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12/09/2006

Magazine Roundup

Die Weltwoche | L'Express | Folio | The Guardian | The New York Times Book Review | Merkur | Der Spiegel | Radar | Le Monde | Al Ahram Weekly | Il Foglio | Elet es Irodalom | The New Yorker


Die Weltwoche, 07.09.2006 (Switzerland)

Tom Parfitt was the first Western journalist to be allowed to accompany Moscow's new governor in Chechnya - the 29-year old Ramsan Kadyrov, son of the murdered ex-president Ahmed Kadyrov. "Why is he popular among the people? He laughs. 'Because I make things happen and stand for peace. The only ones against me are the enemies of peace.' Nicely put. The only problem is: Kadyrow is a gangster. His militia, the Kadyrovzy, bribe, kidnap, torture and murder... Kadyrov's populist tendencies have earned him the respect of some Chechens. Indeed, a certain stability has been established, the number of kidnappings is going down, parts of Grosny are being rebuilt. But nonetheless, Kadyrov could become so powerful that is no longer willing to march to Moscow's drum."


L'Express, 07.09.2006 (France)

L'Express features an interview with Milana Terloeva, whose memoirs "Danser sur les ruines" of her childhood and youth in Chechnya are about to appear. Today 26 years old, she lives in a little village near Grosny; three years ago she did a student exchange programme in Paris and would like to return there soon. In the interview, she speaks of how she experienced communism and war in her own country and how little the French knew about where she comes from. Of her experience in the West, she writes, "In the former Soviet Union, we didn't talk about Europe or the Gulags or the Shoah. It was only in France that I discovered 'Night' by Elie Wiesel and the books of Primo Levi... I'm torn between the two countries. In Paris, I've made contacts that will be significant for life. But Chechnya is my homeland, my own hell. I want to report from there so that France doesn't give up on us. It is important that the Chechens know that we are not alone in the world. I would like to found an independent youth magazine. And finally, my family is there. I know that I am bringing them in danger. But can I stay and do nothing?"


Folio, 04.09.2006 (Switzerland)

In a thrilling article, Daniel Weber takes a look at private military companies like Blackwater, Dyncorp and Erinys, which have been doing good business in the Iraq war, with annual turnovers of a hundred billion dollars. "Private soldiers are acting in a legal grey zone, they are neither soldiers nor civilians. This explains why, since the beginning of the war in Iraq, not a single private soldier has been charged with or found guilty of a crime. Not even in the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib. The soldiers that were involved in that scandal were put before a military court and condemned. The investigation of the US army revealed that in Abu Ghraib, even translators and interrogation specialists of American military companies like Titan and CACI were active in the torture. But so far, nobody has been charged or punished."


The
Guardian, 09.09.2006 (UK)

In a long essay on September 11, the writer Martin Amis sees a formidable era of horror on its way. "The age of terror, I suspect, will also be remembered as the age of boredom. Not the kind of boredom that afflicts the blasé and the effete, but a superboredom, rounding out and complementing the superterror of suicide-mass murder. And although we will eventually prevail in the war against terror, or will reduce it, as Mailer says, to 'a tolerable level' (this phrase will stick, and will be used by politicians, with quiet pride), we haven't got a chance in the war against boredom. Because boredom is something that the enemy doesn't feel. To be clear: the opposite of religious belief is not atheism or secularism or humanism. It is not an 'ism'. It is independence of mind - that's all. When I refer to the age of boredom, I am not thinking of airport queues and subway searches. I mean the global confrontation with the dependent mind."


The New York Times Book Review, 10.09.2006 (USA)

In his book on the murder of the Dutch film director Theo van Gogh ("Murder in Amsterdam"), Ian Buruma explores the limits of tolerance. Christopher Caldwell has read it. "Buruma interviews two charismatic reformers: van Gogh's collaborator Hirsi Ali and the Iranian-born legal scholar Afshin Ellian. Both believe that nothing short of dragging Islam through the wringer of skepticism and ridicule, as Voltaire and other Enlightenment philosophers did Catholicism, will suffice to disarm potential militants like Bouyeri. But Buruma is skeptical. He suspects that many of those who invoke the Enlightenment are merely defending a conservative order. 'Voltaire had flung his insults at the Catholic Church,' he writes, 'while Ayaan risked offending only a minority that was already feeling vulnerable in the heart of Europe.' That is unfair. Voltaire did not risk, with his every utterance, making a billion enemies who recognized his face and could, via the Internet, share information instantaneously with people who aspired to assassinate him. We need a much more flexible definition of the word 'minority' in a world thus networked."


Merkur, 11.09.06 (Germany)

Paul Nolte takes a look at Germany's new class society which has developed not only as a result of greater social inequality, different opportunities and a privatisation of the individual's status. "This is not simply a new social-economic polarisation or an enrichment of capitalists and pauperisation of the poor. In this affluent society, influenced greatly by lifestyle, consumption and cultural habitus, the class society forms increasingly into culture classes in specific lifestyle segments which are defined increasingly by cultural resources, behavioural style and educational competence rather than just income. 'Lower class television' became a media metaphor for this new lack of privelege but the debate was also conducted over class-specific violence, language instruction or the loss of elementary parental competence in child-raising and career. The reality of the new class society has been coming at us for the last three, four years from Die Zeit, Tagesspiegel, the FAZ and since Gerhard Schröder's Agenda 2010, it has been defining the political agenda as well as the politics of reform."


