Posts tagged ‘europe’

November 19, 2010

Berlin’s terror alert: What goes around comes around

THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT HAS issued a terror warning for the country and especially for Berlin, where a major terrorist attack is expected “before the end of the month.” Security fences have gone up around the Reichstag building, machine-gun toting policeman with sixteen kilo bullet-proof vests are patrolling public spaces, security has been doubled outside the city’s Jewish institutions, the BVG public transit authority has proclaimed its second highest security level, and Berlin’s senator for interior affairs (i.e. for police and public safety), Ehrhart Körting, has asked all citizens to report “strange-looking” people and activities to the authorities. According to American security officials, up to four al-Qaeda operatives are already in or near Berlin, where they can rely on over 400 Islamist allies in the capital itself and 3,000 nationwide, many of them fresh from terrorist…

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October 21, 2010

Should the Poles make Jesus their king?

GO INTO ANY CORNER bar in the US and ask the patrons who is really in charge of America, you’ll likely receive a list of the usual suspects in response: the banks, the liberals, the military-industrial complex, the UN, the Trilateral Commission, the gay people, or that old standby, the Jews. Go into your local “Christian” fitness club or megachurch, however, and you may learn that Jesus is really the man in charge, hindered only in his good works by the pernicious influence of the devil (abetted by the liberals, the gay people, etc.). Strangely, though, no one ever suggests hiring the Prince of Peace directly, with people instead preferring to vote for Sarah Palin or Christine O’Donnell to do His holy work. Ask around on the streets of Warsaw and Krakow and you’ll get an even more definite response: Jesus should actually be placed in charge of Poland. In fact, they might tell you, he should be anointed king…

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October 13, 2010

New report finds Germany swinging towards the right

FOR MONTHS IN THIS SPACE I have been writing about the resurgence of anti-immigrant sentiment and “respectable” far-right parties in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. While such feelings and parties come and go and have rarely amounted to much since 1945, a new report being presented in Berlin today shows that right wing ideas are becoming increasingly acceptable in Germany and have, in fact, moved into “the center of society.” The Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s new 180-page report The Center in Crisis: Far Right Attitudes in Germany in 2010 finds that “in 2010 there was a significant increase in anti-democratic and racist…

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October 5, 2010

Right-wing Sweden Democrats walk out of anti-racist sermon

IT APPEARS AS IF the Sweden Democrats, the far-right party that recently gained twenty seats in Sweden’s 349-seat Riksdag, are not only skinheads but they are thin-skinned too.  (I have already written about the Sweden Democrats here.)  Today, Prime Minister Reinfeldt, the new parliament, the royal family, and other dignitaries met at Stockholm’s St. Nicholas Cathedral to celebrate a formal service to mark the opening the new parliament.  So far so good.  But as soon as Bishop Eva Brunne began telling the congregation of the thousands of people around the country who were demonstrating against racism, and that it is not worthy of a devout person to make distinctions on the basis of race or ethnic background, the SD group stood up and walked out of the church…

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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 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 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 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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August 18, 2010

The Holy Google Empire: Is “Street View” going too far?

GOOGLE HAS NEVER BEEN known for half-measures. A digital Napoleon, its corporate goal appears to be to drag the entire planet, with all its inhabitants, kicking and screaming under the heal of its own cyber empire – but only for our own good, of course. 

Take Google’s latest global campaign. The company’s “Google Street View” service promises to bring close-up, full-frontal images of your house (plus local information and advertising) onto computer screens from Tierra del Fuego to Tipperary. Now you can no longer just inspect the roof of Aunty Em’s bungalow in Wichita from outer space, you can even peer into her parlor window and wave to her while she sits – frozen – drinking tea with her lover Bobby Joe from the…

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