Seeing Freedom’s Light, Finally?

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Back not so long ago, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, this weblog took up a brief examination of behavior on the part of the authorities which seemed to belie the commitment to freedom of expression which supposedly was what had been assaulted by the three Parisian killers, and for which – there can be no doubt – those many thousands of citizens marched in the streets of Paris (and other French cities, indeed other cities throughout the world) on Sunday, 11 January. Indeed, when it soon came to the gumshoes hitting the pavement there turned out not to be much loyalty to free expression, but rather to the enforcement of a quite lopsided expression regime under which it is quite OK to mock Islam, but beyond the pale – indeed, arrestable – to mock or denigrate those who mock Islam or to express any sort of sympathy or understanding for why those killers acted as they did.

This much was clear quite soon in France, but unfortunately the same syndrome was also evident in Denmark, where some 23-year-old guy (among others) who expressed approval of the Paris killings was arrested when the authorities found out, and his apartment thoroughly searched.

Now, as of last weekend, we saw the same variety of Charlie Hebdo terror strike Denmark itself, with the shootings at the public debate over blasphemy and the arts, followed by an assault at Copenhagen’s historic Grand Synagogue, that in the end left a total of two innocents dead and many wounded. And as sure as mushrooms pop up out of the ground after a rainstorm, there followed commentators ready to praise the “sacrifice” of gunman Omar al-Hussein:

AarhusAK
You see that the name of the Facebook account and its associated photo-avatar has been obscured, but the accompanying Jyllands-Posten article tells us most of what we’d like to know: 26 years old; head of a family; of Palestinian origin; and he doesn’t even live in Copenhagen but rather near Denmark’s second-largest city, Aarhus, located on the Jutland peninsula. He’s identified simply as “AK,” and if he doesn’t win any style-points for originality, he at least is multi-lingual: you see that this Facebook update has not only Je suis Omar but also Vi er alle Omar (Danish for “We are all Omar” – I’d beg to differ) as well as Allah yerhamak (properly: الله يرحمك) or “God bless you.” (more…)

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Denmark Looks On In Horror

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Some reactions from the Danish press to the Oslo bombing/Utøya massacre:

  • Here’s your connection between the two episodes: As Jyllands-Posten reports, the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who barely escaped injury in the capital, was scheduled today to be on Utøya to address the young people there at what was after all a summer camp run by the Labor Party, of which Stoltenberg is the head. (That article also has at the top a brief video giving a helicopter-view of the island itself – and of some swimmers desperately trying to get away from it.)
  • Another Danish mainstream paper, Berlingske, wields the obvious parallel: A Norwegian Timothy McVeigh. It quotes a few experts who maintain that the likelihood for violent incidents of this kind should have been apparent from extreme-right literature, imagining future race-wars and the like, that has been circulating in Scandinavia for a while. And it examines the alleged shooter’s social media trail and unearths his self-description as a conservative Christian fed up with the Norwegian Church’s hyper-modernism, wanting it to get “back to basics.” Right, back to Jesus and his disciples, presumably – a notorious gang of killers . . .
  • As for a Christian Danish paper, namely the Kristeligt Dagblad . . . well, they get it wrong. Very wrong. Their on-line article Here is why Norway became a target for terror, datelined today (Saturday, 23 June 2011), goes on and on about why Norway is logically a target for Muslim extremists, even as the caption to the picture up top mentions the arrest of “a 32-year-old strongly nationalistic man.” It’s hardly the only media outlet to fall into this trap – frankly, I was hearing a lot about “Muslim terror” on the BBC World Service during its initial coverage – but that’s no excuse. Don’t be surprised if the article is gone, or at least heavily modified, should you decide to click through to see it.

Finally, back on a somewhat lighter note, Prince was actually supposed to play Oslo today and tomorrow, in concerts that had long been sold out, reports Berlingske. Obviously, those can’t go ahead just now, but these performances are merely postponed, not canceled, and also not by much: just two weeks to 2 & 3 August. The Purple One might well be advised to avoid Controversy and bring along no Chaos & Disorder.

