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Neoliberalism's failure state

Orbán combined Germany’s much-criticized rules for drawing electoral districts with Britain’s highly disproportionate first-past-the-post rules for constituency elections, and topped it off with the widely used d’Hondt system for deriving proportional representation from party-list votes, a system that marginalizes small parties and bulks up plurality ones. The 2014 Hungarian system also allowed for blatant gerrymandering, an unusual new system of vote aggregation, and double and even triple standards in the way that different categories of citizens were treated (see my “Hungary, An Election in Question” and “Legal but Not Fair” for details). Those who supported the government found it easy to register and vote from abroad, while those who opposed it had to contend with red tape and misleading instructions circulated by new Fidesz-installed election officials. Unless the allied opposition had garnered at least 6 percent more votes than Fidesz, it could not have won even a bare majority of the parliamentary seats. All told, the election system had been altered to turn a bare plurality into a bare supermajority—hence Orbán’s apparent landslide..
Kim Lane Scheppele explains in The Nation how Hungary has been made over into a one party state and how powerless the European Union is to do anything about it. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on May 20, 2014 - 39 comments

Everything Looks Pre-Planned With These Hungarians

"On 25 November 1953, an international football match was played between Hungary - then the world's number one ranked team, the Olympic champions and on a run of 24 unbeaten games, and England... The British press referred to it as the "Match of the Century" - the originators of the game, against the finest team in the world at that time." [more inside]
posted by marienbad on May 12, 2014 - 21 comments

Sins of The Past

The Association of Hungarian Jewish Congregations (MAZSIHISZ), has announced that it is boycotting government-sponsored events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust. This decision follows recent controversies over how the government of Viktor Orbán is choosing to mark the anniversary. [more inside]
posted by vac2003 on Feb 12, 2014 - 29 comments

Miklós Jancsó has died.

Famed Hungarian film director, Miklós Jancsó, has died at age 92. Winner of Cannes in 1972 for Red Psalm/Még kér a nép[SLYT, NSFW], which deals with a doomed uprising of farm workers, he also directed The Round-Up/Szegénylegények [SLYT, entire film], widely regarded as the greatest Hungarian film of all time. Hughly influential, he made great use of the long take with Elektreia/Szerelmem, Elektra having just 12 shots in its 70 minutes. Béla Tarr, another exponent of the long-shot, called Jancsó the greatest Hungarian film director of all time. [more inside]
posted by vac2003 on Feb 1, 2014 - 9 comments

WWI in Color

World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 31, 2013 - 60 comments

On Saturday Mornings in 1967

In 1967, Fran Allison, along with her friends Kukla and Ollie, began hosting The CBS Children’s Film Festival. It offered many American children their first look at foreign films, and their contemporaries from other cultures. [more inside]
posted by timsteil on Aug 26, 2013 - 15 comments

Az utolsó pákász

Az utolsó pákász (The Last Fisherman) 1977. For those of you who are as into education films of traditional Hungarian fishing techniques as I am.
posted by Think_Long on Jul 7, 2013 - 10 comments

The rise of the far-right in Hungary

"Jobbik is one of the most politically successful far-righ parties in Europe. The Hungarian party is anti-EU, anti-semitic and anti-roma,
and have thrived since the financial crisis."
SLYT (Channel 4 report from Budapest, Hungary.)

Also on Vice: My Week with Hungary's Far Right

Previously about Hungary:
Roma in Hungary: A Hard Life
The Frightening Hungarian Crackdown
Hungarian Democracy Under Threat
posted by bdz on May 28, 2013 - 24 comments

Announcement of the government of Canada

To deter abuse, Canada’s refugee system has changed.
People who have arrived with groundless claims for asylum are removed faster (then before).


The Government of Canada has started a billboard campaign in Miskolc, Hungary's third biggest city, to inform people about the changes of its immigration law. (Many who previously immigrated to Canada used to live in this city and its surrounding area.)

Also, two Global News reports from Canada:

The Outsiders. The harsh realities of being a Hungarian Roma refugee in Canada.

(Previously)
posted by bdz on Jan 29, 2013 - 149 comments

Roma in Hungary: A Hard Life

The status of Roma in Hungary has been brought into sharp focus with a controversial article [link in Hungarian] by prominent ruling-party FIDESZ member, Zsolt Bayer, in which he says, "a significant part of the Roma are unfit for co-existence. They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals and they behave like animals." The Guardian reports on the growing anger at the article, The Hungarian Spectrum, and well-known poet and translator of Hungarian literature George Szirtes weigh in with English translations of some of Bayer’s article. Many leading Hungarian politicians condemn the article. [more inside]
posted by vac2003 on Jan 11, 2013 - 59 comments

The Frightening Hungarian Crackdown

"The new constitution 'recognizes the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood,' and art that is deemed blasphemous or 'anti-national' is now the target of a full-blown campaign of suppression."
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Jan 10, 2013 - 137 comments

"God, you owe me a life - a living baby."

