Munch’s “The Scream” Stolen

Sunday, August 22nd, 2004

Danish newspapers (take for example Politiken) are reporting on-line today that there was a robbery by several armed men of the Edvard Munch museum in Oslo. (None of the accounts state when this happened.) Among the paintings stolen was Munch’s world-famous work “The Scream.”

I’ll let other commentators, once they come on-line with this themselves, expand upon the truism that that particular painting provides an unparalleled representation of the modern condition, especially in these terrorist-filled times. What I’d just like to know now is how these criminals think they will be able to earn any money from their theft by selling such a famous work. Maybe to a “Dr. No”-type unscrupulous millionaire for his private collection? Or perhaps they simply intend to hold it for a ransom from the Norwegian (or European, or the world’s) people?

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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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Is There Such Thing as a Free Train?

Sunday, July 11th, 2004

This may be counter-intuitive, but did you realize that instituting limited periods during which all passengers can ride on a train system for free is a measure that can actually pay for itself, and even turn a profit, from the increased numbers of paying passengers who will be attracted to ride the trains during the free period and beyond?

At least there is the strong suggestion that this is true in Denmark. In January train travel was made free for trains running in the region of Svendborg, located on the south part of the big Danish island of Fyn – the one lying between the Jutland mainland to the west and the island of Sjaelland (where Copenhagen is located) to the east. A subsequent study undertaken together by the Danish traffic ministry and the Danish State Railways (DSB) – and reported at length by journalist Rasmus Lindboe in the Danish opinion newspaper Information (Analysis: The State Can Make a Profit on Free Trains) – shows that ridership increased by 25% as a result of this initiative, even after January was over. What’s more, one third of the 150,000 new riders attracted to the trains would have ordinarily gotten where they needed to go using their cars. The DSB gained back the money it originally lost by not charging fares within three months from the resulting increased ridership. (more…)

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Europa XL Now Also in Dutch!

Monday, June 14th, 2004

My review of and commentary upon the cultural portraits of the EU member-states presented in the Europa XL series by the Danish newspaper Politiken is an on-going feature of this site, and you see over on the left-side of the homepage that links to the individual portraits, by country, are gathered together there for readers’ convenience. Today I discovered that the same series is also being presented by the Dutch newspaper Trouw. Yes, now these selections of each country’s typical painting, photograph, person, food-dish, etc. are available in the form of Danish and Dutch versions of the same explanatory texts (but the copyright is held by Politiken).

Maybe that’s not so much of a big deal for those of you who don’t read either Danish or Dutch, but it could be interesting for those Dutch-speakers out there, to enjoy the unalloyed texts themselves and check up on what I write all the more closely! Also, now I get the choice of practicing one of those two languages or the other when I want to cover the next cultural portrait – or maybe both, to cross-check. By the way, I also noticed that the portrait of the Czech Republic has now been added to the series, as chosen by Czech writer Ivan Klima. An excellent choice! I’m sure to cover this one very soon.

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Austria Put on the Couch

Thursday, June 10th, 2004

Today: How is Austria different from Germany, anyway? Our guide, via the Danish newspaper Politiken, is Marlene Streeruwitz, once again a prize-winning author (novels, plays, radio-plays) and translator, whose works we are told focus upon “the terror of every-day life, nearly-unbearable normality, and the laid-waste relation between the sexes.” We get an initial clue about her homeland from the review of one of her radio-dramas that was broadcast a couple years ago on Danish Radio, which judged Frau Streeruwitz’ anger as “typically Austrian, that is, substantial and implacable.” Indeed, take a look at Frau Streeruwitz’ portrait, if you please. That’s only a half-smile you see there, at best; indeed, I’d also call her look “substantial and implacable.” (I bet she’s divorced.) But to proceed . . . (more…)

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Germany Considered

Sunday, June 6th, 2004

The anniversary of the D-Day landings as a pretext to take up the Danish newspaper Politiken’s cultural survey of Germany? Especially given that D-Day has never been that big a deal to the German people – just another bloody WWII defeat? Oh, why not – this was after all the first year that the German Bundeskanzler agreed to be present at the commemorative ceremonies, and that supposedly reflects new attitudes among the German people that the D-Day landings actually represented the beginning of the long process of their liberation. So an examination of the German mentality through the ages is warranted. Besides, I’ve been itching to cover the German cultural portrait for some time now. Ultimately, you can just forget about the EU’s other pissant small-fry – Luxembourg, say (Charly Gaul, indeed!), or even Denmark: Germany is the true European colossus, for which there should be a cornucopia of cultural artifacts to choose among (persons; music/song; poems; events!) that should even exceed France’s. One can only hope that the German writer chosen is up to the job. (more…)

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Bella Italia!

