Category Archives: Europe

Political thuggery on the right, U.S. & Greece


Trump blows his horn again

We begin in the U.S., with two of the usual suspects, starting with this from the Guardian:

Donald Trump veered off the teleprompter on Monday night to claim that “inner cities run by the Democrats” were more dangerous than countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Republican nominee was meant to be delivering a scripted speech calling for Hillary Clinton be investigated by a special prosecutor. However, once again he veered off message in an attempt to appeal to minority voters in apocalyptic terms.

“You can go to war zones in countries that we are fighting and it is safer than living in some of our inner cities that are run by the Democrats,” Trump said. The Republican nominee also promised if elected, “we’ll get rid of the crime. You’ll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Now, you walk down the street, you get shot.”

A ZioCon Joe McCarthy brandishes a list

Sen Joe McCarthy became infamous for his self-aggrandizing Red Hunts during the early 1950’s, most famous brandishing a list with the names of 57 alleged secret communists in the State Department

From the Guardian again, the second of the usual U.S. suspects, this time deploying that nasty little trick of publishing a list, this time affixing the antisemite label on anyone who opposes Israeli government actions [a label that’s been attached to esnl for the same reason]:

Sheldon Adelson, the Nevada casino mogul and conservative mega-donor, is leading a campaign against pro-Palestine groups on US college campuses and has funded posters that accuse individual students of supporting terrorism and promoting “Jew Hatred”.

The multimillion-dollar effort, which has launched at six campuses in California, is targeting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that has become increasingly popular among American university students protesting the Israeli government.

At the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), recent Adelson-funded posters named 16 students and professors, saying they “have allied themselves with Palestinian terrorists to perpetuate BDS and Jew Hatred on this campus”. It further claimed BDS was a “Hamas-inspired genocidal campaign to destroy Israel”.

Robert Gardner, a 25-year-old UCLA senior, saw his name on one of the posters outside a grocery market. “I was really shocked and felt really disturbed,” he said.

“They are trying to cast us as antisemitic, that we are somehow a discriminatory group,” said the political science student, who is a member of the college’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organization. “That is a completely spurious accusation. One of our core principles is anti-oppression and anti-racism.”

And a thuggish Greek legislator steps it up

And on to Greece, with a neo-Nazi national legislator joining the fray [literally], via eKathimerini:

Golden Dawn deputy Constantinos Barbarousis has been implicated, along with a relative and at least three other men, in a violent beating of a police officer at a coffee shop in the village of Fiteies in the region of Aetoloacarnania in central Greece Monday.

According to reports, the incident followed an altercation between one of the extreme-right lawmaker’s relatives and the officer over a traffic violation earlier in the day.

The policeman was off duty when he was attacked by his assailants, who, according to witnesses, pulled up outside the cafe in two cars, with Barbarousis and four other men inside. All five barged into the shop and attacked the victim using clubs, brass knuckles and bats.

The officer suffered head injuries and required stitches, while his brother and a friend, who were also present during the incident, suffered light injuries.

He’s back. . .Sarkozy to run against Hollande


The loathsome former French president, defeated by the nearly equally loathsome socialist-in-name-only François Hollande four years ago, wants his old job back.

Sarkozy, the man who implemented purge of the county’s Roma and Sinti residents [gypsies in common parlance], has a good chance, given that Hollande has been unable to ease the country’s economic plight.

Hollande has proven equally eager to go to war as his predecessor, but without the zealous bombast Sarkozy brings to the table.

From France 24:

France’s former leader Nicolas Sarkozy announced on Monday that he is running again to become president in next year’s elections.

“I have decided to be a candidate for the 2017 presidential election. I felt I had the strength to lead this battle at a troubled time in our history,” Sarkozy wrote in an excerpt of his upcoming book “Everything for France” (“Tout pour la France”) posted on his social media accounts.

“The five years that come will be full of danger, but also of hope,” he added.

Sarkozy, 61, served as president from 2007 to 2012, when he lost re-election to the now deeply unpopular President François Hollande.

A hyperactive and divisive figure both loved and loathed among right-wing voters, Sarkozy did not say whether he would join his conservative Les Républicains party (formerly the UMP) primaries scheduled for November.

Chevron’s malignant legacies in Ecuador, Bay Area


In the second of three programs on the brutal policies of a global oil giant [first part here], Abby Martin looks at the lethal pollution of Ecuador’s land and water by an American oil giant, a bizarre U.S. court ruling made by a judge who owns stock in the company, the the firm’s heavy-handed politics in Richmond, California.

