Helsinki

In April 2007, Czech artist David Hons replaced the human silhouettes in 48 Prague crosswalk signals with figures engaged in decidedly less pedestrian activities. One signal depicted a man urinating; another had a bottle raised to his mouth. A man squatted to defecate; another appeared to be falling down drunk. “I wanted to show people, they don’t have to walk or stand when the system says so,” Hons wrote on his website. A Prague municipal court found Hons guilty of vandalism, fined him $3,750, and ordered that he come up with an additional $5,000 to repair the signals.

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Speculation abounds as to who conducted today’s attacks in Oslo and for what reasons. For now, we don’t know who is responsible. Recent news has focused on the Nordic identity of the gunman in custody, suggesting that the incident was an example of domestic extremism.* At the same time, an organization called Ansar Al Jihad Al Alami, or The Helpers of the Global Jihad, has also taken responsibility for the attack.

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Editor's Note: On Wednesday, I raised several questions about our intervention in Libya. Not long afterwards, Heather Hurlburt e-mailed with some answers. Readers may recognize Heather from her past contributions to this blog. A former speechwriter and foreign policy adviser in the Clinton Administration, she has also worked for the International Crisis Group, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Congressional Helsinki Commission.

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Flowers in the Desert

The wave of popular unrest that has spread across the Arab world in recent weeks, toppling the regime in Tunisia, creating the mass protests in Egypt, and leading other governments in the region to scramble to choke off similar eruptions, has evoked images of 1989, when Communist governments fell like dominoes in Eastern Europe. Like today, those earlier events unfolded with surprising speed, catching the West (as well as the oppressive regimes) off guard. But President George H.W.

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While observing recess outside the Kallahti Comprehensive School on the eastern edge of Helsinki on a chilly day in April 2009, I asked Principal Timo Heikkinen if students go out when it’s very cold. Heikkinen said they do. I then asked Heikkinen if they go out when it’s very, very cold.

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Minority Report

On October 19 of last year, the op-ed page of The New York Times contained a bombshell: a piece by Robert Bernstein, the founder and former chairman of Human Rights Watch (HRW), attacking his own organization. HRW, Bernstein wrote, was “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.” The allegation was certainly not new: HRW had been under assault for years by American Jews and other supporters of Israel, who argued that it was biased against the Jewish state. And these attacks had intensified in recent months, with a number of unflattering revelations about the organization.

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Last March Senator Alfonse D'Amato was having din- dinner at his favorite restaurant in New York City's Little Italy when he was told he had a phone call from President Reagan. The president was personally calling senators to line up support for an upcoming vote on the MX missile, a cornerstone of the administration's defense buildup. The outcome very likely could be decided by a single vote.  “Molinari, you creep, cut this bullshit out,” D'Amato barked into the phone at Reagan.

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