Germans’ English Estrangement

Monday, February 1st, 2010

As of a couple months ago there has been a new German government in power – CDU/CSU in coalition with the liberal-economic FDP, rather than in a “grand coalition” with the SPD socialist party. Those circumstances happened to give rise to a new running concern (or running gag – take your choice) about the very tenuous relationship some of Germany’s top politicians have with the English language. Chancellor Angela Merkel herself by all accounts acquits herself quite well in English – and in Russian, too, they say, but then again she was an academic researcher before she got into politics (and she delivered a small part of her address before a joint session of the US Congress last year in English). On the other hand, her top partner in the new coalition, namely Guido Westerwelle who heads the FDP, tried in a half-hearted way to speak some English in his first appearances after the new government was formed, only to become widely mocked for how bad that was going and to finally decide “the hell with it!” (or rather, I would imagine, something like Schluß damit!) and just going with German, to include insisting that questions asked of him during press conferences be phrased only in German. (I’m sorry to have to remind you here, if you didn’t know it already, that Westerwelle’s formal position in the new German government is as Foreign Minister!)

Now it’s time for a new European Commission, which will be sworn in next week and in which the German representative naturally always gets an important portfolio. This time that is to be Günther Oettinger, President of the state of Baden-Württemberg and now Commissioner-designate of the EU’s Energy Directorate (not so important in the past, as it was held by a Lithuanian for the last five years; but clearly to be of major importance henceforth). And yes, Oettinger has a problem with English, a big problem. (But what can you really expect from someone with, in effect, two umlauts in his name, including the “Oe”?) Apparently he is only barely able to pronounce in public the English words on a paper before him that his staff have written for him to say. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Guido Westerwelle: Small-Minded?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

By now you’ve heard about the election results from last Sunday in Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU gained seats while her “Grand Coalition” partner the SPD lost them, but the significant new development was that the right-wing, business-friendly party the FDP itself also gained enough seats in the Bundestag to make possible a rupture of that “Grand Coalition” in favor of a right-of-center CDU/CSU-FDP coalition government. Traditionally the head of the junior party in a German governing coalition is given the Foreign Minister’s portfolio; in this case that is FDP head Guido Westerwelle.

We’ve been hearing quite a lot about Westerwelle in the press – and that’s even before he and Merkel have formally entered into negotiations as to how they will form their coalition government, which just goes to show what a foregone and “traditional” conclusion it is that he will become Foreign Minister. He’s a J.D. (Juris Doctor, i.e. “doctor of laws” or lawyer), and he’s openly gay. Remarkably, the German electorate seems not particularly bothered by either fact.

Already a minor flap has arisen in his connection, though. You can see it on video here: at his first post-election press conference he refused to take a question in English which a correspondent from the BBC wished to pose to him. So it’s apparent that he doesn’t feel very comfortable with his English. You might find that a rather unfortunate quality in a foreign minister – and you would likely be right. But Mariam Lau of Die Welt believes it reveals something rather deeper: The smallness-of-spirit of Foreign Minister Westerwelle. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Baring Their Electoral Assets

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

busenAs we’ve mentioned before in this space, but in other contexts, there is a German general election due on Sunday, 27 September. To mention yet another context: that happens to be the middle-Sunday of the two weeks of Oktoberfest, so perhaps we can expect reduced electoral turnout among Munich polling-places and/or increased incidents of voting-while-drunk.

Berlin, on the other hand, is already having to deal with a new (yet also very, very old) method of trying to provoke a cleft within the body politic, as you can see from the above illustration, and as Die Tageszeitung columnist Ines Kappert – that’s a woman’s name – complains about in a brief essay entitled Aha, Titten (which I won’t translate for you from the German; I think you can get the sense on your own). Vera Lengsfeld is the lady with the green necklace, which stands in stark contrast to her more-natural adornments, on the right side of this electoral poster from Germany’s CDU, or Christlich Demokratische Union, also the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is the similarly-adorned lady to the left. Lengsfeld posed explicitly for this poster, while Merkel’s picture comes from her appearance last year at the ceremony for the inauguration of the new Oslo (NO) opera house, where her choice of apparel excited considerable comment in the German media. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Further Iran Opinions and Fantasies

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

So now Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has made his long-awaited speech, on Friday, making it clear that any further street demonstrations would draw a ruthless crackdown by the security forces. And those further demonstrations, which nonetheless took place over the weekend, have duly resulted in pitched street-battles, with many among the protestors (and innocent by-standers) killed and wounded. What happens next?