Dr. Gisella Perl was a gynecologist living in what is now Sighet, Rumania, when in 1944 she and her family were transported by the Nazis to the death camp at Auschwitz. There, she was forced to work under Joseph Mengele in the camp hospital. After seeing the horrors and abuse leading up to the murder of pregant women, she "decided that never again would there be a pregnant woman in Auschwitz." Gisella Perl: Angel and Abortionist in the Auschwitz Death Camp [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 28, 2012 - 40 comments

So I Pardoned an Axe Murderer

In 2004, Gurgen Margaryan (from Armenia) and Ramil Safarov (from Azerbaijan) were in Budapest attending a NATO-sponsored language training. While Margaryan was sleeping, Safarov hacked him to death with an axe. Safarov, who never denied his culpability and stated he only committed the crime because Margaryan was Armenian, was sentenced to life in prison in 2006. [more inside]
posted by orrnyereg on Sep 10, 2012 - 31 comments

The thick red line.

October 14, 2010: A breach at a bauxite processing plant spilled a million cubic meters of red sludge across the countryside near Ajka, Hungary, killing nine people. Six months later, photographer Palíndromo Mészáros took photos of the disaster site, abandoned save for The Red Line. (via) [more inside]
posted by googly on Jul 16, 2012 - 20 comments

Not At Home

Hungarian mid-wife, Dr Ágnes Géreb, is headed for jail after nearly 18 months of house arrest, for 'neglient malpractice'. This follows her sentence being increased after an unsuccessful appeal. The Royal College of Midwives has called for her release and the BBC's Central European correspondant Nick Thorpe, whose five children were delivered by Dr Géreb, has written extensively on the case. More information is available at http://www.freeagnesgereb.com/.
posted by vac2003 on Apr 27, 2012 - 37 comments

ScHmITt hits the fan

An expert committee has found that the President of Hungary, Dr. Pál Schmitt, is not guilty of plagiarism, despite extensive parts of his doctoral thesis being copied from multiple sources. The fault, the committee claims, was not his, but that of his supervisors. The Contrarian Hungarian and The Hungarian Spectrum have detailed analysis of the allegations and the committee’s report, while the Urban Dictionary has coined a new term in honor of the scandal. Other European politicians have faced with similar claims recently with differing results.
posted by vac2003 on Mar 28, 2012 - 34 comments

This is why Jakob Ander won't hire you

This is why I don't give you a job. Hungarian blogger Jakab Andor breaks down the numbers and explains why taxes and regulations make it highly unappealing for him to start a small business employing people in Hungary. He also argues that these same factors make women and older people particularly unappealing prospects. His comments generated quite a bit of controversy (warning: most comments in Hungarian), to which he responded with an offer.
posted by shivohum on Jan 13, 2012 - 96 comments

Hungarian Democracy Under Threat

Previously. On 1 January Hungary's new Constitution came into effect which, amongst other things, entrenches the power of the current ruling party, FIDESZ, and enshrines social issues such as the right of the unborn child. Many so-called cardinal laws have been passed in Parliament which requires a 2/3 majority to change. The president of the EU, José Barroso wrote to the Hungarian Prime Minister, Victor Orbán, requesting a rethink of two such laws which impact the political independence to the Central Bank. This was rejected by the Hungarian government. Economically things are tough with Hungary requesting additional IMF assistance but they withdrew from informal talks, citing concern over the independence of the central bank. Hungary's debt was downgraded to junk status with rating agencies citing concerned at the relationship with the IMF. [more inside]
posted by vac2003 on Jan 3, 2012 - 27 comments

I Am a Tip-Top Starlet

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders attempt to read a poorly translated Hungarian interview with Madonna (allegedly re-retranslated for USA Today).
posted by hermitosis on Jan 2, 2012 - 15 comments

The Goulash Archipelago

Orbán's concept of moral renewal and economic rehabilitation for Hungary has several tenets: Those without work are to be given work; those who are already working should work more in the future, but without being paid more; in the interest of the country's "stability," those who hold political power today should be allowed to remain in office for as long as possible; and those who once had power and did not use it for the benefit of the people should now be punished.
"Supporters of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán say he has a strict leadership style, while critics warn of the threat of forced political conformity, Jew-baiting and labor camps. Meanwhile, the European Union is saying nothing, apparently accepting the fact that a member state is getting out of control." [previously]
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear on Aug 20, 2011 - 17 comments