Der Spiegel, 11.09.2006 (Germany)

Spiegel offers a preview of Gabor Steingart's new book "Weltkrieg um Wohlstand" (Global war for wealth). In it, the chief of the magazine's Berlin bureau warns of the dangers of globalisation. "The West still has no means to analyse the threat. In the hour of challenge, enemies and friends are united in error. Fans of globalisation believe that they can expand their sales domains risk-free with the help of global capital markets. Many think that those behind the processes are automatically winners. Opponents to globalisation see the world with the same eyes but through lenses of a different colour. The internationally integrated economy still means for them, exploitation of the third world. The states of the West are the ones that profit, as if by natural law. In reality, winners and losers have traded roles in the war for wealth. The new strengthening of Asia leads to a weakening of the West."

In a probing interview, Annette Großbongardt and Daniel Steinvorth talk with writer Feridun Zaimoglu about a bus accident he was in in Turkey where twelve people were killed, and he himself escaped death by a close shave. "It was the oddest thing. I didn't feel any fear at all, everything was strangely easy. So easy that I thought, this must be death, it's all over. The survivors called out 'Allahü ekber,' God is great, and began to pray. I too said the Islamic profession of faith. I'm not religious, but I do believe."


Radar, 10.09.2006 (Argentina)

"I don't think tango is having a resurgence these days. All that's thriving is the tango business." Rodolfo Mederos, one of the foremost tango musicians, is not at all optimistic about either the present or the future of tango. "Tango is in a state of rigor mortis. It was buried alive, and now we can hear it knocking from under the earth. But it's under so much rubble that we don't even know how to uncover it, we haven't got the right tools." This is "because you can't find any more half-decent bandoneons any more. And the few that do exist have become too expensive for locals because of tango tourism." Among other people, Mederos holds Astor Piazzola responsible. "He made tango into an elitist, isolated activity, and narrowed the tradition down to himself."


Le Monde, 09.09.2006 (France)

In an interview, American photo reporter Stanley Greene calls racism in America a "lurking monster aroused by the slightest provocation." Greene, who became known for his documentations of the war in Chechnya and recently Iraq, is currently showing photos of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, as part of the festival Visa pour l'image. Katrina, Greene says, only boosted the widespread racism in the United States. With his latest pictures from New Orleans he is seeking to expose the cynicism of the reconstruction measures. "The same people are still sitting in the same shit. The aim is not to bring the people back, but to make New Orleans a lucrative, white city. It was built by slaves, as opposed to Baton Rouge in Louisiana, which was founded by the Confederates. A lot of Americans see New Orleans as a sort of Gomorrah. For them the flooding is just a means to get rid of prostitution, crime and drugs, and boost investment. The place is full of real estate advertisements. The investors are searching for the owners of the destroyed houses, which they then buy up for 10,000 dollars. Katrina is the biggest scam of all times."


Al Ahram Weekly, 07.09.2006 (Egypt)

Abdel-Moneim Said seems unconcerned that Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz's idea of a free, independent humanity will disappear with his death. "Even until his death, Mahfouz did not realise the change in the universe. He was in a coma when scientists announced the departure of Pluto from the solar system, and even when he was at the height of consciousness he was absent, like all of his generation, from current global changes. Simply put, the ideas of independence, individuality, national character, and specific cultural expressions essentially mean isolation from the world and separation from it because it seems an expression of various degrees of material and moral pollution. It is surprising that the Arab world has become hostage to two projects, each based upon globalisation. One is represented by the United States with the goal of integrating the Arab world through the new Greater Middle East. Various forms of Islamic fundamentalism that view the world, and not the Arab state, as their primary stage, represent the second. Between these two projects, Mahfouz's primary project stopped breathing."


Il Foglio, 09.09.2006 (Italy)

The new Rome Film Fest kicks off October 13, a cultural super-coup by Rome's mayor Walter Veltroni. Marianna Rizzini portrays Veltroni as a man of action, who according to Pigi Battista is "Simon & Garfunkel, Kennedy, Africa, Ian McEwan all rolled into one. Veltroni takes things and gives them a once-over, and turns a tragic story into a gallery of saints. But his model works. He embodies the essence of post-modernity. He has set up a system of symbolic referencing in politics, comprising fiction, singing, cinema and books. Veltroni has understood that those are the true sources of moderate politics. In fact the only other person to have understood it on the same scale is Berlusconi, and in France Nicolas Sarkozy."


Elet es Irodalom, 08.09.2006 (Hungary)

Author Gabor T. Szanto writes an obituary for the poet György Faludy: "For 96 years he lived in various countries, for the longest time in Hungary, England and Canada. He wrote thousands of poems, and left an enormous body of literary translation. He was a non-practising Jew and free-thinking Hungarian. An outstanding connoisseur of the literary and intellectual history of Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the poetry of Sufism and ancient China, as well as that of today. He loved women and men, he was homeless in time and space and homesick at all times. A man of the 20th century Diaspora, a man whose library card was his sole ID."


The New Yorker, 18.09.2006 (USA)

The Dutch author and journalist Ian Buruma sums up the debate over Günter Grass (more here) and reviews Grass' "extraordinary" memoirs "Beim Häuten der Zwiebel" (peeling the onion). The scandal surrounding the book has hidden its "rare literary beauty," Buruma writes. "Günter Grass is one of the last examples of a German tradition that puts poets and thinkers on a high pedestal, from which they deliver, like prophets, their verdicts on the world. There are times, certainly, when the writer can use his moral authority to good effect: Thomas Mann during the war, Grass after the war. At other times, the very things that make a man such as Grass a great novelist—the capacity to turn experience into myth, for example—can be obstacles to cogent political analysis."
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