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Latest Danish Super-Bridge

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Denmark (see the adjoining map, click to enlarge) is very much, if not exclusively, an island-nation. And Denmark remains quite prosperous as well, having so far weathered the financial crises and “Great Recession” of the past few years with aplomb. These two facts have combined to produce a wave of bridge-building projects over the past fifteen years or so – after all, if there’s plenty of government money, why not use some of it to ease inter-island communications? First the Danish authorities built the Great Belt Bridge (almost 7 km long) connecting the island of Fyn with that of Sjælland (where Copenhagen is situated) in 1998. (On the map, it’s in the middle, linking up “Nyborg” on the left/West with “Korsør” on the right/East.) Then in 2000 the Øresund Bridge (almost 8km long) was opened connecting Copenhagen with the Swedish mainland city of Malmö.

The next project will be creating a link ultimately to connect Copenhagen with Hamburg, one that crosses that strait you see there at bottom labeled “Fehmarn Bælt” between the Danish Rødby Havn (North) and the German Puttgarden (South). Right now a couple of commercial ferries serve cars, trains, bicycles and pedestrians for crossing that distance of about 18.6km in about 45 minutes. But that is increasingly not good enough for the requirements of 2010, at least in the eyes of the Danish Transport Ministry which has taken over the project’s leadership – supervised, of course, by the Danish legislature, or Folketing. (more…)

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The Hurt Locker Slams Avatar

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

That was the take-away from last Sunday night’s broadcast of the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony from the Kodak Theatre [sic] in Hollywood, California. But what a surprise! Avatar, after all, was the film with the great special effects (blue people!) that since its release a few short months ago (December 2009) has already become the #1 highest-grossing film of all time. And then The Hurt Locker – who ever heard of that? Pre-Oscar, it had earned only $14.7 million, 50 times less than Avatar!

Nonetheless, The Hurt Locker clearly came out on top last Sunday night, in a classic David-vs.-Goliath encounter. But why? Uffe Christensen of Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten has devoted a bit of thought to this question (together with considerably more energy in tracking down scattered opinions from the Web), and presents his findings in Days afterward: Hollywood is astonished.

According to Christensen, here is why The Hurt Locker prevailed:


  1. It’s not any sort political film, just a band-of-buddies movie.
  2. It’s a film with a powerful message about the Iraq War. (I know, this conflicts directly with #1 above but, like I said, Christensen is throwing together here all the opinions he has been able to find or think up himself).
  3. It didn’t matter that the film has not earned that much at the box office (yet); in fact, Oscar juries tend to be perverse to the point of even giving such “obscure” firms a slight voting edge.
  4. The Bigelow angle: here was a chance to be very PC and award the first female film director of note with a bunch of awards in a very public forum!

Or maybe it was not so much that The Hurt Locker won as that Avatar lost. Here are some ways that movie might have been disadvantaged:

  1. The very nature of the Oscar jury might have doomed Avatar’s chances. They are described here, in an direct quote from Time Magazine, as “older, politically liberal and artistically conservative” – especially artistically conservative, as Christensen reminds us with the tale of how the iconic Citizen Kane, after all, was beaten across the board at the 1942 Awards by How Green Was My Valley.
  2. Avatar is, after all, a sci-fi film, and those never win. Plus, it’s much too grandiose anyway, and the jury doesn’t like that.
  3. Cameron is a blowhard – the jury was ready to do anything, to violate any standard of artistic judgment, just to spare itself having to witness what inevitably would have been an arrogant, ego-driven acceptance speech from him up there on that Kodak Theatre [sic] stage.

There you go: hope you find something you like. And then, for an interesting alternate analysis of why The Hurt Locker beat Avatar, in English, you can go here. And for the essay which most of you have probably already seen about why anyone with ground combat experience thinks rather little of The Hurt Locker, its many Oscars notwithstanding, you can go here.

