The Speech: From Berlin to Denver

Friday, August 29th, 2008

He came out to the podium, he gazed out upon the 80,000 upturned faces aglow – and then last night Senator Barack Obama laid out his vision for his presidential campaign and for the presidency presumably to follow.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying here to push any Republican-inspired “Messiah” or “Moses-parting-the-seas” irony to cast last evening’s events in a disparaging light. Indeed, it was an impressive spectacle – complete with letter-perfect weather! – that itself rightly dominated the news-cycle and to which reactions still dominate that news-cycle this morning.

The same is not quite true in Europe, which has plenty else to talk about today, but Barack Obama’s speech has still gotten plenty of attention even now (i.e. as your EuroSavant writes this), less than 12 hours after it was delivered. Let’s again start with reactions from those who were vouchsafed their own up-close look at the Senator’s speechifying, last July in Berlin, namely the Germans. (more…)

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Danish Eyes Behold American Politics

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

In my troll through the European-press Net today for something interesting in reaction to Hillary Clintons’ speech to the Democratic National Convention of early this morning (CET), I made it through quite a bit of the French and the Danish but didn’t really find any sort of contrary view or interesting perspective to pass on. I guess the key to judging the New York senator’s performance was listening and watching very closely to spot any signs of left-over rancor or half-heartedness in the support for Barack Obama that she was professing for herself and urging all Democrats to share, and no doubt that sort of analysis is always best left to those closely sharing both her American English idiom and cultural background. The coverage I looked at basically swallowed her professions of loyalty hook, line, and sinker – and who knows, maybe she did really mean it – although I did discover the French equivalent of her new tag line “No way, no how, no McCain.” It’s D’aucune façon il ne faut McCain – and for once, my friends (as the presumptive Republican candidate himself would put it), I have to admit that the French language comes up second-best in the hard-hitting slogan department.

(Oh, and why French and Danish today? Just following this weblog’s general modus operandi, i.e. because I felt like it, although I also had a sense of not having discussed anything French or Danish lately and wanted to re-balance things a bit.)

However, I did run across an interesting piece by Johan Vardrup, the reporter sent to Denver by the well-respected Danish daily Berlingske Tidende, entitled Republicans hold happy hour for Hillary. From its very first line in the lede (“What won’t one do to fish for votes?”) you get a clear-cut sense of Vardrup’s attitude here: Damn, these Americans truly play some electoral hardball! (more…)

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Promised Beijing Protest Opportunities? Not So Much

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

It was something to make you wonder aloud: “Are they serious?” As part of the good face towards the outside world that China was trying to build in the run-up to the Beijing Games – an attempt to live up to supposed “Olympic ideals,” since similar measures had apparently been introduced at the Athens and Sydney Olympics – back last month the Chinese authorities announced that protests and demonstrations would be legally allowed, but only within zones that would be designated within three of Beijing’s parks, namely the Zizhuyuan, Ritan, and World Parks, respectively in the city’s NW, E, and SW parts. All that was necessary was to apply for permission five days in advance, specifying in your application, in detail, the planned nature of the protest, the topic, and the number of participants.

(If you’d like a bit of English-language amusement, you can check out the on-line article about this from Xinhua, one of China’s two official news agencies. The respective park managers are diligently boning up on the national “law on assemblies, procession and demonstrations” to get prepared; meanwhile, park visitors express alarm that their lives could be disturbed.)

No, of course they were not serious. (more…)

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Contemplating the Meaning of Paris

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

By now you will have seen the “Paris Hilton Responds to John McCain” comic video, of course. Well, it turns out that Paris is now on a trip to Denmark – which prompts one of the mainstream Danish papers, Berlingske Tidende, to issue a meditation not so much on her new video per se, but on the Paris Hilton phenomenon generally (Paris Hilton Has Landed). (more…)

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American Conditions – and Her Worst President Ever

Friday, April 18th, 2008

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…)

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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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High Tech Exhibitionism

Tuesday, January 25th, 2005

Ah great, a short-but-spicy piece to get us back into the blogging swing of things! From the Danish press this time: Berlingske Tidende has a notable account (taken from the Danish press agency, Ritzau) about standards of after-the-sale service provided in the Danish retail sector.

The article is actually entitled Flasher by Video Mobile Telephone, and tells the tale of a 40-year-old salesman in a mobile telephone store in Hillerod (a suburb of Copenhagen) who has confessed to the authorities to more than one hundred violations of public decency. Women who came to his store to purchase a mobile telephone with video capabilities could usually look forward to seeing him again, for he would take advantage of the telephone number information he had about them to take the initiative and call them. The problem was not so much that they were seeing him again, but that they were seeing him again in their new video phones naked. And he just wouldn’t stand there, either; he tended to, shall we say, use the occasion to handle his merchandise, by which I really mean “manhandle,” I guess.

