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From the Feuilletons


17/04/2009

From the Feuilletons

Süddeutsche Zeitung 11.04.2009

Sonja Zekri pays a visit to Kyrgyzstan, the state which hit the headlines in February, when it bowed to Russsian pressure and announced that it would be closing a key US airbase situated there (news story). It's a pretty place, but there's not a lot going on: "Kyrgyzstan, this blind spot between Moscow and Tehran, Kabul and Shanghai. Kyrgyzstan has no oil, no gas, no high tech and no high potentials, at least very few that stay. It just has itself. Aquamarine lakes, mountains under eternal ice, 93 percent of the land is unfit for development, but it's geopolitical hotspot."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
14.04.2009

Aldo Keel reports that Norway is to introduce general conscription for women next year, and that Denmark and Sweden are also considering this delicate move towards equality: "Experience in Africa and Afghanistan, where women are reluctant to communicate with unfamiliar men, shows how important women officers can be for intelligence gathering and troop security. In an article for the Oslo Aftenposten, however, a retired woman major criticised the 'male climate right through to misogyny' that continues to rule in officer circles. And the emphasis that remains on camaraderie rather than professionalism."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
14.04.2009

Andreas Rossmann reports on his visit, that took place under almost conspiratorial conditions, to the "emergency clinic" for material pulled from the wreckage of the Cologne City Archive which collapsed last month: "No one knows when or what will be back in place or restored, or when the stocks will be housed under one roof again and accessible to the public. The collapse has left the archive in chaos, all order overturned... It may take twenty, even thirty years, one archivist estimated, before the archive, even with the huge losses it has sustained, is returned to its pre-disaster state. Only then will the head be returned to the body."

Dietmar Bartz spent four days dispensing first aid to files rescued from the rubble in Cologne. His diary entry, printed in the taz on April 15, read: "At the local security authorities on Wednesday, I had to sign an oath of secrecy, not only for data protection reasons: the city also prohibits 'the writing of any articles for the press' as well as all photography. And all information given to the media has to be approved first."


Berliner Zeitung
16.04.2009

"Fear-induced vomiting is a fine and splendid thing, particularly if it doesn't prevent artists from going on stage," writes Daniela Pogade, on what would have been the 80th birthday of Jacques Brel. The late Belgian singer-songerwriter once said that that stage fright made him throw up three times a day."


Die Welt 16.04.2009

"Best building in the Bundesrepublik," declares Rainer Haubrich, in reference to architect Sep Ruf's Kanzlerbungalow in Bonn which is now open to the public following renovation. A symptomatic building: "This was the birthplace of that hackneyed topos which determined that architecture is only democratic if it is 'open and transparent'. And it features a number of details that prefigure the sort of dwarfism that eventually became a monument to post-war architecture (the low porch roof and the round concrete tubs clustered below speak volumes)."


Jungle World 16.04.2009

The leftist weekly, Jungle World, focusses on the UN's Durban Review conference on racism and related intolerance which opens next week in Geneva. For Lukas Lambert, the preparations confirm the worst: the UN doesn't give a damn about human rights. "The countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have been using their majority in the Human Rights Council for several years now, to pass a number of resolutions to combat so-called 'defamation of religions'. These 56 states demand that religions, and primarily Islam, should be recognised as the bearer of human rights, whose 'violation', for instance through 'insulting images', should be pursued and prosecuted. In the same context they demand 'voluntary' limits on press freedom. The council passed a resolution to this effect just two weeks ago, giving the persecution of opposition figures and minorities in dictatorial states the UN's blessing one more time."


Die Zeit
16.04.2009

Germany's most famous feminist, Alice Schwarzer, goes to town in the politics section. Why, she asks, is the media turning a blind eye to the fact that in the school shooting in Winnenden last month, eleven of the twelve victims were female. "What would have happened, I found myself asking two days after the massacre, if Tim K. had gunned down eleven Turkish kids and one of their German friends in the classroom. The answer is simple: all hell would have broken loose! Any halfway critical reporter or journalist would not only have drawn attention to this fact but they would also pursue it. And draw conclusions, such as making the connection between the perpetrators and the social climate in which xenophobia exists – which perhaps not surprisingly precipitates into such forms as its most extreme."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
16.04.2009

In Budapest, Hubert Spiegel talked to Hungarian writers Peter Nadas (more) and Peter Esterhazy (more), who both see their as country embroiled in a deep-reaching crisis. Peter Nadas, in particular, cannot find the least grounds for optimism: "If it were not so tragic, I would describe it as farcical. Nothing has changed, we live in the old structures, the political parties are unaccountable, there is no functioning middle-class, let alone a bourgeoisie, no sense of responsibility. Responsibility means nothing in this country – except the responsibility  for scraping together as much as possible for your own purse and your own family as soon as you land a position that enables you to do so."
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