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27/03/2012

Magazine Roundup

El Pais Semanal 24.03.2012 (Spain)

"Book publishing is like roulette." Beatriz de Moura co-founder and still head of the big Spanish publishing house Tusquets Editores, talks to Jesús Ruiz Mantilla about the past and the future of the printed book: "The best inventions survive. In the course of our history human beings have proved to be far cleverer that we thought. They always took care not to lose any of the good things along the way." Tusquets was also one of the first literary publishers in Spain to take the plunge into erotic literature, with their series "The Vertical Smile". "Yes you can call them porn if you like, but these books are well written and there is much to learn from them. Men tend to be rather inhibited about them but women are completely upfront about reading them in public with an openness that is most refreshing."


Le Monde 23.03.2012 (France)

As much as philosopher Abdennour Bidar agrees with the Islamic dignitaries who emphasised the difference between Islam and Islamism in the wake of Mohammed Merah's killings, he does not shy away, in Le Monde, from confronting Islam with difficult questions: "Can the Islamic religion as a whole be exonerated from this form of radical deed? Or put another way: No matter how sizeable and unbridgeable the distance that separates this crazed killer from the mass of peaceful and tolerant Muslims, is this act not an extreme expression of a disease of Islam itself?"


Polityka 23.03.2012 (Poland)

On the 70th anniversary of the start of Operation Reinhard Marcin Kolodziejczyk writes about (here in German) the railways and death camps in Belzec and their obscene perfection. "The first 'Sonderzug' (special train) from Lublin rolled into Belzec on the morning of 17 March 1942. The second, from Lviv, arrived that evening. After that, two transports came in every day, and in summer and autumn this rose to three – each with several dozen wagons filled with people of all ages. In the train company's freight documents these trains were mostly labelled with the initials PJ for Polish Jews, although the trains would also carry Western European or Hungarian Jews. In the nine months it existed, almost half a million Jews were killed in this little camp. The general management of the German Eastern Rail (Ostbahn) transported the Jews at reduced, bulk-freight rates  – children under five free of charge, the elderly at half-price. The SS collected the money from the passengers – mostly after they were murdered: the cash, jewelry and gold teeth were all duly registered in the Operation Reinhard bank account.


Elet es Irodalom 26.03.2012 (Hungary)

The friendship between the Poles and the Hungarians goes back a long way. After events on 15 March, Hungary's national day, Polish Studies specialist Miklos Mitrovits sees this friendship under threat. Some 2,000 Poles – faithful PiS supporters and readers of the ultra-right weekly Gazeta Polska used to occasion to join the Hungarian government's demonstration and pledge their support for Viktor Orban. The friendship is being instrumentalised for nationalist and anti-European interests, writes Mitrovits: "It is certainly unusual for other nationals to take part in our national day celebrations. It is more unusual still for these nationals to express their support for a foreign government in this way. After all, governments come and go, but the friendship and sympathy between peoples should not be dependent on any particular political direction. Aside from the parodical aspects of their involvement and the East European absurdity that had these demonstrators supported the opposition, the government would be making statements about provocation and 'foreign intervention in our affairs' – such actions testify to complete ignorance of the other and of political demagoguery."

Salon.eu.sk 19.03.2012 (Slovakia in English)

Tensions have arisen between Poland and Hungary, and the Polish left is keeping an anxious eye on Viktor Orban, who is becoming increasingly popular in Poland. Celebrations on 23 March, Polish-Hungarian friendship day, proceeded as usual, in line with decisions in both parliaments. The "touching unanimity of the two parliaments" prompted Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki to rework an old Polish adage in Przekroj (translated into English by salon.eu.sk). Instead of "the Hungarian and the Pole, always friendly / jointly riding, jointly drinking. Boisterous and joyous both / may God bless their souls', it should read: 'the Hungarian and the Pole / always friendly/ jointly voting, jointly drinking. Depressed and joyless both / may the cross in the Sejm bless their souls.' I understand the Hungarians have also put up a cross in their parliament although I don't know the circumstances under which it was installed. To be honest, the only hanging cross that has aroused my emotions was the one at a McDonald's on the motorway from Vienna to Budapest. It's not that I don't like crosses or don't support them. Quite the contrary. I do like and support crosses. I even have to confess that I'm sometimes tempted to prostrate myself in front of a cross when in company. But there was something particularly touching about the cross that was hanging above the rubbish bin next to the containers with ketchup and mustard. The Hungarians obviously see the cross differently from the Poles but they are our brethren nevertheless ..."


Stories from the Anglophone press:

New York Magazine examines the very big problem the Republican party has with women. Ian McEwan reflects on originality and collaboration in art and science for the Guardian. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a new debate about Naom Chomsky's universal grammar, sparked by the linguist Daniel Everett. Interviewed in Slate, Chomsky dismisses it: human nature doesn't change. The New Yorker portrays the British equivalent of Fox News: The Daily Hate, er, Mail. In OpenDemocracy Ahmed Baldawi shines some light on the labyrinthine Egyptian power relations. Wired has its eye on the new NSA spy center in Utah, which has its eye on you.
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