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Can Your Genes Tell You How to Lose Weight?

Monday, March 8th, 2010

“Yes,” is the answer we get from a recent article by reporter Ron Winslow in the Wall Street Journal. Some lose weight easier and faster by following a low-fat diet, while others do so with a low-carbohydrate regime, and Winslow reports that a recent Stanford University study concluded “that a genetic test can help people choose which one works best for them.”

Still, Winslow makes sure to qualify his reporting, pointing out for example that “[t]he study . . . has just been submitted to a medical journal and thus hasn’t yet cleared rigorous peer review that precedes publication.” And it’s good that he does so, since today Line Ziegler Laursen of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten takes up the same subject.

Her headline does read “DNA decides whether diet-cures work,” yet she also goes on to discuss how Danish researchers have investigated the same question and remain a bit more skeptical. Arne Astrup, known as “one of Denmark’s slimming-experts,” is quoted here that, although results of the Danish research do come out along the same lines, the statistical relation they discovered “is relatively weak, and therefore it is unreliable for researchers to guarantee patients a large weight-loss if they know their DNA.” Rather, the Danish scientists are of the opinion that successful weight-loss is still a matter of at least three or four different factors, not just the patient’s DNA. They have put in a request to Stanford to review the data from the tests conducted there, in order to look into the question further.

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Olympians Playing Stoned

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

This post is intended as a shout-out to Jay, to Letterman, to comedy-writing staffs everywhere. Here’s the deal: I give you the straight line, culled from a real live news-piece – Women’s curling team receives psychological help, reports the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten – and you take it from there. It doesn’t have to mean sending me your women’s curling jokes (it wouldn’t have to be “Danish”) by e-mail*; I’d be satisfied just with hearing a good one – just one! – from Leno’s monologue, or simply having it come back home here to Papa through the Internets somehow.

This choice of topic is not accidental, although its further elaboration in the Danish press is serendipitous. And to a great extent I am offering my find here in gratitude for some great introductory curling material already enjoyed. I’m referring specifically to Letterman, Wednesday night, February 17, and his material could also be of help in providing some background for those of you who may have no idea what this Olympic sport of “curling” is all about.

In curling, they get a 40 lb. granite stone and send it down the ice and then they sweep the debris from in front of it. It’s all the fun of shuffleboard, plus household chores.

(more…)

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Vikings vs. Pirates

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

The pirate threat in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast is still very real, and Denmark recently was given the opportunity for the very first time to be in charge of the collection of NATO frigates (currently four) conducting anti-pirate operations in that area under the name Operation Ocean Shield. From January 25 Danish fleet admiral Christian Rune took over command, as his flagship Absalon set sail for the area after a stop in port at Muscat, the capital of Oman. He will stay in charge until March.

(Absalon – pictured here, photocredit to Uncle Buddha on Flickr – was the “fighting archbishop” of the Danish Middle Ages, who did much to build up Copenhagen towards the city it was to become by building a fort there. His statue is there in the city’s center, mounted on a magnificent rearing horse, in Højbroplads – that’s the square right by the Folketing, Denmark’s one-chamber parliament. The main sort of enemy he fought in his day, it turns out, was in fact Baltic Sea pirates.)

It’s no surprise that the Absalon has already seen some action, and the Danish press is following along to report. (more…)

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Whodunit?

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

I’m not that much into crime novels myself, but for a long while it has been difficult for anyone interested in literature generally to remain unaware of the name of Stieg Larsson (pictured left), the Swedish author who died a few years ago (in 2004, to be precise) but whose posthumous fictional works have been a tremendous success throughout the world, topping European fiction sales in 2009, for example. Inevitably, a movie based on one book from his so-called Millenium Trilogy will be out in the Spring, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which was actually titled Men Who Hate Women when his works were first published in Swedish back in 2005).

