Belgium

Soccer and Human Trafficking
June 08, 2010

There’s a lot of happy talk about how this World Cup will aid the cause of Africa soccer. I hope that’s the case. In the meantime, I highly recommend Spiegel’s excellent piece on how the European soccer economy has sunk its tentacles into the continent. A sample of the piece's ugly findings: More than 10 years ago, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights issued a report warning that "a modern 'slave trade' is being created with young African players." In Belgium, the politician Jean-Marie Dedecker investigated 442 cases of alleged human trafficking with Nigerian players.

THE PICTURE: Time in Milwaukee
March 31, 2010

Richard and Erna Flagg were married in Frankfurt, Germany in 1932. Richard was Jewish, the son of a wealthy businessman. Erna was Protestant; her father, Bernhard Zubrod, was an architect. I had not heard of the Flaggs until a couple of years ago, when I first visited the Milwaukee Art Museum, and found myself lingering over a display of sixteenth and seventeenth-century clocks, fantastically intricate creations, which the Flaggs gave to the museum in the early 1990s.

High Speed Rail: A Social Cohesion Strategy for the U.S.?
March 09, 2010

When President Obama unveiled his budget allocation for high-speed rail, he said, “In France, high-speed rail has pulled regions from isolation, ignited growth [and], remade quiet towns into thriving tourist destinations.” His remarks emphasize how high-speed rail is increasing the accessibility of isolated places as an argument for similarly investments.

"Europe ought to buy Greece and make it the federal capital"
January 05, 2010

Greece is a joke. It is also a mess. And it is about to screw up Europe. Not that Europe is at all in good shape either. Anyway, the proposal comes from a quite coherent letter to Tuesday's Financial Times. As you can see from the headline above, the writer wants Greece to replace Belgium as the seat of Europe. But, then, what will happen to Belgium, whose only national assets are the lace industry, chocolate, and the bronze Mannekin Pis spraying his urine into a Brussels street.

Perfect Strangers
December 16, 2009

In the popular imagination, the United States and Europe are assumed to be radically opposing poles--"Mars" and "Venus"--on issues such as market regulation, public education, social policy, health care, crime, and the environment. But is that really the case? The numbers would suggest otherwise. My book, The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe are Alike, presents quantifiable data on a wide array of social conditions on each side of the Atlantic.

The Accelerating Decline Of Europe
November 23, 2009

There were two high points in the career of Tony Blair.

Portents
November 10, 2009

Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West By Christopher Caldwell (Doubleday, 422 pp., $30)   As its subtitle makes clear, this is a book about immigration, Islam, and the West. But at the same time this is also a book about a particular moral culture, a set of attitudes, habits, and beliefs that has developed in Western Europe over the past sixty years. There isn’t a good shorthand way to describe this moral culture. Sometimes it is called “political correctness,” though politics as such does not define it.

Selves
July 15, 2009

The Beaches of Agnes--Cinema Guild The Windmill Movie--The Film Desk Human Rights Watch International Film Festival Naturally enough, the New Wave is rolling back. The tide of new French talent that flooded world screens just before and after 1960--bringing Godard, Truffaut, Rohmer, Rivette, Resnais, and Chabrol, among others--has been ebbing for some time. Movingly aware of this, Agnes Varda, one of the earliest if not one of the most eminent members of the group, has looked back at her life in a film. The Beaches of Agnes is autobiography as festival.

Fleeing Moment
June 17, 2009

About 400,000 people, many of them children, annually tour the battlegrounds of Ypres, near the French border in Western Belgium, the scene of some of history's most savage combat. Millions of troops fought here during World War I; more than 600,000 of them died.

The End of the Journey
July 02, 2007

I. In late 1988, when I set out to write a life of Whittaker Chambers,the cold war had reached its ceremonial endgame: Mikhail Gorbachevacknowledging the autonomy of peoples long after they had liberatedthemselves, valiant students halting tank columns in TiananmenSquare. It was an impressive, if occasionally hollow, spectacle,and it inspired a chorus of sweeping pronouncements in the UnitedStates.

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