Andreas Relster, writer for the Danish opinion newspaper Information, certainly has no idea. Still, at least he has that forum in which to raise the subject, and can resort to a strategy of canvassing the opinions of every Iran-expert out there whom he can get to respond to his inquiries. This is essentially the method behind his current piece, Iranian mirage. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Germany’s Dr. Doom Speaks!

Monday, April 27th, 2009

I hate to be a “downer” here at EuroSavant, but nonetheless feel an obligation (as explained below) to bring up recent alarming pronouncements about Germany’s immediate future made by a prominent economics professor there, Dr. Max Otte (full last name: “Otte van Ullstein”) of the University of Worms. The main coverage I found in Die Welt (Crash-guru demands vacation-ban for Germans, no by-line), although that article references and orients itself around a brief interview Prof. Otte recently gave to Berliner Kurier (The crash-professor prophesies: the crisis will hit us this hard), a Berlin-based tabloid. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

News Flash: Osama bin Laden Innocent of 9-11!

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

That’s at least according to “Devil’s Advocate” (Advocaat van de Duivel), a television program on the Dutch state network Nederland 2, on which every week “lawyer Gerard Spong defends a prominent personality about whom public opinion has an outspoken position,” according to its description on Nederland 2. We’re informed of this vital and earth-shaking development, not from a Dutch newspaper, but from journalists across the border writing for the German daily Die Welt (TV court declares Osaba bin Laden innocent; I tried but could not find any report on this in the on-line Dutch press).

Yes, this program is a sort of “people’s court” in which Spong – in his day-job a prominent Amsterdam defense attorney who charges up to €450 an hour – defends the notorious before a “citizen’s jury” and a larger studio audience, who are each then polled to see what effect his arguments have had on them. (Check it out: you can watch the entire latest program from this webpage, just click on the bekijk uitzending link, but of course it’s in Dutch with no sub-titles.) And in this particular episode that “citizen’s jury” ruled as “unproven” both the propositions that Bin Laden was the planner/director of the September 11 attacks and even that he was the founder/leader of al-Qaeda. Instead, both the jury and the studio audience ruled that those attacks on New York and Washington were most likely “a fiction propounded by Western politicians.” Still, Spong did try to push things a bit too far – maybe that’s just the professional instinct of any good defense lawyer – by also advancing the proposition that Bin Laden was a mere “freedom-fighter at war against the West”; the jury concluded instead that he is indeed “a terrorist who misuses Islam for personal ambitions to power.”

That Die Welt article holds tightly to the prescribed journalistic objectivity, simply passing on to readers the fact that this TV program occurred and the details as to what the “citizen’s jury” decided, without any additional editorial comment. In that same vox populi, vox dei spirit, it also displays in a prominent spot at its head a simple Yes/No on-line poll question: “Is al-Qaeda still a danger for the West?”

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Mega-Number Confusion

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

. . . and now back to our regularly-scheduled coverage of depressing news from the current economic crisis. The latest development is the Congressional Budget Office’s report, released yesterday, maintaining that the US Government actually faces budget deficits and total indebtedness amounting to even higher unbelievably-large numbers than the unbelievably-large numbers presented under President Obama’s budget proposals.

The respected German daily Die Welt promptly picked up on this news to come out with its own article: Congress expects highest deficit of all time. What we should look at first here is the German word for “deficit” itself, used in that headline: Fehlbetrag, derived from the verb fehlen, “to err, sin, blunder” – so a “blunder-amount,” if you will. That pretty much sets the tone, right there; even before the reader’s eye gets to the inserted photo of an earnest President Obama – i.e. while it is still reading the lede – it gets assaulted not only by enormous numbers ($1.8 trillion/€1.3 trillion deficit for 2009, $9.3 trillion debt by 2019) but also by the accompanying loaded descriptions (“record total,” “without precedent,” “a debt-mountain”). Then the remainder of the relatively short piece fills in the remaining horrific details, like that such deficits would amount to over 4% of US GDP – “a value that experts term untenable.” US Budget Director Peter Orszag is quoted as conceding that a 5% deficit (getting close!) would truly be unbearable, even as he also maintains that the CBO’s estimates are unduly more pessimistic than the administration’s proposals. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Germany Most Beloved!