Ah – but were they his works? Did he really write them? Doubt about his whole literary output is now cropping up in the Scandinavian press, such as in an article by Uffe Christensen on kpn.dk (“Allegation: Larsson could not write”), the on-line culture pages of Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “Could not write”: Note well that this does not reflect some mere aesthetic judgment (as in “Really, old chap, in the final analysis James Joyce just could not write!”). Rather, these are assertions that Larsson simply did not have the minimal command of the Swedish language to have written “his” fiction himself.

The main claim comes from Anders Hellberg, now a journalist at the newspaper Dagens Nyheter, but formerly a close colleague of Larsson’s at the Swedish news agency Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. (Larsson worked mainly as a graphic designer there, but also was editor – and, supposedly, a writer – for various other science fiction and Trotskyite journals.) Says Hellberg: “The Millenium-author Stieg Larsson was a master of research, but a poor reporter. One can suspect that his significant-other [DK: samlever] Eva Gabrielsson had an active role in his authorship.” Plus, he had poor handwriting, could not spell, and had a shaky grasp of grammar.

Hellberg is willing to state flatly that Larsson could not have written his works himself. And this judgment is seconded by one Kurdo Baksi, who is currently writing a biography of Larsson and who also tells the Dagens Nyheter, “It has always been a riddle to me how he could have written these books.” But what about Ms. Gabrielsson herself? She stands by her (deceased) man:

What is in the Millenium Trilogy Stieg wrote. I read the proofs and had discussions with Stieg. But I did not intervene to write anything myself. That would have been like taking the brush from a great painter.”

Maybe even if it turns out that she did have a rather greater role in helping him write than she is willing to admit, it won’t turn out to be that big a deal. Larsson no longer walks among us, anyway. But if somehow it does, remember: unless you regularly read Danish or Swedish, you probably heard about it here first!

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Here We Go Again . . .

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Don’t look now, but the controversy of the Danish Mohammed cartoons has sprung back to life. This time it’s in Norway, where last week the newspaper Aftenposten decided to republish the twelve controversial drawings – not out of any idle curiosity as to what would happen next, but as a sort of tribute to the Dane Kurt Westergaard, one of the cartoonists originally involved and the lightning-rod for the entire group who you might remember was the subject of an attempted assault on his home back on New Year’s Day. (This is reported by Jens Ehlers in the Danish paper Jyllands-PostenHas Norway gotten its own Mohammed-crisis? – which, appropriately enough, was the one to originally publish the cartoons, and which still pays Westergaard for his work.)

Of course, no curiosity is needed as to what happened next: the Pakistani Foreign Ministry condemned the newspaper’s action, and demonstrators materialized in the Pakistani city Lahore, burning Norwegian flags. But this time, according to Ehlers, they numbered only a “two-figured number of persons,” i.e. in the tens. The editor-in-chief of the Norwegian paper, Hilde Haugsgjerd, was not particularly upset at seeing her country’s colors go up in smoke (then again, I think few Norwegians would be, just because they are laid-back): “They should have their freedom-of-expression in the same way that we have our freedom-of-expression. That doesn’t change anything in our judgment.”

Nor should it. Frankly, the cartoons should really published anew on a regular schedule, not just in reaction to some new event. Yes, they are supposedly insulting to some aspect of Islam, but by this point they could be a key symbol of Western-style freedom-of-expression, one of our fundamental freedoms, which holds that anything and everything should be allowed to be ridiculed, and if anyone doesn’t like that, then that’s just too bad. Remember that the reason the Jyllands-Posten editor decided to commission and print them in the first place back in late 2005 was his fear that implicit threats of violence were leading to de facto self-censorship of any writings or drawings concerning Islam, in effect a creeping, furtive denial of that freedom-of-expression. It’s to fight that sort of craven self-denial, by means of clear, repeated examples of refusing to be intimidated, that I feel these cartoons should be republished on a regular basis.