Hugo, Strange

Wherever you go, H u- g o- hip po- potamus

The nightmarish and psychedelic 1976 children's movie Hugo the Hippo features a score of hippos who save the port of Zanzibar from "cap-wearing sharks decked out with biker jewelry", only to be massacred by the Sultan's greenish advisor (voiced by Paul Lynde), leaving poor Hugo an orphan. The soundtrack [flash player] includes songs by Burl Ives (as the titular hungry hippo), Jimmy and Marie Osmond, and the Ken Williams Quartet. There is no official DVD release, but the Hugo fansite has some options for obtaining the movie, and it's available on Youtube [links above]. The story is based on a real Hugo the Hippo, who terrorized farmers near Dar es Salaam: "Game workers dug a 7-ft. pit along Hugo's dinner trail, lowered a big wooden crate into it, covered the top with branches, and baited it with three succulent pumpkins, Hugo's favorite dessert." Gyorgi Peluce, the color designer responsible for The Simpson's unique hues, is a Hugo alumnus from the Hungarian animation company PannóniaFilm. Previously on AskMe: 1, 2
posted by benzenedream on Aug 9, 2011 - 19 comments

Otto von Habsburg-Lothringen 1912-2011

Otto von Habsburg-Lothringen, son of Charles, last monarch of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, died on July 4 at the age of 98. [more inside]
posted by dhens on Jul 5, 2011 - 24 comments

Magyar Madness?

As Hungary takes over the Presidency of the European Union, a new media law also comes into effect that centralizes control of the media in ways many consider is anti-democratic. The central media authority can issue decrees and apply financial penalties to those media, including internet portals and blogs who for "politically unbalanced reporting". The first test for the new Authority is Ice T following the broadcast of his songs, "Warning" and "It's On". Local media responded with blank pages by way of protest. Many see this as the latest example in the increasing authoritarian and anti-democratic nature of the Orban-led FIDESZ government. They point to the privatization of pensions, the diminution of the powers of the Constitutional Court and the imposition of wind-fall taxes on multi-national companies, as examples of this trend. The Washington Post calls it the "Putinizantion of Hungary", while The Guardian laments "One-party rule" in Hungary. The German newspaper, Spiegel describes it as a "A Slow Poison Attacking Democracy" while quoting those who refer to Hungary as a "Führer state". Local critics include the prominent economist János Kornai. English readers can keep up to-date with developments at the Hungarian Spectrum blog and politics.hu. On the hand, some see Hungary as a World of Potentials (SLYT).
posted by vac2003 on Jan 12, 2011 - 37 comments

Bibliotheca Corviniana

The library of King Matthias I of Hungary, the Bibliotheca Corviniana, was "the second greatest collection of books in Europe in the Renaissance period, after that of the Vatican." Destroyed following the 15th century Turkish invasion of Hungary (despite the efforts of Matthias' vassal Vlad III the Impaler), a few surviving codices have been digitized by the National Széchényi Library and the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. [more inside]
posted by Paragon on Jan 6, 2011 - 7 comments

Greatest Hungarian Iranologist

Sándor Kégl, master of languages (via mr)
posted by kliuless on Oct 26, 2010 - 15 comments

90 years from the streets of Budapest

Fortepan is a collection of 4973 found amateur photos sourced mainly in Budapest. Pick a year and browse - photos are organized in chronological order from 1900 to 1990, accessible via a slider. "Users are encouraged to use, copy, send to friends, clip or paste the photos, which are free for they are not our property." (via Szanalmas, sometimes nsfw)
posted by madamjujujive on Aug 29, 2010 - 19 comments

1989, revolution in Eastern Europe

The BBC World Service has put together a special report on the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe (they also have a simpler portal). There is a wealth of material, including TV reports on key events from the BBC archives, interviews, a map timeline, a report on Catholicism's role in the 1989 revolutions, a first-hand report of what it was like to gather news in East Germany during that time and much more.
posted by Kattullus on Oct 27, 2009 - 20 comments

Hungarian-Slovak relations are tense these days

First there was the State Language Act that many Hungarians and EU observers claim discriminates against the significant Hungarian minority in Slovakia. The Slovaks were predictably indigent. The issue isn't new though. Relations soured further when the Slovaks recently refused entry to the Hungarian President. Clearly, there is much history to overcome.
posted by vac2003 on Aug 31, 2009 - 34 comments