Thursday, June 3rd, 2004

This was not a particularly dense news day, meaning I find little interesting out there to choose from and to report on. But at least Dutch readers can catch up with the latest developments in both the Chalabi and the Valerie Plame cases in this comprehensive summary article by the NRC Handelsblad’s US correspondent Marc Chavannes. (For those needing help, Valerie Plame is the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was revealed last July in a newspaper column by Robert Novak to be an undercover CIA agent. That’s against the law; Novak said his information came from administration officials. Probably not-so-coincidentally, Ambassador Wilson had embarrassed the Bush administration by pointing out that allegations that Saddam Hussein had tried to obtain uranium from Niger – an alleged event he had personally investigated – were false.) Chavannes even has the awareness to cite, from an analysis in Kevin Drum’s “Washington Monthly” weblog, the blatant illogic in President Bush’s recent statements about Ahmed Chalabi – i.e. that he didn’t have much to do with him, he was merely Laura Bush’s guest at the last State of the Union address – in light of the President’s earlier statement on Meet the Press that he had met with Chalabi in the Oval Office.

So much for this, that. Where’s the beef? Hey, we always have the option of taking up another country from Politikens’s “Europa XL” series of cultural portraits. Let’s go for Italy this time, analyzed by writer Stefano Benni; he does quite a good job indeed. (more…)

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Luxembourg: Land of the Grand Duke

Sunday, May 30th, 2004

Yes! Finally! The country-treatment (within the “Europa XL” series of cultural portraits of EU member-states commissioned by the Danish newspaper Politiken, etc., etc.) you’ve all been waiting for: Luxembourg!

Well, it’s at least the portrait I’ve been looking forward to doing. Check it out: The Luxembourgois poet Jean Portante actually lists as his choice for “Object” the local language, Lëtzebuergesch. A very good choice, as you’ll see if you care to read on further, although apparently everyone there (or who is really from there at least) speaks French and German as well.

I’ve also noticed that Politiken recently added Malta to their Europa XL master-index page. I might give that one a pass, unless I get any fervent reader requests to the contrary. I do know a very attractive, vivacious Maltese living here in Amsterdam (I don’t think she reads €S, though), but Roberta B. on her own ordinarily would hardly be enough of a justification to inflict a 10-point cultural review of Malta on you, or for that matter on myself. I would, however, like to inflict Roberta on myself (not you.) On the other hand, I don’t in fact know anyone from Luxembourg, and so that should convince you of my incorruptible and highly-objective standards when it comes to choosing material to cover on these pages.

Back to the grand duchy, then: our resident expert on Luxembourg is the poet Jean Portante, son of Italian immigrants to that country. (more…)

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The Glory That Is France

Friday, May 28th, 2004

Back now today to the cultural survey series of the EU member-states published serially in the Danish newspaper Politiken. As you would expect, by now they’ve started to treat some of the ten new member-states – I see Slovenia and Cyprus on the list already. So we can ultimately expect a total of twenty-five such portraits, as the Politiken editors finish rounding up the cultural figures from each country to give their selections of representative paintings, photographs, persons, etc.

Goodness, which to choose? Luxembourg is available! – a cultural portrait assembled by one Jean Portante, a Luxembourgeois poet. Yes, we’ll definitely cover that one, eventually. There’s also Ireland, which should be interesting; Germany – but that one is sure to be so heavy that I think I’ll cover it around the 6 June D-Day celebrations; and Austria: just how is it different from Germany, anyway? And Italy.