(And is there no aesthetic consciousness out there in the Muslim world – somewhere? anywhere? – that would interpret a rendering of Mohammed’s head fused with traditional Islamic half-moon-and-star iconography as a clever piece of art, as even a tribute and compliment to the Prophet and those who follow his teachings?)

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Indians! Don’t Travel to Australia!

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

That’s as in Asian Indians, although who knows? Maybe American Indians should also forget about heading “down under” for a while. This “no-travel” advice is addressed by the Indian government to its citizens, according to coverage in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten. (I know: talk about globalization!) It is prompted by a wave of ugly attacks against Indians in Melbourne, topped off by a recent incident in which a gang actually set one young Indian man on fire. His condition is still listed as “critical” at a local hospital. Indeed, although such attacks (although usually not involving fire) have occurred over the past couple years, the local Indian community in Australia is worried that they are becoming ever-more frequent.

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Unsuccessful New Year’s Assault on Danish Cartoonist

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

Somalia_Islamic_Courts_Flag.svgThe US had its failed terror attack on Christmas Day (occuring in the skies around Detroit, if the festive season has kept you from paying attention). Now Denmark has its own such incident, for New Year’s: a Danish-speaking man of Somali origin was shot and arrested yesterday evening as, armed with an axe and a knife, he broke into the house near the city of Aarhus of Kurt Westergaard, one of the Danish cartoonists who, with their drawn interpretations of the prophet Mohammed, raised the ire of the Muslim world starting in late 2005.

Naturally, this is the subject of extensive coverage today in the Danish press. This includes the Danish news agency Ritzau so that, as is usual with a major Danish story, identical articles attributed to that agency make up the core coverage of most on-line papers, supplemented here and there by original in-house reporting. (more…)

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“This Car Drives on Rock ‘N Roll!”

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

First subject for today: ringtones. Maybe you have a special one for your mobile telephone. Soon, though, you might be called upon to choose one for your new car. Well, at least Jyllands-Posten journalist Kurt Hedevang is using “ringtone” for the artificial motor-noise your future electric car may make just to let everyone else know of its presence (Get your own “ringtone” for your car). As he points out, for decades auto manufacturers have striven to come up with vehicles with ever-quieter engines – silence was good, it was the ideal to aim for. Now, however, for electrical vehicles a silent drive-train is a given, and suddenly that’s not so much of a good thing. It’s not as if there has been any wave of incidents where these vehicles caused injury; they’re still too rare for that. Nevertheless, their manufacturers now are determined to add some noise – artificial, if need be – to their vehicles to let other vehicles, near-by playing children, etc. know that they are there. Their stance is supported by a recent study from the University of California that showed that people could detect a conventional vehicle approaching at 8 km/hr from nine meters away, but an electric car only by the time it was 2 meters away.

Electric cars, it seems then, will make some noise. Hedevang quotes a New York Times article (which I could not track down) to the effect that the Japanese manufacturers Nissan and Toyota are onto this issue already: the former is seeking advice from the film industry (!) about which sounds to use, while the latter is content to consult the Japanese traffic authorities and interest-groups for the blind. But why not just let the customer choose his new car’s “ringtone”? There is also a quote from a BMW spokesperson that that should soon be possible for that company’s electric cars, but customers of the ultra-luxury “Karma” electric car from Fisker Automotive already get to do that. (So Hedevang’s article says; as for me, I could not find any reference to the choosing-your-own-engine-noise option on that Fisker Automotive website.)

Of course, you’ll always encounter contrary opinions to groundbreaking developments like this, and here those come from one Paul Scott of Santa Monica, CA, vice-president of the electric car interest-group “Plug In America.” Naturally, he owns and drives such a vehicle, a nice and quiet Toyota RAV4. For him, silence in a vehicle is next to godliness; having labored for so long to get to the silent motor, automotive engineers should not now be forced to surrender their achievement. Instead, by his reasoning it is still properly the vehicle driver’s responsibility to make sure he doesn’t hit anyone. So what does Scott do? Whenever he drives up to a (blind) corner, he opens up his Toyota’s window and turns up the radio.