Gasparcolor

Colour on the Thames is a 7 minute film shot in 1935 using Gasparcolor, one of the many early forms of tinting black and white film. Beside Colour on the Thames, which provides a wonderful view of 1930's England, the only film made in Gasparcolor I could find online was Colour Flight by New Zealand artist Len Lye, an abstract cartoon set to instrumental 1930's pop music. The story of Gasparcolor is in itself interesting, for instance touching on Nazis, Hungary between the wars and early color animation.
posted by Kattullus on Jan 27, 2009 - 12 comments

RaDaK

The manuscripts of David Kaufmann, Jewish scholar extraordinaire. Wonderful illuminations, inventive typography and even a little bit of naughtiness.
posted by tellurian on Jan 21, 2009 - 8 comments

Sunday's Gloomy

Hungary may be the gloomiest country on earth. Believed by its people to be suffering from a centuries long curse, it's most famous modern musical export is probably the "Hungarian Suicide Song" - Gloomy Sunday. Originally popularized by Billie Holiday in the US (with an upbeat ending tacked onto the original lyrics), it's been covered dozens of times since then. Links to a few of my favorites inside: [more inside]
posted by empath on Jan 10, 2009 - 37 comments

Russia stops all gas supply to Europe via Ukraine

Newsfilter: It's that time of the year again, though now it seems to be more serious. Russia stopped all gas supply to Europe via Ukraine on Wednesday, January 7, 2009. The EU depends on Russia for about a quarter of its total gas supplies, some 80% of which is pumped through Ukraine. At least seventeen countries are affected, many of them severely as Russia is their primary or only source of gas. [more inside]
posted by b. on Jan 7, 2009 - 51 comments

Do you know these children?

Do you, or an older relative of yours, recognize any of these children? More than 70 children separated from their families during WWII, now all elderly men and women, are using the Internet to try to find some answers about their pasts, their families, and sometimes even their own names. They are soliciting help and suggestions in the comments sections on each story. [more inside]
posted by Asparagirl on Dec 19, 2008 - 21 comments

Food and Beverages in Hungary

Food and Beverages in Hungary is a pretty excellent blog, particularly for anyone who's interested in food, beverages, and/or Hungary.
posted by Wolfdog on Jul 13, 2008 - 19 comments

Righteous among the Peoples

In March 1944, Nazi Germany occupied its ally Hungary and immediately began preparing the extermination of Hungary's Jews. A small band of diplomats from neutral countries and the Red Cross put their lives at risk to try to smuggle as many Jews as possible out of Hungary from under Adolf Eichmann's nose. While Raoul Wallenberg remains the best known of these "Righteous among the Nations", there's no doubt that the most intriguing character was Giorgio "Jorge" Perlasca. [more inside]
posted by Skeptic on Jun 29, 2008 - 4 comments

Current insulator fun

From a .com to a .info netting the price of a Westinghouse (R-Skirt) "Telluride" Type B. SB (part of the Greatest Insulator Find in the History of the Hobby). via Zoltan Drinoczi. [previously]
posted by tellurian on May 21, 2008 - 15 comments

Carbohydrate Loading

World Record Spaghetti Bridge [more inside]
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium on Mar 8, 2008 - 34 comments

Iminimi

Here we have a virulent earworm (with a high language-independent sing-along quotient) from early 80's Hungary. Over here we have a site for constructing catastrophic webcam karaoke versions.
posted by Wolfdog on Feb 11, 2008 - 12 comments

Romani portraits

The Roma Journeys - contemporary photographs of Roma life in Hungary, India, Greece, Romania, France, Russia, and Finland by Joakim Eskildsen. For more photo essays and info on the Roma, see two superb prior posts by plep and taz.
posted by madamjujujive on Nov 15, 2007 - 26 comments

Gaida! Gaida! Gaida!

The gaida is a bagpipe from Southeastern Europe. Gaida mp3s? Lots of 'em here. Gaida on the YouTubes? Why, yes. Yes, of course. Certainly. There's a bunch. Really. A lot. And electric ones? Yup. And here's a deflated one. But do any hippies play this thing? And dance to it? Sure! But the real question is: What is the problem with this gaida?
posted by flapjax at midnite on Sep 10, 2007 - 11 comments

After Stalin in Poland and Hungary

Learn the Truth is an excellent (Flash) presentation on the years after Stalin's death in Poland and Hungary. There's also a plain HTML version.
posted by Wolfdog on Jun 20, 2007 - 6 comments

Hungarian Rapper

Stop the War video performed by Speak the Hungarian Rapper. Try not to laugh. Fan page with lyrics and song analysis.
posted by skepticX on Mar 5, 2007 - 18 comments

Hungary 1956. Still divided after Fifty years.