During our six years at the Berkeley Daily Planet, we covered environmental politics in nearby Richmond, one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s poorest communities, and watched as Chevron Texaco fought to control city council elections to ensure that operations at the company’s massive refinery were unhindered by council members’ concerns about dangers to the health and safety of their constituents.

Martin lived nearby and saw firsthand how the company spared no expense in courts and in political and public relations campaigns, and we’re glad that the issue will gain wider exposure through her efforts.

And now, one with the shot.

From teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Chevron vs. the Amazon – The Environmental Trial of the Century

Program files:

In Part II of this three-part series, The Empire Files continues the investigation into the battle between Chevron Texaco and Ecuador.

In this installment, Abby Martin uncovers what really happened throughout the 22-year legal battle between the oil corporation and indigenous Amazonians, interviewing lead attorney for the case, Pablo Fajardo.

This episode also chronicles the shameful, scandalous history of Chevron Texaco—from the support of Hitler’s Nazi movement, to backing war crimes in Myanmar—and its retaliatory attacks against its victims.

Graphic Representation: Politics, with art & music


Today’s graphic offerings look at American politics from the other side of the pond.

Our first offering, from the Guardian, translates an Olympic phenomenon and takes it to the political arena:

Ben Jennings: The cupping of Uncle Sam

BLOG Eurotoon Jennings Trump

And the Independent watches The Donald’s transformation:

Dave Brown: Lighter than air

BLOG Eurotoon Bronw Trump

Finally, from the Guardian once again:

Martin Rowson: Celebrating Syrian airstrikes

BLOG Eurotoon Rowson Syria

We love European cartoonists, in part because their works so often reference great artists of the past.

In this last case, Rowson is playing on a remarkable image created by a German artist in the wake of a succession of continent-wide sieges of bubonic plague the century before which had killed about 80 percent of the population of his country. Smaller outbreaks were still continuing at the time a German artist created one of the most memorable images in the history of art:

Danse macabre by Michael Wolgemut, teacher of Albrecht Dürer, from folio CCLXI recto of Hartman Schedel’s Historia mundi, printed in Nuremberg in 1493.

Danse macabre by Michael Wolgemut, teacher of Albrecht Dürer, from folio CCLXI recto of Hartman Schedel’s Historia mundi, printed in Nuremberg in 1493.

The Danse macabre was a frequent motif in Medieval art, with the earliest known instance appearing in a Paris cemetery in 1424, and it has stopped fascinating artists since.

One artist inspired by the dance of death was French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, and his work is one you’re already familiar with, because you’ve heard it on the soundtrack of countless movies.

Saint-Saëns took his inspiration from the poem by Henri Cazalis [1840-1909], translated thusly by Wikipedia:

Zig, zig, zig, Death in cadence,
Striking with his heel a tomb,
Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
Zig, zig, zig, on his violin.
The winter wind blows and the night is dark;
Moans are heard in the linden-trees.
Through the gloom, white skeletons pass,
Running and leaping in their shrouds.
Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking.
The bones of the dancers are heard to crack-
But hist! of a sudden they quit the round,
They push forward, they fly; the cock has crowed.

Forthwith, and from the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, Euege Ormandy conducting:

Camille Saint-Saëns – Danse Macabre


You can also hear it played by a classical guitar trio, a Finnish accordion maestro, a bass clarinet quartet [and damn, those clarinets are YUGE], and a Korean viola quartet, all all-saxophone orchestra, and a 1930’s Argentine jazz band [grooovy].

Finally, the Danse Macabre itself [not the Saint-Saëns version] also attracted the attention of Walt Disney’s animators way back in 1929.

Enjoy [via Geoffroy Biencourt]:

Silly Symphonies – La Danse Macabre

Headline of the day: NRA dollars to follow?


From Deutsche Welle:

Call-to-arms by German populist right AfD

Populist right wing AfD party co-leader Fraucke Petry has encouraged Germans to carry firearms. She claims government has lost its state monopoly to protect the public, especially in thinly populated areas.

Headline of the day II: Great cultural watershed?


From The Local.se:

Sex pigs halt traffic after laser attack on Pokémon teens

California history, marketed as a teardown home


There’s a house for sale in Pacific Palisades, one of the most exclusive communities in the Los Angeles area. It’s located at 1550 San Remo Drive, just a two-minute drive from the house at 1669 San Onofre Drive, where esnl interviewed Nancy Reagan in 1979 as her husband was running for president.