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Here’s another entry in the series we seem to have fallen into lately of “Countries Tooting Their Own Horns.” We already have learned, from the Danish, that the Danish economy can be a “supermodel” for the rest of the world, and (from the Belgians) that Belgium is the most-globalized country. Now, as a current article in Die Welt puts it, Germany is the most-beloved state in the world!

Ah yes, we know – those cuddly Germans! But wait: looking beyond the headline, what this is really all about is a worldwide poll, undertaken yearly for the BBC World Service by the firm GlobeScan, asking respondents to react to a list of fifteen prominent countries by stating whether, in each case, they feel that country has a positive or a negative influence on world affairs. This year, for the first time, Germany was tops, with 61% positive and only 15% negative. Canada was second (57/14), the UK was third (58/19).

(OK, the UK was third even with a slightly-higher positive rating than Canada; obviously GlobeScan uses some ranking formula that combines the two inputs. The good thing about this poll is that the sample was a rather-large 13,575 people, from among 21 countries. The bad thing is that I can’t find any mention of it on the BBC World Service website or any affiliated BBC webpages.)

And the losers? In tenth place was China, at 39/40 – yes, despite those marvelous Summer Olympics. In eleventh place came the USA, with 43% evaluating its influence on world affairs as negative (40% positive). Keep in mind that this poll was conducted after Barack Obama was elected president last November 4 – but at least that negative rating for the Americans is down from the 48% that it was in last year’s poll. Then Russia at twelfth place (30/42). Israel is at fourteenth place (21/51), but at least the Jewish state beats out Pakistan (17/53).

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Economic Policy Chaos in the German Government

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Presidential or Parliamentary? The question of which system makes for a more effective and truly representative government has engaged political scientists for many years, but make no mistake: it also has some serious real-world consequences. Right now, with the Bush administration headed towards the history books stained by torture, illegal wiretapping, Katrina, Iraq, financial collapse, a corrupt Dept. of Justice, etc., etc., the presidential model is most assuredly under some disfavor. (Oh, and the presidential system also results in excruciatingly-long lame-duck periods waiting for the new chief executive to take power that are really inconsistent with the speed of events in the modern day. See this recent New York Times article for a solution to that that was contemplated in the past, but which Bush has nowhere near the intelligence nor love-of-country to implement now.) But a recent article in the authoritative German daily Die Welt by Jan Dams (Financial crisis: Glos provokes Merkel and Steinbrück) reminds us of many of the defects of the parliamentary system, especially during economically perilous times. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Michael Jackson: Man? Person?

Monday, September 27th, 2004

It’s a common trait of the scientific community for researchers to commune to pool their brains while investigating perplexing phenomena that no one quite yet has been able to get a handle on understanding. AIDS. The possibility of extra-terrestrial life. And, yes, the mystery that is Michael Jackson: Josef Engels brings us word today in Die Welt of the conference that took place over this past weekend in New Haven, CT, whose subject was none other than the King of Pop. (He is a Person.) (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Beslan: Violence the Only Way Out

Monday, September 6th, 2004

The bloodshed that finally ended the two-day stand-off at Middle School #1 in Beslan, North Ossetia was reportedly started by accident: security forces’ reaction to shots being fired at hostages trying to escape and/or some explosives set by the terrorists going off accidentally. It should go without saying that that bloody conclusion to the crisis, which has claimed 335 lives and counting, was not supposed to happen. After all, the Russian authorities had made it plain that the safety of the hundreds of hostages being held captive on the school grounds had “absolute priority.”