This is Denmark, though, after all, and the accused was released on his own recognizance after interrogation. (I do hope they remembered to relieve him of his mobile telephone!) Still, as the article sternly ends, he can certainly “look forward to legal consequences.”

UPDATE: Another day passes, and the Berlingske Tidende editors are still interested in this story. Only they still haven’t quite reached the point where they’ll assign one of their own reporters to it; the account contained in this update (“Over 100 Women Exposed to Mobile-Flasher”) they credit to the Frederiksborg Amts Avis which, with all respect, really seems to be basically your run-of-the-mill pissant local-news newspaper. (No, EuroSavant will certainly not add it to the site’s Danish newspaper coverage list.)

Be that as it may . . . any further juicy details? Not really. The article recounts how around 100 women have complained about those specific performances by the suspect in their video mobile phone screens that they never expected to see, while the actual total of victims is reckoned to be considerably higher because of the natural reluctance in such a case to report the harassment. But the original Ritzau article essentially also said that. This new article does add details about how tough it was to track the offender down, since he was using an unregistered calling-card, so that investigators had to put together evidence about where the various calls had been placed to pin down the perpetrator.

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No NATO for Ukraine

Saturday, December 11th, 2004

One of the key international figures involved in brokering the deal between the Ukrainian government and the opposition that finally led to the agreement for the election repeat on December 26 was Spain’s Javier Solana. But it’s vital here to stay up-to-date on Solana’s career path: he was NATO Secretary-General, but that was in the period 1995-1999. In 2004 in Kiev he has rather represented the European Union, as its High Representative for the Common Foreign & Security Policy (together with the presidents of Poland and Lithuania, who were also actively present there). Thus, it was the EU that was there on the scene, wielding influence from being not only Ukraine’s neighbor but also the club most Ukrainians wants to join. NATO, on the other hand, was not there; and, as Ole Bang Nielsen of Denmark’s Berlingske Tidende reminds us (NATO Puts Ukraine on Ice), the Ukraine cannot expect to find itself on NATO’s short-list of new-member candidates anytime soon. (more…)

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Europe’s Forgotten Land

Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

Ole Bang Nielsen of Denmark’s Berlingske Tidende provides a lot of useful background to the electoral dramatics currently going on in the Ukraine today (Europe’s Forgotten Land). Basically, the EU has dropped the ball – or has it? (more…)

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Commentary from Denmark on Bush & the Debates

Sunday, October 10th, 2004

There’s an interesting analysis of Friday evening’s second Bush-Kerry debate from Denmark’s Berlingske Tidende. You get a heavy dose of the message in the very title: Good – But Not Good Enough, Bush. (more…)

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A Chastened George Bush Before the UN

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

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…)

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Blue-Eyed Drunks

Tuesday, September 7th, 2004

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…)

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Mink Tragedy

Thursday, August 19th, 2004

And continuing with today’s “Take Cover!” theme . . .

That sure was some violent thunderstorm that hit Jutland (i.e. the Danish mainland) on Tuesday. For its lightning claimed not only the 31 cows mentioned in an entry below, but also around 1,000 domesticated minks.

Yes, as Berlingske Tidende reports today (this time they were the only major on-line newspaper to carry this story), lightning also hit a building on a mink-farm Tuesday morning near Grindsted, also in mid-Jutland but just a little more south than where all those cows died. Now, it was not the case this time that all these minks were electrocuted at once; rather, the lightning-strike set on fire some of the straw put in and around their cages, and soon the whole building was up in flames. Naturally, the fire department had to be called out.

Sorry, after that first remarkable report about the fried cows, I felt almost an obligation to follow-up with the other entries you see here with the same general theme of “havoc from the skies.” This should be the last – let’s hope – because otherwise I won’t be able to help myself again, and you’re sure to hear about it . . .

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Blitzburgers

Thursday, August 19th, 2004

Those into keeping track of “world records” – not of the Olympic variety – will be interested in some curious but sad news recently out of Denmark. All three of the main Danish national papers carried the same report from the Danish press agency Ritzau yesterday (here it is, for example, in Berlingske Tidende) about how thirty-one cows were killed in a recent storm by a single bolt of lightning. (more…)

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Plane Hijack Scare Over Denmark Last 1 May

Friday, August 13th, 2004

An interesting incident of the beginning of last May is just now coming to light, initially out of reporting from the Spanish newspaper El País but then picked up by the major Danish dailies. All this makes sense, since it concerns a Boeing 727 from the Spanish charter-airline Air Europa which started to misbehave last May 1 as it crossed Danish airspace. Specifically, it did not respond to attempted radio contact by the Danish flight-control authorities, something that is a big no-no in this post-September 11 world. Alarms were sounded; military fighters were scrambled. (more…)

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Of Special Ties and Low-Profile Dogs

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

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…)

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(Back) Into Iraq? Ummm . . . You First!

