The non-enforced borders between European nations are a feast for the eye and a testament of hope for a united, peaceful, border-free world.
The playgrounds weren’t just beautiful. They were quiet. That was what struck me when I first moved to Vienna, Austria. Children there played and laughed, but rarely yelled across the park.
Consumerist: The U.S. has a giant cheese surplus and unfortunately, this is a bad thing. Bloomberg graph: Welcome to Cheese Mountain. (n.b. not a real, visitable, place) nymag: "Our great nation apparently had an inventory of 1.2 billion pounds at the end of March, the highest in 30 years." FoodDive: "Startups may see an opportunity to create marketable products out of inexpensive ingredients, and more cheese-based product startups could pop up and generate interest from investors and major manufacturers." Mashable: "Do your part. Eat more cheese."
Once a centre of industry as well as a prosperous port, the city is now synonymous with the misery of migrants, and its residents are not enjoying their notoriety.
With all the focus today on the problems in the Middle East, it's easy to forget that for most of the 20th century, Europe was the central US foreign policy problem and the source of massive wars that cost millions of lives. The solution to this problem was European integration — a heavily American project, in large part because it served US interests so well.
"Our European Union is disintegrating. Should we accelerate the disintegration of a failed confederacy? If one insists that even small countries can retain their sovereignty, as I have done, does this mean Brexit is the obvious course? My answer is an emphatic 'No!'" [more inside]
Brussels explosions: Many dead in airport and metro terror attacks BBC: "Many people have been killed or seriously injured in terrorist attacks at Brussels international airport and a city metro station, Belgium's PM says. Two explosions hit Zaventem airport at about 07:00 GMT, and another struck Maelbeek metro station an hour later. The government has not confirmed casualty numbers. Brussels transport officials say 15 died at Maelbeek and media say up to 13 died at the airport. Belgium has now raised its terror threat to its highest level. The attacks come four days after Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive in the Paris attacks, was seized in Brussels."
After a series of national selection processes, all 43 contestants for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest are set. Two familiar faces (last year's winner, Måns Zelmerlöw, and 2013 host Petra Mede) will guide us through two semis and a Grand Final while hopefully also making sense of a new vote-counting system. Come for the camp, stay for the geopolitical intrigue. [more inside]
How do you make a secure record of a debt or exchange if you can't read or write? Cut a number of notches across a stick to symbolize the assets involved, then split the wood lengthwise: you now have two tamper-proof receipts, one for each party to the transaction. The split tally method formed the basis for much of European bookkeeping between medieval times and the modern era. [more inside]
The Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy announced the first government initiative in Europe to develop a legal and regulatory framework on the future ownership of minerals extracted from objects in space, such as asteroids.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who built a barbed wire fence around his country to keep out the migrants, was also [at a Brussels summit]. He saw, and enjoyed, seeing [Angela] Merkel in a fix. He took the floor and said: "It is only a matter of time before Germany builds a fence. Then I'll have the Europe that I believe is right." Merkel said nothing at first, a person present at the meeting relates. Only later, after a couple other heads of government had their say, did Merkel turn to Orbán and say: "I lived behind a fence for too long for me to now wish for those times to return."-The Isolated Chancellor: What Is Driving Angela Merkel? by Markus Feldenkirchen and René Pfister of Der Spiegel.
It was not until 1971, 65 years after Finland became the first European country to grant women the vote, that Switzerland became the last, not only in Europe but in much of the world.
"For the next several days, I’m going to be sharing stories from refugees who are currently making their way across Europe." Humans of New York went to Greece (and will go to other locations) to talk to newly-arrived refugees fleeing Iraq as well as some locals. It will be posting their stories and photos. There are spots of kindness, however, as you'd expect, they are largely terrifying and tragic. (Warning: Human suffering and death.) [more inside]
Literary Magazines for Socialists Funded by the CIA, Ranked [from The Awl] [more inside]
When you’re facing the world’s biggest refugee crisis since the second world war, it helps to have a sober debate about how to respond.
"Welcome to the nerve-wracking reality of being Finland. To a casual visitor, it seems like yet another Western European country, a placid paradise with its abundance of bicycles, its obsession with its own mid-twentieth-century design, and stores that close punctually at six in the evening. The Finns feel otherwise. When they go to neighboring Sweden, they say they are “going to Europe.” As it happens, neither country is a member of NATO, but only Finland has a long land border with Russia—and a living memory of having been invaded by the Soviet Union." [more inside]
A conversation with Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz
This is significant because in Europe all political thought is imperialist. This means that politics as we know it today, implemented by countries small, middle-sized or large, incorporates the experience of imperial politics from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. That was when the foundations of what we call "the political" were forged, which always entails a balance between power and weakness, and must be the result of an analysis of your strengths and vulnerabilities against the strengths and vulnerabilities of your opponent. To risk banality: politics without political realism is not politics. You see, all European politics is founded on political realism produced by imperial politics. And this experience is completely alien to Poles.[more inside]
How World War III became possible: A nuclear conflict with Russia is likelier than you think (SLVox).