Don’t believe it. Even if things came to the particular conclusion they did unintentionally – and even in view of the 25 people the authorities had persuaded the attackers to release unharmed the day before – a violent end to the drama was ultimately inevitable. Journalist Manfred Quiring makes this point well in his recent analysis for Die Welt (“Let It Cost What It Will). (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Germans at the DNC Push Beyond Mere “Translation”

Monday, August 2nd, 2004

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

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

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

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

A Chat With Middle East Expert Bernard Lewis

Wednesday, July 28th, 2004

Princeton professor emeritus Bernard Lewis is awful smart about the Middle East, having made that the specialty of his entire scholarly life. How smart? Smart enough to already have a book out like What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East when the terrorists struck on September 11, 2001, and so made it a best-seller among those trying to fathom just what it is about that part of the world that would make human beings commit such acts.

Wolfgang G. Schwanitz of the German newspaper Die Welt popped by Princeton recently for a visit, and the resulting interview transcript appears today on the Die Welt website. The point Lewis makes in the conversation that Schwanitz picks out to be his teaser is interesting enough (the interview’s title is “Europe Will Be Islamic By the End of the Century”), although he advances it at the interview’s very end, almost as a throw-away, telling Schwanitz that demographic trends clearly indicate that Europe can look forward to becoming nothing more than an extension of Arab North Africa (the Maghreb) in a few decades’ time, and not any sort of world-counterweight to America.

But Lewis makes a number of other interesting points as well in the interview. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Prospective Israeli Disasters

Monday, July 26th, 2004

Mordechai Vanunu was the Israeli “atomic spy,” the nuclear technician who in 1986 revealed secret information about Israel’s covert weapons program at the nuclear reactor at Dimona, in the Negev desert of southern Israel, in an interview with the London Sunday Times. For his troubles he was lured to Rome later that year and kidnapped there by Mossad agents, who brought him back to Israel and so to Israeli legal jurisdiction. In a secret trial, he was sentenced to eighteen years in prison for treason, which he finished serving last April.

Out of jail, it seems Vanunu still just can’t hold his tongue. (This profile in the Guardian mentions that, among other restrictions, he is obliged not to talk to the foreign press; at the same time, he is appealing to Israel’s supreme court for permission to leave the country again. Yet he recently gave an interview to the London-based Arab newspaper Al Hayat.) This strangely-stubborn behavior is probably something the rest of the world should be grateful for, at least for those who would prefer to be a little better aware of Israeli nuclear activities than the Israeli government would prefer, and the German newspaper Die Welt has picked up on his latest (Atom Expert Warns of a “Second Chernobyl” in Israel). (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Football as Nationalism, as Religion

Saturday, June 26th, 2004

For those of you who live outside the “Old World” and so who may fail to grasp the fact: Yes, the currently on-going “Euro2004” European football championship is a big deal over here, routinely re-directing daily life with its schedule of football broadcasts and calling forth floods of uniformly-colored crowds in central cities throughout the continent. So it should be no surprise when press coverage takes a step back from the “trees” of the action and results of individual games to contemplate the wider “forest” of what it all means. Often this stepping-back goes no further than attempts to find a secret formula to unlock football-championship success, which are interesting enough in themselves. But lately some analysts have gone even further than that. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Bush Speech Leaves Germans, Iraqis Unimpressed

Wednesday, May 26th, 2004

President Bush kicked off on Monday night his five-speech offensive to demonstrate to American voters (primarily) and also to the rest of the world that he has a plan for effectively handing off “sovereignty” to some native Iraqi administration at the end of June. That same day Britain and the US had tabled a proposed UN Security Council resolution which, if adopted in the proposed form, would leave occupation troops able to remain in Iraq indefinitely even as that native administration would supposedly be granted the “responsibility and authority to lead a sovereign Iraq.”

Coverage of the President’s speech in the German press generally found it less than fully convincing. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

German Professor in the Firing Line

Wednesday, May 19th, 2004

Raise a cheer for freedom of expression in Germany! – or perhaps rather to that country’s notoriously-rigid labor laws. It now seems that Defense Minister Peter Struck will not be able to relieve Michael Wolffsohn, history professor at the German armed forces university in Munich, of his post.