I’ll play it safe this time and go for France and its representative cultural selection chosen by Jean d’Ormesson – or to give a more precise name, Jean Lefévre, comte d’Ormesson. (The Politiken editor notes that his full name is twice as long as that.) He is a director at the conservative French newspaper Le Figaro, and at the same time a prominent fiction-writer, especially of historical fiction – particularly, it seems, of tales of the decline and fall of aristocratic families. We’ll find that his cultural choices range from the predictable to the surprising – and to the surprising chosen so as to avoid the predictable. (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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Portugal Examined

Wednesday, April 14th, 2004

Time to go back to that “Europa XL” series from the Danish newspaper Politiken, now that I’ve rediscovered it on the re-designed Politiken website. For those who came in late, that’s the series-of-photo-series in which the culture of each of the current European Union member-states is depicted via choices in a fixed set of categories (“Painting,” “Photograph,” etc.) made by a leading current literary figure from that country.

(Note that, while the good news is that I now know again where this “Europa XL” series is to be found on the Net, it’s also true that they’ve modified its format so that it’s only viewable in Internet Explorer, not in the Opera or Mozilla browsers.) Later update: That’s no longer true, the pages render fine in Opera.

Now we get into terra incognita, since today I’d like to discuss the presentation on Portugal, as chosen by writer Agustina Bessa-Luis, “a living myth among the Portuguese,” best known for her 1954 novel “The Sybille,” which has also been translated into French and German. (No mention of English or even Danish.) This is a country whose language I don’t even know per se, which I instead try to approach, when I need to, via similarities with Spanish. (more…)

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A Whiff of Terror

Monday, March 29th, 2004

“You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

So run the famous lines of Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (played by Robert Duvall) in the 1979 movie “Apocalypse Now,” recently voted “the best speech in cinema history” in a movie fan poll, according to a report by BBC News. But now napalm has a competitor in the “War: what scents does it make?” department. Adam Hannestad, Cairo correspondent of the leading Danish daily Politiken reports on a new best-seller at Pakistani perfume-counters, “Usama Bin Laden Cologne Spray.” (more…)

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Sweden by Marklund

Saturday, March 13th, 2004

Time now to procede to the next entry in the on-going “Europa XL” series in the Danish newspaper Politiken of cultural portraits of EU member-states, this time to Denmark’s sister-state, Sweden. The writer who was asked to contribute her suggestions for that country’s representative painting, photograph, person, etc. is Liza Marklund – journalist, editor, and author of what Politiken terms “a series of extraordinarily popular contemporary novels in the crime genre,” who came into her own as a commentator on Swedish society last fall, with the murder of Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh.

I’ve looked forward to this one, as I’m very interested in Sweden but know relatively little about that country. I do consider it as rather unique within the EU: not one of Europe’s “big powers,” but rather one of what is only a handful of “medium-sized powers” (the others being Spain and Poland). And while on the one hand Sweden’s internationalism, environmental awareness, and other things as well make it a natural candidate for the EU, on the other Sweden is also one of those countries that has been allowed to opt-out of adopting the euro as its currency and, as last September’s referendum shows, is far away from ever changing its mind. (more…)

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An Even-Handed Approach to Describing Belgium

Saturday, March 6th, 2004

Time to consider the portrait of Belgium presented in the Danish newspaper Politiken’s “Europa XL” series of cultural treatments of EU member nations, as submitted by respected literary figures of each such nation. The writer in charge for Belgium is the Belgian fiction-writer and translator Paul Claes – or rather, the Flemish fiction-writer and translator, i.e. one who writes in and translates into Dutch and so not into the French language spoken by around half of his countrymen, mostly in the south of the country. And I’m afraid that we start off on the wrong foot in our quest for impartiality and an even-handed cultural treatment, since Claes’ last-name is truly an ultra-Dutch one (in the sense of the language’s history). That “ae” vowel combination lying at that name’s heart, which merely signals the “long a” sound, is a relic from old Dutch spelling, used much more these days for Belgian names (both of people and places) than Dutch ones.

