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17/07/2007

Magazine Roundup

The Economist | Die Weltwoche | asharq alawsat | Nepszabadsag | The New York Times | ResetDoc | Magyar Narancs | The Spectator | Elet es Irodalom | L`Espresso
| The New Yorker | Le Nouvel Observateur


The Economist 13.07.2007 (UK)

The shift to digital cinema has been in the cards for a long time now – but, as the Economist reports, it's upon us now. "A rapidly growing number of cinemas are going digital. Over 3,000 North American screens have been converted, nearly two-thirds of them in the past year. ...And Europe, which has trailed even further, should catch up thanks to a deal announced this month with two Hollywood studios."

More on the future of the cinema: major improvement in technology, the Economist claims, are about to usher in a 3D breakthrough. The cover story reports on the current economic boom in Europe, and in Germany in particular where the economic wonders and miseries merit two full articles.


Die Weltwoche 12.07.2007 (Switzerland)

Pierre Heumann has collected voices from Turkey that warn of the growing Islamisation in the country. "The AKP is deliberately filling administrative positions with conservative Islamic officials. The Islamists are influencing children, as a visit to one Istanbul school recently showed. In the classroom, one teacher says, 98 percent of new positions are being given to members of the Muslim teachers' union. 'Two-thirds of the freshly-named heads of school are paid-up members of the Islamic teachers' union.' As a result prayer sites are on the rise, pious rectors are opening up their rooms for prayers, and allowing vocational school pupils to cancel lessons for Friday prayers. During school holidays, pupils attend Koran schools financed by the mosques."


asharq alawsat 11.07.2007 (Saudi Arabia / UK)

Anisa Mukhaldi reports on the increasing use of Arabic satellite channels among immigrants in France - "a natural consequence of the cultural and social isolation in which they live" as one sociologist put it. "They have been settled in the banlieues and poor areas, where there is a lack of everything that might allow them to prosper. Cinemas, museums, libraries and operas are generally only found in city centres. This geographic isolation keeps them at an arm's length from intellectual and cultural life. When these immigrants flee to Arabic satellite channels, then they are also fleeing from the negative images the French media uses to portray them. Here they are only referred to in stereotypes and hackneyed cliches: terror, revolt, violence, law-breaking." (A recent study into media use by WDR television arrived at a more optimistic conclusion for Germany. At least here, the study claims, there can be no talk of a 'media ghetto'.)

Muhammad al-Mazdiwi enthusiastically reviews the book "Walter Benjamin. Le chiffonnier, l'ange et le petit bossu" by Jean-Michel Palmier. The book prompt him to look back at Benjamin's huge influence on progressive Arab intellectuals in the 70s and 80s. He concludes with the hope that a time will come when someone writes a book about the "Arab Walter Benjamin."


Nepszabadsag 07.07.2007 (Hungary)

The Hungarian Left has disappeared without a trace, writes sociologist Eszter Babarczy. "There is no political Left in Hungary any more, only left-wing slogans coming from the conservative camp. It's very disconcerting." And this isn't only the case for Hungary, Babarczy believes. "In the Western world. party agendas differ only in 'values' and a few symbolic questions, such as the position on abortion, the war in Iraq, the use of religious symbols in public spaces. Since the end of communism, doing politics with symbols has become popular here too, but they tend to be used to cover up what's actually happening in politics. Symbols are used to maintain emotional tension in debates about the where the crown of St. Steven should be located, about remembrance days, or through mutual finger pointing, he's a communist, he's an anti-Semite. But a discussion about what kind of a country we want to live in? This never happens."

The New York Times 15.07.2007 (USA)

Steven Erlanger, head of the New York Times office in Jerusalem, portrays a Hamas official who played a key role in seizing the Gaza Strip. "Khaled Abu Hilal, a thin, grizzled chain-smoker who sucks in tobacco smoke the way an emphysema patient sucks in oxygen... is a hated figure among many in the secular, nationalist Fatah; they think he is a heretic who helped set off the Gaza implosion."

The magazine features another fascinating portrait, of the Hollywood's acting teacher guru, Milton Katselas, who has discreetly introduced large numbers of famous actors to Scientology.


ResetDoc 16.07.2007 (Italy)

The new edition of Reset.doc is dedicated to Turkey. On July 22, elections take place there, following the unsuccessful presidential election and e-putsch. Yale professor of political science and philosophy Seyla Benhabib sees not only a fight erupting between laicite and Islam, but also one between the old and new elite: "The CHP, the Republican People's Party, is Atatürk’s old party and it represents the entire military, the civil service, the judiciary, and teachers. These are all the secular elements that built the Republic, and, if you want, their politics has a lot of Jacobinism in it – not in that they are not revolutionary, but that they believe the State to be everything, the Republic to be everything, and the individual to be nothing. And they feel extremely threatened ... The basis of the AK Party – which stands for Adalet and Kalkinma – is this petty bourgeoisie. It is not exactly the bourgeoisie, but the merchant class, very much oriented to middle-class values who are deeply anti-left, anti-communist people who believe in private property and who may have a piece of land as well as a house and a car. This new Anatolian bourgeoisie never played a role in Turkish politics, and was rather represented by the elite – either the big Istanbul bourgeoisie and industrialists, or the military. But now Anatolia has spoken."