Fifty years ago, on October 23, 1956, Hungarians rose up in a violent revolt against the Soviet occupation and Communist domination of their government and country. The revolt was not materially supported by NATO or its allies, and - given the timing - was doomed to failure. Today, many of the heroes are forgotten. After 16 years of democratic government, Hungarian politics is still bitterly divided and Hungarians are unable to celebrate this anniversary with a single united National ceremony.
posted by zaelic on Oct 22, 2006 - 8 comments

Worst violence in Hungary since the fall of communism...

"We lied in the morning, and we lied in the evening,"... "Evidently, we lied throughout the last year-and-a-half, two years. You can't show me any significant government measure that we can be proud of, other than, in the end, we managed to drag the government back from the brink." 150 injured in rioting. brought about by the leak of a taped speech by Ferenc Gyurcsány wikipedia
posted by handee on Sep 19, 2006 - 23 comments

Laszlo Kovacs, Vilmos Zsigmund, and the Hungarian Revolution

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. A key documentary artifact of the uprising is Magyarország lángokban (Hungary in Flames) [embedded .wmv], partly composed of footage shot by two young film school students using whatever equipment they could find. Narrowly avoiding capture by the Communists, the duo smuggled 10,000 feet of film out of the country in spare tires and potato sacks; there's much more to the story, but better to hear Vilmos tell it in his own words. [.rm] Eventually, they made their way to America, where László Kovács, ASC (Five Easy Pieces, Ghost Busters, more) and Vilmos Zsigmund, ASC (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Deliverance, more) became two of the most prolific cinematographers in Hollywood history. [more inside]
posted by milquetoast on Aug 8, 2006 - 7 comments

Heard about the cat with Bubonic Plague in Flagstaff?

The RSOE Global Disasters Service tracks seismic activity, bird flu, chemical spills and even vehicle accidents by monitoring and processing data of approximately 600-700 news sources, many researching institutes and realtime data of forecasting services. I've subscribed to the RSS feed and you should too . . . you've been getting too much sleep anyway. [via]
posted by If I Had An Anus on Jun 29, 2006 - 8 comments

It's Raining Forints, Henderson!

How do you say, "I have a gub" in Hungarian? (registration or video viewing required) Attila Ambrus, the handsome, courtly Whiskey Robber of Budapest, shares his tale with Salon, and what a yarn it is! After fleeing his native Romania beneath a train, Ambrus was variously a pelt-smuggler, Zamboni-wrangler, world-class hockey failure, gravedigger, and dog-walker, until he found his true calling in 1993: relieving banks of their cash. Then the story gets interesting, involving bad disguises, flowers for the bank tellers, a nervous stomach, a prison break via knotted bedclothes, and pursuit by his own Lieut. Columbo. It all added up to folk heroism for "Chicky Panther," until they put him away in Hungary's maximum security slammer, where he languishes today. Now he's talking, and Hollywood's listening.
posted by rob511 on Dec 23, 2005 - 8 comments

Mit könny meg szép szó meg nem tart

Several dozen folk, popular and art songs from Hungary (in Real Audio and MP3).
posted by Wolfdog on Jul 31, 2005 - 6 comments

Tanár úr kérem!

School stories (long out of print in English) of Frigyes Karinthy. Short, funny, and occasionally bittersweet; favorites include The Good Student and The Bad Student Tested, and Hanging From the Apparatus.
posted by Wolfdog on Mar 1, 2005 - 2 comments

Sylvia Plachy

'Falling in love with the truth'. On Dec. 10, 1956, exactly one month after Soviet troops crushed the last hopes of the Hungarian Revolution, 13-year-old Sylvia Plachy lay hidden in a farm cart that was carrying her toward the Austrian border. That night, Plachy and her parents escaped, finally making their way to the United States. The family settled in Queens, New York, where the teenager grew up to become one of the most incisive photographers of her generation. Many of the photographs will be displayed this spring at the Rose Gallery in Los Angeles, and are on view now at New York's Hunter Fox Gallery, where Plachy (scroll down) recently talked about the book and her career. Her pictures "have to do with what memory looks like,' she explains. "How you remember things. Not so much how they are, but how they get translated." Oh, she's Adrien Brody's mom and she uses a Holga.
posted by matteo on Feb 8, 2005 - 15 comments

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