The wetsuitman. Last winter two bodies were found in Norway and the Netherlands. They were wearing identical wetsuits. The police in three countries were involved in the case, but never managed to identify them. This is the story of who they were.
In Europe, Fake Jobs Can Have Real Benefits (SLNYT)
The concept of virtual companies, also known as practice firms, traces its roots to Germany after World War II, when large numbers of people needed to reorient their skills. Intended to supplement vocational training, the centers emerged in earnest across Europe in the 1950s and spread rapidly in the last two decades.
Cooking In The Archives: recreating recipes from the Early Modern Peroid (1600s-1800s) in a modern kitchen. Not old enough? Then try some authentically medieval recipes.
The 2015 Eurovision Song Contest winner has now been crowned (previously), but the real stars of the contest were the fabulous and entertaining International Sign interpreters. [more inside]
Flâner is a series by Cecile Emeke (nyt) about blackness in France: episode 1; episode 2; episode 3.
Disruption’s Tragic Flaw The case of Uber shows why European companies should not follow the example of their American competitors too closely. It pays to take the needs of customers and contractors into account.
The Failure of Multiculturalism - Community Versus Society in Europe
Thirty years ago, many Europeans saw multiculturalism—the embrace of an inclusive, diverse society—as an answer to Europe’s social problems. Today, a growing number consider it to be a cause of them.[more inside]
For the past three weeks, listeners to France's seven public radio stations have heard little other than music - even on news and speech stations such as France Info and France Inter. The longest strike in the history of Radio France is showing no sign of coming to an end, with both sides becoming more entrenched. [more inside]
On stage that day, Iglesias declared that Podemos would take back power from self-serving elites and hand it over to the people. To do that, the new party needs votes. If that means arousing emotions and being accused of populism, so be it. And, as the party’s founders have already shown, if they have to renounce some of their ideas in order to broaden their appeal, or risk upsetting some in their grassroots movement by tightening central control, they are ready to do that, too. The aim, after all, is to win. [more inside]
With all of the national selections now made, let's take a look at how the Eurovision Song Contest's 60th anniversary is shaping up. Terribad songs ahead; enter at your own risk. [more inside]
119 years ago, today, the unthinkable happened, as far as the Europeans were concerned. The Ethiopian army trounced the Italians in the Battle of Adwa. Headlines such as ‘Abyssinia (Ethiopia) Defeats Invading Italians’; ’80,000 Ethiopians Destroy 20,000 Italians at the Battle of Adwa’; ‘Italian Premier Crispi Resigns’; and ‘Abyssinia and Italy Sign Peace Treaty.’ peppered the European press. Adwa was placed on the world map and remained a historic story because of Ethiopia’s decisive victory against the Italian army on March 1st 1896 (Yekatit 23, 1888 according to the Ethiopian calendar).
'I am a woman. I do not like war. But I would rather die than accepting your deal."attributed to Empress Taitu Bitul*, Wife of Menelik II [more inside]
While a few still fret about the ongoing fisticuffs in the eastern parts and the reluctance of Greece to repay a few bucks borrowed for the weekend from Germany, the real surprise, anger and confusion enveloping contemporary Europe is the admittance of Australia. [more inside]
Piratenpartei MEP Julia Reda’s draft report on copyright (pdf) has been heavily criticized by former Swedish Pirate Party MEP Amelia Andersdotter (previously).