With this we’re back to the topics of torture and prisoner abuse that continue to dominate the news. For Wolffsohn got into trouble last week for remarks he made during an appearance on the German N-TV television channel, according to this report from the FT Deutschland, where he termed “legitimate” the use of torture or the threat of torture in the fight against terrorism, “because Terror has absolutely nothing to do with the normal basis, that is the normal value-basis, of our civilized order.” (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Controversy over the Head-Scarf Ban

Friday, January 23rd, 2004

Wow: the split-up of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez is homepage news even for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (“Jennifer Lopez Gives Ben Afflek Walking-Papers), with column titles such as Doch wieder Puffy? (“So It’s Back to Puffy?”). That’s pretty tempting to get into. But it’s not like there isn’t anything else a bit more “legitimate” to discuss – like recent setbacks for the idea of banning the wearing of religious symbolism (primarily the Muslim head-scarf for females), in both France and Germany. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Achtung, Baby! No Contracts!

Saturday, December 13th, 2003

A collective Aber was ist denn los?! issued from the German government last Wednesday, the day after the Pentagon’s new policy excluding as primary bidders on Iraqi reconstruction contracts companies from “peace camp” countries was disclosed – not by any formal notification to the countries thus excluded, mind you, but simply by a posting on the Internet, to the “Rebuilding-Iraq.net” site, of the “Determination and Findings” text, signed by Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. That’s why government spokesman Béla Anda (a very Hungarian name, by the way) qualified his qualification of the American action as “not acceptable” with the proviso that what he had been hearing from the press would turn out in fact to be true. We can make our first plunge into the facts of this case with the authoritative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Wednesday article, Berlin Criticizes Washington: Decision Unacceptable. That’s also why German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer was only willing to say that he had heard the news “with amazement” (“mit Erstaunen zur Kenntnis genommen“), and that he was going to get with his American contacts to find out what the hell was going on. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

German Angst Before Group D

Thursday, December 4th, 2003

Today we finish up our look at the Euro 2004 Group D (“Group of Death”) reactions, this time out of the German press. And there’s certainly plenty there – aided by the fact that the German on-line newspapers, helpfully, don’t follow the practice of enclosing their articles behind for-pay barriers once they get the least bit old.

Die Welt probably has the most complete coverage, headed by an article eloquently entitled Ausgerechnet Holland, or “Of All Teams – Holland!”, complete with a photo at the top of German national team coach Rudi Völler looking very anxious. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The Jackson Affair in German Eyes

Saturday, November 22nd, 2003

Time to go back to the €S bread-and-butter: the media survey. Of the recent spate of bombings in Istanbul, perhaps? Much too serious (e.g. Turkey’s September 11 – from the NRC Handelsblad); maybe later.

Instead, now that popstar Michael Jackson has run afoul of California’s “Three-Tykes-You’re-Out” law (not my line, alas; it’s Jay’s), it should be interesting to see what the press has to say about that in one country where his fans are probably even thicker-on-the-ground than they are in the US, namely Germany. There is indeed plenty of coverage to choose from the German mainstream (on-line) press; we’re not going to be able to get to it all.

But wait: One of the many articles is from the Süddeutsche Zeitung describing the American media as “Obsessed” with Michael Jackson. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Private Lynch Emerges

Tuesday, November 11th, 2003

Jessica Lynch’s book, I Was a Soldier, Too, is being published today by Alfred A. Knopf, and that fact has not escaped the German press. But the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s treatment (The Iraqis Love Their Children Too) doesn’t go very far beyond reminding its German readers what the fuss over this US Army private originally was about, and noting that this is probably not the best point in time for the American authorities to have her brought back to the American public’s attention. What with televised pictures of the shot-down Chinook helicopter of last week, which killed sixteen US soldiers, followed closely by the crash of a Blackhawk which killed a further six, “‘Black Hawk Down’ is the film of the hour” for Americans now when they think about Iraq, the FAZ reports. It is not “Saving Private Ryan” – the obvious inspiration for the “Saving Jessica Lynch” TV-movie broadcast on NBC last Sunday.

