Archive for September, 2010

September 29, 2010

New terror threats encourage Europe’s new New Right

JUST AFTER NORWEGIAN POLICE uncovered a further plot to blow up the headquarters of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, new reports have come out revealing a broad-based conspiracy to stage massive urban terror attacks across Europe. Britain’s Sky News told viewers yesterday that a group linked to a Pakistan-based al-Qaeda network is planning to stage armed assaults in the style of the 2008 Mumbai attacks on London as well as on cities in France and Germany. All three countries have sizeable ISAF forces operating in Afghanistan. The current surge in American drone attacks on targets in Pakistan is apparently aimed at disrupting the plot, which is at an “advanced but not immanent stage.” Ironically, the acts appear to be motivated by revenge against the drone attacks, which regularly violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and have killed…

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September 28, 2010

Bomb plot against Danish newspaper uncovered

WHEN THE DANISH NEWSPAPER Jyllands-Posten first published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005 as a provocation to domestic Muslims, the paper’s editor and staff knew they was courting trouble. But they could scarcely have imagined just how much chaos the cartoons would eventually cause, including deadly riots and a boycott of Danish products across the Muslim world. Were it not for some quick work on the part of the Danish Intelligence Service and the Norwegian police, the affair could have finished the newspaper and its staff off…

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September 27, 2010

Shock and awe: Understanding the Lörrach massacre

NOBODY EVER THOUGHT IT COULD happen here – but then again, nobody ever does. Lörrach is one of Germany’s most picturesque towns, located as it is in the extreme southwestern corner of the former Grand Duchy of Baden on the hilly Swiss and French borders. It is known for its ruined castles, fine wines, spectacular scenery – and, since last weekend, for a particularly bloody and senseless triple murder…

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September 27, 2010

Politician’s “slip of the tongue” has France on its knees

CALL IT THE INTERPRETER’S dilemma: to what extent is it permissible to “improve” on the speaker’s words coming through your headset? So far, my experience with this problem has been limited to desperately trying to make sense out of the frequently meaningless flood of language coming from politicians whose speeches sound like they mean something but are actually crafted to obscure the truth and bore their audience into submission. If you’re an interpreter of German, as I am, the main problem lies in a speaker’s stubborn failure to employ verbs (which normally come at the end of a sentence in a subordinate clause), i.e. their refusal to make sense, and it can…

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September 20, 2010

The new New Right wins big in Sweden

AS COUNTRIES GO THESE days, you can’t get much more respectable than Sweden. Didn’t the Swedes remain (more or less) neutral during both World Wars? Don’t they spend more than almost any other people on foreign aid? And wasn’t it a Swede who created the Nobel Peace Prize? But Alfred Nobel also invented dynamite, and last weekend’s parliamentary election with its lurch to the “respectable right” is the most explosive in recent memory.

Things started out very well for conservative minister president Fredrik Reinfeldt, who hoped to walk back to power after a successful four years at the head of this traditionally…

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September 14, 2010

Europe says: “Frankenfoods must die!”

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When most people think of revolutionary movements, images of the Storming of the Bastille and the March on Washington come to mind. It takes a city to make a revolution. That’s where the people are, right? But the latest new radical movement to take Europe in its grip has sprung up in what might at first appear to be an unlikely place: a plot of land in the northeastern German state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania that the left-wing newspaper Junge Welt calls “probably Germany’s best-guarded potato field.”…
September 14, 2010

“Freedom”! Germany’s rush to the right

RENEGADE ECONOMIST THILO SARRAZIN might not know much about genetics, but he sure knows his way around money. Last week the controversial economist, whose anti-immigrant book Germany is Abolishing Itself is topping all the bestseller lists, finally agreed to leave his no longer defensible position on the Board of Directors of the Bundesbank in Frankfurt after direct intervention by Germany’s president, Christian Wulff. In the end, Sarrazin did not take the Bundesbank to court, but he did take it to the cleaners: Sarrazin finagled an extra one thousand euros in monthly pension payments, the amount he would have gotten if he had stuck it out until his term ended in 2014. As it is, Germany’s best-known Muslim-hater and “Jewish gene” proponent, who has not exactly had to go begging so far and whose book has already sold over 400,000 copies in two weeks at 22,99 euros a pop, will be receiving a monthly pension check of 10,000…

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September 8, 2010

Inspired timing: Berlin politician launches anti-Islam party

THAT’S WHAT I CALL inspired timing. Just when (some) Americans are already gathering to burn Qurans in Florida, a German city councilman in Berlin today announced the founding of a new anti-Muslim party that will run candidates in next year’s municipal election. The conservative Christian Democratic Union kicked René Stadtkewitz (45), who represents the city’s Pankow district in the capital’s local House of Representatives, out of the CDU group yesterday for inviting the xenophobic Dutch politician Geert Wilders to deliver a lecture here on October 2 to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of Germany’s reunification. This was too much for the CDU, and Stadtkewitz…

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September 8, 2010

Koran-burning pastor’s German parishioners shocked by plans

TOO LATE, GENERAL PETRAEUS: The Rev. Terry Jones’s plan to burn thousands of Korans at his “Dove World Outreach” Center in Gainsville, Florida on September 11 has already grabbed the world’s headlines this week, regardless of what actually does or doesn’t happen on Saturday. It has attracted particular attention in the German city of Cologne, where the pesky pastor first got his big break. But his former parishioners want nothing to do with…

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September 3, 2010

Thilo Sarrazin’s night of long knives

THE WOLVES ARE CIRCLING Thilo Sarrazin. The knives are out. Yesterday, in an unprecedented step, the august board of directors of Deutsche Bank dismissed the renegade economist and Islam critic from its ranks. Was he caught with his hand in the till? No, he wasn’t even caught sneaking cookies. Instead, Sarrazin has written a book that Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling “nonsense” and that the Turkish and most of the German press is calling “racist” and “incendiary.” Sarrazin has been relieved of all his functions effective immediately for violating Deutsche Bank’s internal code of ethics. On Monday, German president Christian Wulff is expected to formalize…

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