Magyar Narancs 13.07.2007 (Hungary)

Hungarian State Secretary Gabor Szetey is the first member of the Hungarian government to publicly discuss his homosexuality - in his opening speech for the Gay and Lesbian Festival in Budapest. The press has lauded the 39-year-old as a hero. But the festival still ended with violence: Right-wing extremists attacked demonstrators in the homosexual parade. In an interview with Szilvia Szilagyi, Szetey says: "The faces and symbols of the anti-homosexuals at the 2007 parade were the same that caused problems in 2006. It is a small but loud right-wing radical group, whose members want to insult everyone... According to a survey by Szonda-Ipsos, 51 percent of those asked found my speech courageous and say it contributes to improving the situation of gays. But it is odd that it is so important to the conservatives that our neighbouring states deal properly with their Hungarian minorities, but they couldn't care less about equal rights in their own country."


The Spectator 14.07.2007 (UK)

Ross Clark nurtures imperial dreams. This time not of Rome, but rather the city-state of Venice, which must serve as reference for the booming metropolis of London, whose residents on average earn half as much again as their fellow English in the provinces. "London shares with Venice in its heyday a growing reputation, not as the most powerful city in the world, but as its best address... The world’s wealthy want to come to London now for the same reason that they wanted to go to Venice in the 14th century. It is, quite simply, the best place to do business."


Elet es Irodalom 13.07.2007 (Hungary)

Hungarian democracy is in serous danger, warns writer Peter Nadas in a long essay. The corrupt position of top politicians and high public officials weakens the trust of the people in democracy. Supporters of democracy among the politicians "evade taxes, put out false bills, pay their doctors on the black market, falsify official reports, pocket bribes and put illegal funds into party coffers. (...) The enemies of democracy have their own, similar logic: They fall back on laws in order to undermine democracy, and ultimately to put these same laws out of commission. And they, too, consume state funds for personal or party interests."


L`Espresso 13.07.2007 (Italy)

After the atheists fell silent in Italy following World War II and even the communists sought Catholic voters, now another open war has broken out, says Umberto Eco. "We are at the start of a process of action and reaction, though it remains unclear whether it was the Sanfedisti (who fought a counter-revolution for the alliance of throne and altar in around 1800) who lured out the anti-clericals or the other way around. At any rate, this phenomenon is evidenced in the political use of religion by fundamentalists of all sorts, from Washington to Tehran, in the unbelievable return of anti-Darwinian polemics and the frontal attack against the adopted relativism of modern science. Here, you see it more or less on Family Day."


The New Yorker 23.07.2007 (USA)

In a letter from Pakistan, William Dalrymple describes the three powers that are currently heckling General Musharraf: the civilian opposition, which demonstrated against the military regime in March with lawyers armed with umbrellas. Then the religious, who want to transform Pakistan's political path into a "system of the prophet." And then the Islamists who were occupying the red mosque until a few days ago. Is the middle class, including the lawyer Asma Jahangir, playing into the hands of the Islamists? The editor of the Post in Lahore writes: “Asma Jahangir is brave and fearless. She has stood up for all the right causes... But her political judgment is another matter. She is a supporter of democracy, right or wrong, and the situation in Pakistan is extremely complex at the moment. Will there be an Islamic revolution?" At the end of the article, the publisher of the Friday Times recalls a few famous idealists who solidly opposed the realists of their times.


Le Nouvel Observateur (France), 12.07.2007

Under the title of "Icons and Iron Lady," the Obs describes the unstoppable climb of the Maghreb-born French minister of justice Rachida Dati, who has turned into Nicolas Sarkozy's alter ego and whom many think of as a second Rastignac. "A genuine or a fearsome careerist? Authentic or razzle dazzle? Rarely has the rumour mill been so active. Rumours that classically are reserved for women, particularly when they are too attractive." Even the left-middle class Obs is really astonished that someone with this background ends up with such a career: "Rachida Dati, 41 years old, daughter of an Algerian bricklayer and a Moroccan housewife, with 11 siblings, raised in the Catholic school of Chalon-sur-Saone, student of law and economy, supported by scholarships and jobs, then becoming a judge; and now she is rediscovered in the form of Sarkozy's tough and witty spokesperson."

In addition, the magazine launches a summer series in which intellectuals of all walks of life talk about their craft and their work. The series starts with composer Pascal Dusapin, who is this year's "chaire de creation artistique" at the College de France. Among those coming up are: Italian director Francesco Rosi, American anthropologist Marshall Sahlins and Swiss critic Jean Starobinski.
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