The home on San Remo is now up for sale and the asking price is a mere $14,995,000. Here’s how the broker, Coldwell Banker, describes the property [emphasis added]:

First time on the market in almost 65 years! Park-like grounds with lush forest solitude on almost a full FLAT ACRE on one of the most desired streets in the Pacific Palisades Riviera. Extreme privacy surrounded by mature trees and landscaping provides amazing serenity coupled with incredible city lights views. Create your dream estate or remodel and expand the existing home in the ultra-exclusive upper Riviera neighborhood. It’s like living in your own private reserve!

There’s only one thing missing from the enthusiastic sales pitch.

Unlike the Reagan’s home, which was a gift from General Electric, given to the future president in 1955 as a reward for Reagan’s role as a corporate shill after his cinematic career hit the skids, the home on San Remo was built and paid for by the labors of Thomas Mann, the Nobel Prize-winning author of some of the most important works of fiction of the 20th Century.

The artist in exile

Mann had fled Hitler’s Germany to take up residence in the United States, settling into his new home in the Palisades to do what he did best, write.

It was within these walls that he created what may be arguably his finest work, Doctor Faustus, a powerful novel encompassing the trends of the early 20th Century that gave rise to fascism.

As playwright and poet Sean O’Brien wrote in an essay on the novel for the Independent:

It is a novel of ideas of a kind rarely found in English, but sees thought and art as inseparable from character. It is in a sense the story of the early 20th century in the light of Fascism and modernism, yet neither history nor the individual is sacrificed to allegory.

Mann at work in his Pacific Palisades study. Mann at work in his Pacific Palisades study, via the Literaturarchiv und Bibliothek in Munich..

Mann at work in his Pacific Palisades study. Mann at work in his Pacific Palisades study, via the Literaturarchiv und Bibliothek in Munich..

The media take note

But now Coldwell Banker is peddling it as a teardown, valuable mainly for the land it occupies.

From today’s Los Angeles Times:

Although the language in the listing — “Create your dream estate or remodel and expand the existing home in the ultra-exclusive upper Riviera neighborhood” — hedges its bets a bit, Joyce Rey, the agent representing the seller, was more direct in a phone interview, saying she had a hard time imagining that any potential buyers would be interested in its history.

“The value is in the land,” she said. “The value is not really in the architecture, I would say.”

>snip<

The house is not one of L.A.’s official historic-cultural monuments, though it is listed as a “historic resource” in a larger inventory called SurveyLA. A new citywide ordinance requires that owners seeking to demolish houses older than 45 years provide notice to neighbors and the local city council office at least 30 days in advance. But in general there are limited protections for most residential buildings in Los Angeles, even those with notable architectural pedigrees.

Rey said the seller, whom she declined at least for the time being to identify, was not interested in opening the house to preservationists or journalists.

The home is notable in its own right, designed for Mann by fellow German emigre J.R. Davidson, one of the seminal figures in creating the L.A. style of architecture that resulted in some of the region’s most influential designs of the mid-20th Century.

He was first to create homes with floor to ceiling windows and sliding glass doors, features that would become virtually standard in California’s temperate climate.

Mann and his family outside their San Remo Drive home. Source.

Mann and his family outside their San Remo Drive home. Source.

Reaction from Germany comes fast and furious

Needless to say, the German cultural community is outraged. All of Mann’s European homes have been spared the wrecking ball and are revered as national landmarks, a designation which somehow was never sought for his home on the California coast.

Deutsche Welle reports:

Despite the home’s outward appearance, Jürgen Kaumkötter, curator of the recently founded Center for Persecuted Arts in Solingen#, says the villa should be saved at all costs. He’s gone so far as to demand that the German government buy the property in order to prevent the demolition of this historical house.

“The building could serve as a meeting ground for young writers,” Kaumkötter said, “perhaps in combination with the Villa Aurora (the former home of German-Jewish novelist and playwright Lion Feuchtwanger)” If Germany wants to have an international outlook, it should also provide some room for critical thinkers.

That view is echoed by Jürgen Serke, a Hamburg-based collector of art and literature and the author of “Die verbrannten Dichter” (“Burned poets”). He thinks German Culture Minister Monika Grütters should give the idea some thought; in his view, there is plenty of money to finance this proposal. He believes a demolition of the villa would be a great shame for Germany, with Mann being the most significant German author of the 20th century.

>snip<

The lawyer who purchased the house from the Mann couple when they returned to Europe in 1952 knew quite well that what he had bought was an important site for German culture and intellectual history. He marked the spot with a bronze plaque featuring a profile of Thomas Mann, explaining in English and German the significance of the home.

In Los Angeles, land in rich enclaves like the Palisades is often “worth: more than the homes occupying it, and some of the city’s greatest and most significant houses and other buildings have fallen to the wrecking ball.

To allow Mann’s home to follow that same tragic trajectory would nothing less than sinful.