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Danish Reflections on Obama Visit, Chicago’s Olympic Loss

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

In light of Chicago’s surprise last-place finish in the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) deliberations over which city would get to host the 2016 Summer Games, considering that the Committee met in Copenhagen it’s perhaps worthwhile to take a look at the Danish press to try to answer various questions. Like: What happened? How could Chicago have lost? (more…)

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For Glove or For Money

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

My apologies: another brief Michael Jackson bit here. (No, interest in the “King of Pop” shows no sign of dying away yet in Europe, either.) Perhaps you caught this on CNN, but Denmark’s Jyllandsposten also has an interesting piece: Jackson’s glove hid skin disease. Yes, this word comes from noted Afro-American actress and FOJ (friend-of-Jacko) Cicely Tyson : “The glove was used to hide the vitiligo. That is why the glove saw the light of day. I was there when he [speaking of the glove’s fashion-designer, whose services Tyson shared with Jackson] designed it.”

And “vitiligo“? That’s the skin disease where you start to lose pigment, i.e. you start to turn white(r). Consistent with what we know about Jackson’s later ever-changing physiognomy, all that makes perfect sense.

Naturally, those single-gloves are now collectors items. The article tells of one used in a 1984 concert tour that sold at auction for 320,000 Danish kroner (although surely the auction was conducted in some other currency; that’s the equivalent today of $60,000/€43,000). If you’re really into this, you can even click here to watch a brief video of an auction-expert stating (in English) that such a glove would now likely attract that price again, or even more.

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News from Tehran

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

Fear not, all you thousands of EuroSavant fans, whether on Twitter, by RSS, or simply frequent direct visitors to the site! While I’m always on the look-out for news of quirky Euro-events that I can pass on to you (see, for example, immediately below), especially if they provide fertile breeding-ground for puns, I do also regularly treat the major news of the day when I can add to the discussion a new insight or perspective as gleaned from the European press.

As of this Sunday, the world’s burning news is of course the recent election in Iran, the apparent plot by the authorities in that country to steal it, and the people’s reaction thereto. Unfortunately, all of this is occurring so far over a weekend, which might be another dastardly trick by the current Tehran regime designed to limit take-up of the story by the regular European press, some parts of which do not work on Sunday at all (although there’s also word that the American MSM has been similarly slow off the starting-blocks). (more…)

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Aaaaaaaapril Foooooool!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

It has been a particular challenge going through the Danish press today: they seem especially gripped by (to coin a new term) “April-Fool-itis,” that is, celebrating this April 1 by planting remarkable “news” stories that turn out just to be a joke. Even if one is inclined to look favorably on the practice (e.g. as an amusing change-of-pace from the pedestrian nature of most news during the other 364 days of the year), Danish newspaper practice unfortunately waters it down substantially through the practice of frequently running the same articles from the Danish news-agency Ritzau in several of the papers at the same time. This naturally reduces substantially the amount of truly-original (as opposed to “echoed from Ritzau”) material. (Dutch papers also have this problem, i.e. of too many papers too often publishing the same article, by the way.)

Still, there are a handful of original joke-articles out there. But then the next problem arises, i.e. that the humor is too tied-in to the Danish cultural and/or political context to raise any laughs outside of the country. Anyway, let’s go looking for these jokes-articles and you can decide this for yourself. This exercise will also be valuable as a means to “innoculate” you against these tongue-in-cheek news-tales in case you later run across them within a context elsewhere that presents them to you as real. (more…)

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Boris Pasternak and the CIA

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

The Danish daily Morgenavis-Jyllandsposten (famous for those “Danish cartoons” a few years back) and its Moscow correspondent Niels Jürgensen have what looks like to be an exclusive concerning an interesting slice of Cold War history: CIA stood behind Pasternak’s Nobel Prize. That would be the Nobel Prize for Literature for the year 1958, awarded to the Russian author Boris Pasternak basically on the strength of his magnum opus, the novel Doctor Zhivago.