Greece’s anti-austerity party of the left, Syriza, has stretched its election lead to six points, putting it on course for a historic victory in Sunday’s crucial elections. Barely four weeks after the failure of parliament to elect a president, triggering the ballot, Greece’s fate now lies in the hands of 9.8 million voters. All the polls show, with growing conviction, that victory will go to Syriza. A poll released by GPO for Mega TV late on Thursday gave the far leftists a six-percentage-point lead over Samaras’s centre-right New Democracy, the dominant force in a coalition government that has held power since June 2012. A week earlier, GPO had the lead at four percentage points. [more inside]
We are the best (2013) is a Swedish film set in 1980's Stockholm, about three young punk girls who form a band (mainly to play a song dedicated to their gym teacher called "Hate the Sport"). It's fairly lighthearted, but there are some deeply poignant moments that really capture what it's like to be that 13 year old girl with the short hair and all the usual insecurities, finding solace in friends, music, and giving the finger to mainstream society. This is England (2006) is another counter-culture-coming of age film, about a group of skinheads in England, c. 1983. This is a much heavier film, exploring serious issues of race, gender, social class, family relationships, and how these tensions eventually lead to the adoption of skinhead culture by white nationalists. All of this is set to an awesome soundtrack featuring the likes of Toots and the Maytals, The Specials, Jimmy Cliff, and Soft Cell.
Der Spiegel asks if cultural tolerance is coming to an end in Germany as Pegida (“Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Occident”) keeps growing. 17,500 people gathered in the opera square in Dresden yesterday to protest against immigration and what they perceive as the “Islamisation” of Europe, an increase of 2,500 compared to last Monday—in a state with a Muslim population of less than 1 %. The organisers had planned to sing traditional Christmas carols in the light of the opera house. But the building stayed dark in response, and white flags were hoisted by the management, reading “Open your hearts. Open the doors. Human dignity is inviolable,” the latter a quote from the first paragraph of the German constitution. [more inside]
The land of fjords, trolls and vikings is a nation of 5 million people, and snow. Photographers like it, as do jumpers and skateboarders. Norway is pretty and has a long coastline due to the lovely crinkly edges, making it nice to sail in. There are islands such as the Lofoten archipelago, long train journeys, steep train journeys, the Northern Lights, ferry journeys that last 134 hours, road tunnels, cathedrals, more Aurora Borealis, mountains, lights, some skiing, sunrises and sunsets, cosy hotels, long walks and whales. And the Aurora. Their tourist board has an unfair advantage. Camping is nice, either with other people or on your own. Svalbard is quite north. Did we mention the scenery and Aurora?
It's KRAMPUS time! Krampus's stylization changes from region to region. Some Krampuses have many horns and many have no horns (but these may just not be mature). [more inside]
It is easy to think of woodlands as wild places, but in the UK and Europe, most have been carefully managed for centuries. If you visit an ancient woodland in Europe at this time of year, you may well see small areas where the trees are being cut down to the base, but the stumps left behind. This is likely to be part of a traditional woodland practice called coppicing. Until about 150 years ago, most deciduous woodlands in the UK were coppiced to produce wood for use in a variety of industries, but today coppicing is largely only practised for woodland conservation. [more inside]
Last year, Dr. Amaya Moro-Martin, an astrophysicist specializing in circumstellar disks and planetary systems, started a great deal of discussion in the astronomy community when she wrote an open letter to the Spanish Prime Minister explaining that she was leaving Spain because of the bizarrely oppressive bureaucratic policies of the Spanish government and their broken promises to scientific researchers. This year, she has written an opinion piece in Nature arguing that Europe's drastic research budget cuts are short-sighted. In response, the European Science Foundation (ESF) has threatened to sue her unless she retracts the statement that called an evaluation process supported by ESF "flawed".
Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis was engaged in 1897 as the restaurant reviewer of the Pall Mall Gazette, and his reviews of London restaurants are collected in Dinners and Diners: Where and How to Dine in London, available online from The Dictionary of Victorian London. Newnham-Davis was a bon vivant, amateur of the theatrical world, and man of parts, and his reviews were equal parts reminiscence of the conversation with his pseudonymous companions and recollections and reviews of his opulent and lengthy Victorian dinners. [more inside]
The Solace of Oblivion by Jeffrey Toobin [The New Yorker] "In Europe, the right to be forgotten trumps the Internet."
Bárðarbunga, an Icelandic volcano named after a Norse viking, is maybe going to erupt soon. Webcams are standing by.
Danube Revisited: Starting in 1958, Inge Morath dedicated years of her career to photographing daily life along the Danube River, which flows from Southern Germany to the edge of the Black Sea in Eastern Romania.... In early July, eight female photographers set out to follow Morath’s path along the Danube for five weeks.
The Spanish housing boom goes bust. "Some 65km from Madrid, in the quintessentially Spanish heart of a country riven by competing regional identities, Valdeluz – the notorious ciudad fantasma (ghost town) of the crisis – was conceived at the height of what is sometimes called Spain’s economic miracle. In a Catholic nation, whose faith has declined substantially during its three decades of democracy, there is an increasing reluctance to believe in miracles of any kind."