But the FAZ doesn’t deal with what Private Lynch has to say herself about her experiences. And after all, after many months of silence, as of today she is starting to write (or at least have another – namely former NYT reporter Rick Bragg – write for her) and speak (on network talk shows, naturally, and for pay). Die Welt managed a sneak peek at one of these rounds of interviews (which will be rounded off by an appearance on Letterman – “Top Ten Things to Say to the Special Forces Crashing Through Your Door,” anyone?). So it covers that angle in Die beschämte Heldin, which I think is best translated, not by anything actually having to do with “shame,” but as “The Abashed Heroine”. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The Madrid Donor’s Conference for Iraq (German View)

Friday, October 24th, 2003

Yesterday marked the first day of the two-day Iraq donors’ conference in Madrid. I’ve chosen the German press as the prism through which to review events at and surrounding that conference; it usually gives good, comprehensive coverage, and what’s more, in this situation it represents a country which you suspect doesn’t want to be at that Madrid conference in the first place. (Germany’s delegation there is headed not by a political minister – the Minister for Developmental Aid, Heidemarie Wieczoreck-Zeul, might at least have been appropriate – but by her top civil servant, state-secretary Erich Stather.)

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung covers Madrid thoroughly, in two on-line articles, the lead one of which is entitled At the Construction-Site of an Iraqi Marshall Plan. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Polish-German Relations Dampened by Expellee Dispute

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003

Meetings, meetings, meetings! But maybe that’s a foretaste of the soon-to-be EU of twenty-five members. As we noted, Tony Blair met on Saturday (20 Sept.) with Gerhard Schröder and Jacques Chirac in Berlin. Then on Sunday he met back at Chequers (the British Prime Minister’s country residence) with Spanish premier José Maria Aznar. (Those were surely discussions most suited to Blair’s day of rest, as he and Aznar see much more eye-to-eye on international issues these days than do his interlocutors in Berlin.) As for Gerhard Schröder, he met yesterday with Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller – just before flying yesterday evening to New York, for that all-important opening of the UN General Assembly and tête-à-tête with President Bush.

The German papers hardly gave front-page coverage to this meeting between Schröder and Miller (which took place at the conference center attached to the Schalke stadium in Gelsenkirchen, in the Ruhr area – Schalke are a famous German first-division football team, by the way). By and large that treatment was devoted to the overwhelming victory in the Bavarian state elections over the weekend for Edmund Stoiber’s Christian Socialist Union party – something that, unfortunately, EuroSavant isn’t all that interested in, although it has given rise to speculation that Stoiber is now rarin’ to take on Gerhard Schröder again in an electoral fight for the Chancellorship, when the time for that comes ’round again, of course.

That lack of press coverage was unfortunate, because Schröder and Miller had a lot to talk about in Gelsenkirchen. For one, they seem to have some hard-to-bridge differences over the draft EU Constitution, and this just a little over a week before the big EU Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) opens on October 4. Interestingly, according to an article previewing the Schröder/Miller summit in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung entitled No Unbundling of the EU Constitution-Package, it looks like Germany is considering deploying its big financial guns to try to get its way here. Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is quoted by the FAZ as saying as early as the beginning of September that, in his view, EU expansion, the adoption of the draft Constitution, and negotiations over EU finances – which have much to do with how much financial help of various kinds Poland gets upon entering the EU – all constitute an interrelated package. Subtext: If you want to get the money you expect, you better show some give on the Constitution. But let’s leave any further discussion of those negotiations to the near future. With the start of the IGC coming up soon, it’s guaranteed that we’ll get back to this subject soon, and in considerably more detail.

At their meeting, the German and Polish heads of government also devoted considerable time to a controversy that arose over the summer – but is still simmering – about a proposal to erect a memorial called the Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen or “Center Against Expulsions,” in Berlin. This has considerably strained relations with Germany’s neighbors to the east, not just Poland; and it’s a dispute that gives me the opportunity to display a neat picture on these pages – a magazine cover, sorta kinky! – for the first time. (But you’ll have to click on “More…” to see it – ha ha!) (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The Summit of Three in Berlin

Sunday, September 21st, 2003

Today’s topic for a press review is of course the summit held yesterday in Berlin between the leaders of the EU’s “Big Three” – Germany’s Schröder, France’s Chirac, and Britain’s Blair. The subject on the table (but, as it turned out, not the only subject) was Iraq – where to go with regard to that country’s rebuilding process, what posture to take going into the crucial meetings around the opening of the UN General Assembly to occur this following week, and how to respond generally to the Americans’ patent need for a bit of assistance there.