You’re probably more aware of this work in the form of the 1965 movie, starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. I never saw it myself (nor, alas, have read the book yet), but am given to understand that the film played up the lovey-dovey aspects of the tale so that the sharp criticisms it contained of the take-over of power in Russia by the Bolsheviks of 1917 and their rule since then were pushed somewhat to the margins. But it was just that criticism, from a native writer of note, that made the publication of Doctor Zhivago in the West, and especially its winning its author a Nobel Prize, such a propaganda coup against the Soviet Union back during those intense Cold War days. (more…)

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US Nuclear Weapon Abandoned in Greenland

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Don’t get too alarmed: it happened back in January, 1968, when a US B-52 bomber with four nuclear bombs on board crashed a few miles from an airbase near Thule, Greenland – then, as now, a self-governing province of Denmark. The first real problem was that there weren’t supposed to be nuclear weapons there in the first place, as the Danish had only approved the base for use in monitoring for a possible Soviet ICBM attack on the US over the North Pole, not as having anything to do with nuclear weapons themselves. And secondly, only three of those bombs were recovered from the crash site, but US authorities kept quiet about that, instead maintaining that all the weapons had been destroyed in the crash. In reality, three months later they sent a submarine to the area to look some more for the weapon, but with instructions for the officers in charge to lie about their mission to the Danish authorities, stating instead that they were there simply to survey the sea-bottom. (more…)

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Whom Can the Intellectuals Hate after Bush?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

In Denmark, as really most elsewhere in the world, the media are keeping close tabs on the US presidential election – passing on the polling numbers to their audiences, looking for that special insight that might provide a clue about what is likely to happen on Election Day. Of a piece with this is the latest US election coverage from Viggo Lepoutre Ravn of Denmark’s Jyllandsposten (A former Bush-advisor: We have lost). That former advisor is David Frum, actually a former presidential speech-writer, whose comments from an appearance on CNN are quoted to the effect (because this is a translation from the Danish back into English) of “We have to look it in the eye, that we [presumably meaning the Republicans] cannot win the presidential election. We have to concentrate on saving as many of our Senators as possible.” Accompanying this account in Ravn’s article is the news that Obama has now gone ten percentage points clear of McCain in the latest Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll, plus some electoral strategy analysis. (McCain’s only hope is somehow to win one large-population state that it now seems he will lose, etc., etc. – but we don’t need to occupy ourselves with that stuff, since either Ravn assuredly doesn’t know what he’s talking about or you and I have already read such an analysis, in English, somewhere else.)

No, it’s Jyllandsposten’s Niels Lillelund who gets into a more in-depth discussion of American electoral matters in an accompanying article entitled Farwell to Bush – whom will the intellectuals hate now?. (more…)

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Palin by Comparison

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

John McCain has made his choice – and a surprising one it was, too, namely Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his vice-presidential nominee. As observers and interested parties made their way to Dayton, OH yesterday to witness her official presentation as Republican running-mate, even the most-experienced journalists were scrambling to find background material on someone who previously had been a peripheral candidate, at best, to join McCain on the ticket.

If those American journalists had that problem catching up with information on Palin, you can guess the problem was even more acute for the foreign press. Still, European coverage has risen to the challenge with an assortment of treatments of the Alaska governor’s naming – even if I nowhere saw any mention of the budding Alaska state trooper firing scandal that could bring some heavy rain on her parade later on. Anyway, let’s go check that coverage out – starting this time in Poland. (more…)

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Top Pharma

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Congratulations to Carlos Sastre, who yesterday won the 95th Tour de France, but let’s also issue a shout-out to his doctors, who managed the difficult feat of doping him up over a grueling 23-day tour well enough so that he could win the thing, but not too well, so that anything untoward would show up on any test (but was any sort of sample ever taken from Sastre? – the article does not say) and/or any particular day’s achievement would appear so out-of-the-ordinary as to raise the usual suspicions.