OK, off we go, but clearly we’ll inevitably have a different perspective than we have had for most of these portraits, namely what you could call the “Flemish-vs-Walloon scorecarding” view: (more…)

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The Netherlands in the Show-Window

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2004

Next up in the Danish newspaper Politiken’s “Europa XL” series of cultural portraits of EU member-states: my favorite! It’s “Holland,” as they term it on the Politiken site, with representative Dutch cultural objects and phenomena (photo, person, event, etc.) chosen by the renowned novelist and travel-book author Cees Nooteboom. (more…)

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One British Woman’s View of Britain

Friday, February 27th, 2004

Here we go, as promised: the entry in the Danish newspaper Politiken’s series of cultural profiles on EU member countries on the United Kingdom, with the supposedly characteristic British poem, place, person, event, etc. chosen by fiction-author (and Booker Prize winner) A.S. Byatt. Be forewarned: She has taken off with her author’s license to make any choice she wants, to make some that truly have more to do with A.S. Byatt than the British. (more…)

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Europa XL: A Cultural Portrait of Denmark

Wednesday, February 25th, 2004

Yes, I haven’t been around for a while. The reason is that I’ve been busy setting up my other weblog, SegwayEuroTour, a process which I confess is as yet still incomplete. Still, the writings over there is rather different from what you’re accustomed to finding here on EuroSavant, so I can make at least a theoretical case that I should be able to pursue both simultaneously. I’ve just had a brand new Segway HT (a p-Series, for those of you in-the-know) shipped over here to me in the Netherlands, you see, where such things are as scarce as hen’s teeth. I’ve already had great fun taking her (her name’s “Marleen,” by the way) out in public, and so far that has just been to take around to show to acquaintances! There are surely many more adventures to come, and they will be chronicled over at that other site.

In the meantime – just to be further selfish about things, but I guess this website here is also basically about me – I have some paid work translating from Danish into English, so I have this renewed interest in the Danish press. It’s lucky that I do, for an Internet-journey over there alerts me to a very interesting series currently going on in the webpages of the main Danish daily Politiken, called Europa XL. (What does that “XL” mean? I can’t quite tell: I suppose it could be Roman numerals for “40” – but that doesn’t seem to make any sense – or it could mean “extra large.”)

“We know the EU as a big bureaucratic system. Nations without any face, without body,” begins that introductory article. The point of this series is to do something about that for Politiken’s readers, to provide precisely that face to each of the EU’s fifteen current members (in articles appearing up to the big May 1, 2004, expansion date) and then to the ten new members (in articles after that). “How do these different lands see themselves? What are their special values? And how can each enrich a common European culture?” – Politiken intends to approach one “characteristic voice” from each country – generally a prominent cultural figure of that land – to provide the following concerning their respective country (with their commentary, of course): a painting, a photograph, a person, an object, a text, a piece of music or song, a poem, a food-dish, a place, and an event. (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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Latest “Matrix” Disappoints

Monday, November 3rd, 2003

Sorry: Today we’re headed for the lighter side. Or maybe I just want to show the broad intellectual and cultural scope of which this site is capable, to include film reviews.

The third and final entry in the “Matrix” triology, “The Matrix Revolutions,” opens world-wide on Wednesday (5 November), but reviewers from Variety and Reuters have already been able to see it, according to this article in the Danish daily Politiken (“Hard Handling of Matrix”). Their message? Don’t get your hopes up. (more…)

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Danish Afterword on Madrid Conference

Monday, October 27th, 2003

In the end, last Thursday’s and Friday’s Madrid Iraqi Donors’ Conference seems to have turned out better than expected. The coverage in Denmark’s Politiken (Japan Gives Iraq $5 Billion) gives a final verdict that is middle-of-the-road: yes, donor countries “reached deeper into their pockets than had seemed would be the case even hours before the conference closed.” (As the headline recounts, Japan upped its contribution during the course of the conference, ultimately offering a soft loan of $3.5 billion, and an outright grant of $1.5 billion.) On the other hand, Politiken still calls the results disappointing for the Americans, who had hoped to call forth much more money than the result of $18 billion to add to the ca. $20 billion that the US Congress approved (half of it a loan). On yet another hand, the article points out, for a long time there were doubts whether there would even be enough support to hold the conference in the first place.

