrown in Amsterdam by the leading Dutch recruitment/employment agency for international personnel, a party inevitably dominated by the huge TV screen broadcasting the proceedings? (This distraction, and the sheer volume of the sound, it must be said, pose considerable obstacles to the usual getting-to-know-you function of such a party, at least until on past midnight when the Contest is finally over.)

I prefer to try to excuse my coverage of something that I would rather never have to confess to even knowing about, much less seeing, by pointing to the political aspects that have crept into what is fundamentally supposed to be, if nothing else, a Eurofest of brotherhood and song. (more…)

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The European Constitution – French Counter-Point

Wednesday, February 18th, 2004

The issue of that proposed European Constitution – remember that thing? – simply will not go away, probably because it is said to be essential to ensure that the EU can continue to function after that 67% expansion (15 expanding by 10) that is due to happen on the upcoming May 1. Indeed, we’ve already passed the point at which it is inevitable that, even in the best-case scenario, that Constitution won’t be fully adopted and in-place until some time after the EU has expanded to 25. Fortunately, as The Economist recently reported (subscription required), some signs have arisen recently to give hope that that agreement over the Constitution and its adoption will happen sooner rather than later.

“Fortunately”? Actually, it’s useful to keep in mind the fact that the whole constitutional process is not just a matter of smoothing out the potholes and bumps along the way to a common goal everyone can agree is worth attaining. No, some folks out there just wish the whole thing would be canned, once and for all. Among these is in fact The Economist, which last June supplemented its article on Where to File Europe’s new constitution (subscription required) with a starkly eloquent cover-illustration (at least in its European edition): a filled-to-overflowing trash can. But The Economist is the English-language press, of course; and you rather look mainly to EuroSavant for the foreign-language press (although long-time readers will know that I dip into the British press on occasion).

No problem: There’s plenty of anti-EuroConstitution rhetoric there, too, especially if you want to be lazy (OK, I admit it) and head straight to the tried-and-true anti-Euro talking-shop as the housewife heads out for cuts of meat to her local butcher-shop. I refer here, of course, to Le Monde Diplomatique, the monthly sister publication to the leading French daily Le Monde. (more…)

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“Good-Bye, Lenin” – Hello, Communism?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2003

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…)

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What Ever Happened to Mary Carey . . .?

Thursday, November 6th, 2003

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.”)

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Princess Diana’s “Terrible Secret” – You Know It’s Irrepressible

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

Surely you’ve all been following the latest to-do having to do with Princess Diana, formerly of the British Royal Family until she had an unfortunate, and lethal, auto accident along the Seine in Paris in late August, 1997? Her former butler, and apparent intimate, Paul Burrell, is in a revelatory mood and has written a book about her, spilling all sorts of intimate details to the point that he has provoked a confrontation with William and Harry, her surviving sons. For all he has revealed, though, there is one terrible secret he has held back, something so sordid, so dastardly, it is said, that it “could destroy the royal family.” Gadzooks! (more…)

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Another Casualty of Brussels: Tony Blair

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003

You’re probably aware that British Prime Minister Tony Blair was hurried from Chequers to the hospital last Sunday suffering from chest pains and an irregular heartbeat. (You may or may not know that, at roughly the same time, his colleague, finance minister, and possible rival, Gordon Brown, was at a hospital in Scotland doting over his newly-born son.) Now, where did that come from? Tony Blair is renowned, among other things, for his rude health – a fact that was confirmed on a BBC World Service broadcast from earlier this week, in which one of his close acquaintances spoke of his diet of fruit, the Downing Street treadmill that he uses regularly, and his low weight for his height.

Maybe it was the coffee, that strong stuff that Blair’s Belgian hosts served at the end of last week at the European Council. At least that’s what Blair himself thinks, according to this article (“Bitter Blend” from The Independent, and therefore in English), which I was alerted to by this article in the Danish newspaper Politiken. Turns out he simply drank too much of it. And doctors quoted in that Independent article confirm that too much caffeine can indeed trigger the heart complaint that Blair was discovered to be suffering from – but that it can also “come out of the blue.”

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Denmark Rejoins the EU’s Small Countries

Sunday, October 5th, 2003

Yes, its “Denmark Day,” but time now to go in a more serious direction, which is the Danish government’s approach to the EU Constitutional Intergovernmental Conference that opened this weekend in Rome. This event is naturally at the top of the Danish news, and is covered in all three leading nationwide, general-interest dailies, Politiken, Belingske Tidende, and Jyllands-Posten.

It turns out that there is important news to report, as it seems that Danish premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen has altered his government’s policy towards the draft Constitution in a notable way as the IGC begins. (more…)

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Lindh and the Euro – The View from Denmark

Sunday, September 14th, 2003

Outside reality intruded for a while to hold up my planned survey of commentary in the Danish press over the murder of Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh and the effect of that incident on the upcoming Swedish referendum over whether to adopt the euro. But I did gather the relevant URLs on the subject from the main Danish on-line dailies, and am posting this early enough for there still to be suspense about the referendum’s outcome (for prompt EuroSavant readers, anyway.)

I start with Berlingske Tidende’s rather simplistic editorial leader, Svenskernes valg, or “The Swedes’ Choice.” (more…)

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“The Sinners are We”

Sunday, September 7th, 2003

That’s the title of an interesting commentary piece in the latest Die Zeit by Uwe Jean Heuser – a remarkable mea culpa for Germany from a German writer, which puts into stark relief the striking (if rather unfortunate) ironies attending the birth of the Euro and the current state of finances in Euroland (that is, in those twelve-out-of-fifteen EU countries that have adopted it as their common currency). (more…)

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Poles in Iraq V: The Poles Get a Break

Wednesday, August 27th, 2003

I’ve always envied Miami Herald humor columnist Dave Barry‘s seemingly endless supply of “alert readers,” ready to send word to him whenever they catch sight of any phenomenon out there having to do with the subject at hand – in Dave Barry’s case, namely the bizarre. But now even I am starting to attract “alert readers,” one of whom pointed my attention to a recent article in the British newspaper The Independent about how the Americans are not ready yet to give up to Polish-controlled forces quite all of the vital sector that is supposed to be entrusted to them as of 1 September, not in light of recent troubles within that sector.

Of course, the “€S way” is to take any such English-language reporting as merely an initial guide, and then to go seek confirmation and possible amplification in the relevant foreign press. Sure enough, Gazeta Wyborcza also recently had an article telling about, and analyzing, this new development. (more…)

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