Still, if you look at that article (it’s the coverage from the NYT, which I am wont to link to when it’s just a matter of giving you a source for the simple facts, ma’am, about some event that has happened; it seems like English is the best language to go with in that situation), there is mention of a “surprisingly strong ride in the final time trial.” Hmm – “surprisingly strong,” and the article also notes that Sastre knew very well that it was specifically the time trials that he would have to do better in during the Tour, in order to finally win the thing after coming up short so many times before. Floyd Landis, you might recall, also had a “surprisingly strong” stage two years ago when it looked like he was falling behind and would lose his overall Tour lead; that was when he flunked the doping test he was administered immediately after. I ask again: was Sastre tested after that “surprisingly strong” time trial stage? (more…)

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Berlin Reactions to Obama’s Pending Visit

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Some EuroSavant entries virtually write themselves. What’s the hottest thing going on now on the American scene – or, put another way, where can you find all of America’s top TV anchor-persons?

Super Star!

Super Star!

Traveling with Obama, of course! And while the itinerary to the first part of his overseas trip – to the Middle East and South Asia – is somewhat unclear, deliberately for security reasons, we can be more sure about where he is going to be in Europe during the second half, and when. Everyone knows already that the high point – the only public address he is scheduled to give – will occur in Berlin next Thursday evening, 24 July. There’s already been somewhat of a controversy over where he is to be allowed to give that speech. That has now been resolved, but let’s take a look at what further details are available from local Berlin sources. (more…)

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The Tour and “Second Generation” Epo

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Some things in life are entirely predictable. The sun comes up in the morning to the East; bears carry out their excretive functions in the woods; the Pope admits to being a practicing Catholic; and, one after the other, riders in the Tour de France are caught and banned from the race for doping offenses. The latest two-wheeled transgressor, Riccardo Ricco – not to be confused with Cuban band leader and husband-of-redhead Ricky Ricardo – had actually already won two of the Tour’s stages; his ejection from the competition led his entire team, Saunier Duval-Scott, to voluntary withdraw from the Tour as well. (Oh, and I’m reminded of yet another entirely predictable thing by the line in that New York Times article linked to above that reads “On Sunday, after Ricco’s second stage victory, he angrily denied allegations that he had suspect blood levels or that there was any reason for him to be targeted by French antidoping officials.”) (more…)

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“Accept No Substitutions!”: Danish Version

Sunday, June 13th, 2004

The Danish press is also wise to George W. Bush’s attempts to have himself labeled a latter-day Ronald Reagan. (This is something discussed first with respect to the Dutch/Flemish press in my previous €S entry; I’m making this entry separate to preserve this site’s “Category” integrity.) A good example of this comes from Klaus Justsen, US correspondent for the mainstream daily Jyllands-Posten (Bush Suns Himself in Reagan’s Light). (more…)

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First Dutch Casualty in Iraq

Tuesday, May 11th, 2004

It has finally happened, but you knew it was only a matter of time: the first Dutch soldier has fallen in Iraq, just yesterday (Monday). And the timing was significant, if only as a reflection of the breakdown of what public order there was in much of that country over the past few weeks. It might be even more significant when you consider that a decision is coming due as to whether to extend the deployment of Dutch troops in Iraq after the 17 July end of their current mandate there. Doubts about doing that were starting to surface in the Dutch legislature, even before this latest, fatal incident. (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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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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Violence in Iraq: Foreign or Home-Brewed?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2003

Jyllands-Posten, the Danish daily, has sent its own correspondent (by the name of Thomas Heine) to check things out in Iraq. Being on-the-scene has put him in a position to uncover some interesting discrepancies, as he reports in Iraq’s Disguised Foreign Legion. (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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