Overall, the world’s press has plenty in the results of the Madrid Conference to see either a glass half-full or half-empty, according to the given newspaper’s (and/or its journalist’s) inclination or political stance. It’s rather more refreshing to come across a piece of commentary on these happenings which is willing to put them into a wider context, even if it turns out to be a very anti-Coalition one. This is what we have in the article in the Danish commentary newspaper Information entitled A New Iraq. (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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The Unabridged George W. Bush, Romantic Poet

Tuesday, October 14th, 2003

Since my first revelation of his wordcraft, taken here from the Danish Politiken, there may be some of you out there who just can’t get enough of that literary artist whose day-job just happens to be the presidency of the United States, one George W. Bush. (Others, on the other hand, would advise him not to give up that day-job. Still more, however, are already working hard to make sure that he does just that in January, 2005.) Well, it seems that the Truth is a difficult thing to get whole, although widespread reading in numerous languages might help you get closer to it. That poem to Laura printed in Politiken was barely the half of it; now I’ve discovered this article in the Czech newspaper Lidové noviny that gives a fuller version (although who knows whether this is finally the complete one). Yes, I’ll reproduce it for you here (it’s only cyber-space – and a miniscule portion of my allowed storage-space on the host server – that I’m expending):

Dear Laura
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Oh my lump in the bed,
How I’ve missed you.
Roses are redder,
Bluer am I,
Seeing you kissed by that charming French guy.
The dogs and the cat, they missed you too,
Barney’s still mad you dropped him,
He ate your shoe.
The distance, my dear, has been such a barrier,
Next time you want an adventure,
just land on a carrier.

For those of you into careful comparison of such works of literature in parallel texts of two different languages, Lidové noviny also provides a Czech translation. And yes, the Czech paper also mentions the connection to Bush’s flight onto that carrier last May, and his declaration there of the end of major combat operations in Iraq. It also mentions that Mrs. Bush recited this poem at the Library of Congress book festival in the presence of her husband.

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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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George W. Bush: Poet(aster)

Sunday, October 5th, 2003

I first found word about this while scanning the on-line edition of Denmark’s main Politiken newspaper. It seems that the American President missed his wife Laura rather badly while she was away this past week, visiting Paris and Moscow. So he wrote her a poem – and fear not, my friends, for it goes without saying that he wrote it not in Danish but in English, which is how it is reproduced in Politiken:

Dear Laura
Roses are red, violets are blue
oh my lump in the bed, I miss you
The distance, my dear, has been such a barrier,
next time you want adventure, just land on a carrier.

Two things about this:

1) At my first take, I was surprised on how little this has been reported in the press. From Politiken I resorted to Google’s news search engine, which told me that only one news-site in India and two in Australia have yet picked up this story;
2) Then again, maybe it didn’t need to be picked up. The quality of the verse won’t make too many of the Nobel judges regret that they were so fast in awarding the Literature Prize for this year to the South African writer J.M. Coetzee. And maybe intimate communication of this sort between a man and his wife should just be left alone. Except that Laura Bush herself brought it up, according to the Politiken article, at her appearance at a literature festival this past weekend at the Library of Congress.

Of course, the Danish newspaper can’t resist expanding on the “land on a carrier” reference: the President himself, as we all know, landed on a carrier last May 1 to announce that the War against Iraq was over. Since then “at least 85 American soldiers,” says Politiken, have been killed in combat in Iraq. At least the Danes are giving the President a break with their numbers; I’m pretty sure that that total by now is well above 85.

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McDonalds Runs Riot in Copenhagen

Thursday, September 25th, 2003

I first heard about this on the BBC World Service last Tuesday. And, sure enough, at least the main Danish daily Politiken has a report on it:Copenhagen Accuses McDonalds of Pillage. (Hærværk in Danish = “pillage,” “plunder,” “rapine”? It literally means “army-work.” Any Dane out there who can give me the best translation?) This despite the fact that lately the Danish press has been inundated across-the-board (except for the business paper Børsen, naturally) by coverage of the just-announced engagement of Prince Frederik of Denmark (age 35) to a certain Mary Donaldson (age 31) of Australia – definitely outside of the EuroSavant remit! Call me in when they start to cheat on each other and/or engage in fatal auto accidents.

What, you ask (if you didn’t catch it on the BBC on Tuesday), did McDonalds do to earn accusations of hærværk? (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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