You remember from our past discussion, here, that two of those three (Schröder and Chirac) already met last week, also in Berlin. Now, that occasion was supposedly not for the express purpose of meeting one-on-one per se, but rather to mark the first-ever joint session of the combined German and French cabinets in the German capital. That event had been planned in advance, but nonetheless it gave the two heads-of-cabinet a convenient opportunity to confer in advance of their meeting yesterday with Tony Blair, and confer they did.

What’s going on when there’s to be a three-way meeting, but two of the three have their own little meeting ahead of time? In such a case the suspicion has to arise that the thing has really metamorphosed into, in effect, a two-way meeting, between the already-met (in a posture of solidarity forged during their previous get-together) and the third, late arrival. And don’t forget yet another meeting still, that huge meeting later this week at the UN General Assembly, which will be attended by most of the involved heads of state, and which will be marked by meetings between Chirac and Schröder on the one hand and President Bush on the other – separate meetings with each. This three-way meeting in Berlin looks an awful lot like a training-session for those all-the-marbles meetings in New York. A by-now-common preparatory technique among politicians preparing for a big debate is to find a preliminary sparring partner who can best imitate the opponent that politician will face when he is later debating for real – could Tony Blair have unwittingly been fooled into assuming this role for Messrs. Schröder and Chirac, ahead of their one-on-one conversations with George W. Bush in New York?

Among the many English-language dispatches covering the summit, the Washington Post’s report ends by recounting the “embarrassing question” the three leaders encountered at their joint news conference: Was Blair seen by the other two as simply “Bush’s envoy to the talks.” Oh no, no, they hastened to answer – Chirac even magnanimously said “I want to pay tribute to the vivid imagination of the last journalist,” i.e. the poser of the question. The other common elements you’ll be able to read about in most all the coverage were that all three agreed that the UN must be given a “key role” in Iraq, but disagreed on how long it should take to do that, Chirac demanding that this take place “within a few months”; and they all at least agreed that “we all want to see a stable Iraq,” in Blair’s words. Nothing very radical there.

But the English-language press – usually – is not EuroSavant’s happy hunting-ground, nor are the common elements that everybody is reporting the usual grist for its mill. Let’s take a look at reporting and commentary from the host nation – Germany – to see what wrinkles and unique aspects of the summit are presented there. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Reconciliation for Schröder and Berlusconi

Monday, August 25th, 2003

We’ve been following this story in EuroSavant: the war-of-words between Italy and Germany that sprung up shortly after Silvio Berlusconi took up the EU presidency at the beginning of June and, following his inaugural speech before the European Parliament, declared in the heat of accusation and counter-accusation that German MEP Martin Schulz would make a good Nazi concentration camp Kapo in an Italian film currently under production. Italian Minister for the Economy and Tourism Stefano Stefani followed this up with some unkind words about German tourists in Italy, whereupon German Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder decided not to join their ranks this summer, as he usually does. (Apparently he simply stayed home and vacationed in Hannover, where he is from – a particularly appropriate choice in light of the millions of his countrymen, and others across the EU, forced to do the same thing by financial considerations in this year-of-recession 2003.) (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Whither Germany in Afghanistan?

Thursday, August 14th, 2003

Reviewing recent EuroSavant coverage, one subject clearly stands out: Iraq. “Democracy in Iraq,” “It’s Hot in Iraq,” “Iraq Through Spanish Eyes,” etc. Maybe I should just change the name of this weblog to something like “IraqSavant” – is the .com domain name still available? (If it was, it isn’t by now!) I do try to avoid excessive concentration on one subject, or on one particular national press. But to a great extent what continues to happen in Iraq remains of great concern and interest, especially in August (the “silly season” or “cucumber time,” etc., when little else that’s truly attention-worthy ever happens, except maybe for travel accidents: crashing airliners, the Russian submarine Kursk, etc.), and especially now that more nations are being drawn into involvement, having generously agreed to assist the Americans and the British in occupation duties.