Sunday, July 25th, 2004

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…)

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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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Pact With The Devil

Thursday, July 15th, 2004

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…)

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Danes on Edwards

Thursday, July 8th, 2004

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…)

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Grinning and Bearing it in Germany

Sunday, July 4th, 2004

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…)

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Denmark Contemplates the Iraqi Con-Man

Thursday, May 27th, 2004

And now to the latest Iraq-related scandal. No, really: this one centers around the person of Ahmed Chalabi, of the Iraqi National Congress, long the Pentagon’s favorite anti-Saddam Iraqi exile, recipient of a monthly $335,000 payment from the (US) Defense Intelligence Agency, and, in return, the source of juicy intelligence from within the Hussein regime, most notably about its stocks of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The recent raid on Chalabi’s Baghdad house to seize computer records and documents, performed by Iraqi policemen under the protection of US soldiers, was a signal that perhaps this relationship is not so cozy anymore, something understandable given the record so far of those WMD actually turning up in practice. Now there is talk that Chalabi might have been an agent in the pay of Iran all along, feeding the Bush administration with the false information on Iraq that it wanted to hear as a justification to depose Hussein, while at the same time feeding his Iranian paymasters with truly exclusive top secret American intelligence information.

Yes, the suspicion is dawning that the United States might essentially have been hoodwinked into going to war against Iraq – and that officials at this administration’s highest levels might eventually have to answer charges of the unauthorized passing-on of choice information to their good comrade Chalabi, only to see it transferred right along to officials in Tehran. The broad outline of all this, at least, should be familiar by now to anyone who peruses the major American papers (New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times) on a regular basis; I myself rather like the extensive account given here on the Parapundit weblog (and updated here). One interesting side-question that Parapundit’s Randall Parker raises is: How long before the rest of the world wakes up to the fact that, when it comes to international intrigue, we (i.e. the Americans) are nothing but “a bunch of country hick rubes”?

Well, the Danes probably are already aware of this, for one. (more…)

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Beware of Danes Baring Rifts

Wednesday, May 12th, 2004

Danish premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen is scheduled to visit President Bush at the White House on May 28. Indications are mounting that the meeting might be a bit less friendly than usual, given the Iraqi prisoner treatment scandal that erupted last week. Of course, this top-level visit was planned months ago, so that latest unpleasantness is by no means the meeting’s motivation. But prisoner treatment is not the only burr under the Danish saddle, by far. To a great extent (although with less visibility, since there’s less world interest), the Danes are in the same boat as the British: having unreservedly backed the Americans in the approach to and conduct of the War in Iraq, they are now reaping that whirlwind, particularly in view of the failure to turn up of the weapons of mass destruction that were to many the war’s main justification. In April Danish defense minister Svend Aage Jensby resigned as pressure mounted within the Danish parliament, the Folketing, over the present government’s allegedly misleading behavior that led Denmark to support and participate in the war – although admittedly only to the extent of the dispatch one non-combatant ship. (Still: an example of the enforcement of public official accountability that other countries would be wise to follow? You make the call.) (more…)

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Damp-Squib Chemical Weapons Find in Iraq

Tuesday, January 13th, 2004

It seems that Danish troops over the past weekend uncovered in southern Iraq some artillery shells that quite likely were filled with the “blister agent” chemical weapon. I was first alerted to this by an entry in Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo site, where he also linked to a BBC report on the find. Naturally, this sort of thing called for a search on in the Danish press for word of what had gone on, and what it might mean. The answer: not that much. (more…)

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Countdown to the Brussels Summit I: Irritation at Poland

Monday, December 8th, 2003

Last week, while we here at EuroSavant were obsessing over the previous Sunday’s draw for the European Football Championship next summer, Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller and several of his entourage were victims of a helicopter crash while returning to Warsaw from a visit to Silesia (the southwest part of Poland). No one was killed, but Miller himself sustained serious injuries to his back, and Polish newspapers all ran a photograph recently showing him lying in a hospital bed, all bandaged up although otherwise looking as hardy and self-composed as usual, with President Aleksander Kwasniewski sitting alongside.

According to Miller, his injuries won’t prevent him from attending the climactic EU summit in Brussels over the draft Constitution coming up this weekend, even if he has to show up there in a body-cast. In a recent analysis entitled The Poles Are Europe’s New Nay-Sayers, the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende points out that what is likely to be waiting for him there, at the least, are marathon negotiating sessions stretching long into the night “which can force even healthy politicians to their knees.” And that even means “healthy politicians” whose member-states have mainly stayed on the sidelines during the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), remaining above the acrimony. For the main protagonist in the process that the Poles have become, on the other hand, the coming days can be expected to bring not only long nights but also intense pressure. (more…)

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The Danes Wax Rhetorical Over Naples

Sunday, November 30th, 2003

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…)

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Michael Jackson and other “Riddles of Rock”

Sunday, November 23rd, 2003

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…)

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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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