So here’s a change: How about a fairly in-depth treatment from the recent German press about what’s been going on in . . . um, Afghanistan? No wait, this is truly interesting, especially from the German point of view. You see, the Germans and Dutch last Monday finally came to the end of their six months of joint responsibility for the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), charged with helping Hamid Karzai and his Afghan Transitional Administration with establishing security in the country. So were there sighs of relief all around last Monday from the Deutsch and the Dutch? Not exactly: next to take up the ISAF baton is NATO, and of course both Germany and the Netherlands are long-standing members of NATO. In fact, at last Monday’s handover ceremony German lieutenant general Norbert van Heyst formally handed over ISAF’s green banner . . . to German lieutenant general Goetz Gliemeroth, acting for NATO! (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The German Press on Developments in Iraq

Tuesday, August 5th, 2003

One thing the German papers can all agree about covering is the record heatwave currently raging there. (It’s sunny and somewhat warm here in Amsterdam, too, but not really too bad.) But that’s boring; my cursory examination of the heatwave-related articles in the various German on-line papers unfortunately failed to turn up any piquant points of the “man-bites-dog” variety that I could usefully bring to your attention, not even any weather researchers willing to see the current wave as the forerunner of a longer warming trend in Northern Hemisphere temperatures.

Otherwise we could talk about Liberia. Maybe some other time; instead there is some interesting coverage in the German press of the ongoing situation in Iraq. (Unfortunately, none of it – yet! – discusses the deployment of Polish troops going on there.) Die Welt has an interesting article about the so-called “terror tourists”. These are the Islamic volunteers out of lands such as Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, the Palestinian areas, and, yes, Egypt and Saudi Arabia (the former the second-largest recipient world-wide of US foreign aid money, by the way) who come into Iraq via Syria and Iran to conduct their jihad against the western occupation troops there, and the Americans in particular. There could be as many as a thousand of these “terror tourists” in-country already, according to the estimates of Middle Eastern intelligence agencies, and their contribution is doing much to keep up the resistance to occupation forces in the face of waning resistance from Iraqi Baath party holdouts and uncertainty among radical Shiite groups in southern Iraq as to whether it would be a better idea to fight the occupiers or join them in the effort to rebuild the country.

And there is this further report in Die Welt about the first ministerial post in the transitional Iraqi government having been assigned. The winner is Adib el Dschadradschi (German spelling), of the Independent Democrat party, who was designated as Iraqi foreign minister. The Iraqi Governing Council is the authority behind this move, and Die Welt‘s report indicates that they’ve also already made their decisions on who is to occupy a further eleven of the twenty-five total ministerial posts they need to fill. Interestingly, the post of interior minister (i.e. controller of the national police) is said to be slated for a member of the Shiite “Dawa” party – a very influential Shiite political party, which for a while there was unsure whether it wouldn’t just be better to hold back and resist the Americans in their own jihad, rather than actually try to work with them to get the country back on its feet. And another important Shiite party, with particularly strong connections to Iran, the SCIRI, will be given the Science and Education ministry. Well, it is true that, on the basis of numbers, the Shiites constitute the majority of Iraq’s population.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Berlusconi Takes It da Kapo at the European Parliament

Thursday, July 3rd, 2003

I was hoping to move on to other subjects than the fitness of Silvio Berlusconi for the European Union presidency, but his insulting outburst yesterday while in the EU Parliament to present his president’s agenda naturally keeps me on this subject. And I was hoping to move on from reporting on the German press, which I’ve covered a bit disproportionally in the past several weeks, but it only seems logical and fair to report on reactions from the country whose MEP (Member of the European Parliament) was the target of Berlusconi’s insult, a defamation that touched on Germany’s sensitive Nazi past.

The incident took place in the debate after Berlusconi had made his “inaugural” address to Parliament. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The “Godfather” Takes Up the EU Presidency

Tuesday, July 1st, 2003

It’s July 1, so the half-yearly presidency of the European Union changes hands again (for possibly the second-to-the-last time, if the EU Constitution, which changes this system, is ratified within the first half of 2004 as planned). Good-bye to Greece; ciao to Italy, specifically to Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minster. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)