March 19, 2010
Shortly after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou took office last fall, he learned that he’d inherited a massive booby prize: a budget deficit that was twice the amount the previous government had disclosed. But, when Papandreou came clean and promised to address the problem, the financial markets reacted violently. Interest rates soared, adding billions in debt-service costs to an already dire budget picture.
March 17, 2010
Vincere IFC Films Mid-August Lunch Zeitgeist Films Here, remarkably and remarkable, is a new film by Marco Bellocchio, a survivor of the Italian post-World War II directing galaxy. His first two films, Fist in His Pocket (1965) and China Is Near (1967), announced the arrival of a talented troublemaker. His subject was the bourgeois family in relation to a changing society--“the connection between the family and the wider political universe,” the film historian Peter Bondanella said.
Saint and Sinner
February 08, 2010
Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone By Stanislao Pugliese (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 426 pp., $35) In June 1950, Ignazio Silone and Arthur Koestler, two of the most prominent anti-communist writers of that era, attended a convivial dinner party in West Berlin. They had gathered with several other intellectuals to celebrate the founding conference of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an American-sponsored riposte to the Soviet Cominform’s “peace conferences” of the preceding year.
A Riot in Calabria
February 01, 2010
Images of African immigrants rioting in the streets of a small southern Italian city, throwing rocks, blocking roads, and breaking store and car windows, briefly exposed a shocking reality: the existence of Italy’s growing migrant-labor population, mostly Africans, an estimated 20,000 of them working under inhuman conditions, living in abandoned buildings or improvised structures without heat or working toilets, sleeping four (even five) to a mattress while laboring off the books for about $30 a day. Early January’s revolt was sparked by an incident in which a couple of local residents from a
January 29, 2010
Last summer, I watched a fellow passenger at Washington’s Reagan National Airport as he was selected to go through a newly installed full-body scanner. These machines--there are now 40 of them spread across 19 U.S. airports--permit officials from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to peer through a passenger’s clothing in search of explosives and weapons. On the instructions of a security officer, the passenger stepped into the machine and held his arms out in a position of surrender, as invisible millimeter waves surrounded his body.
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.
Sentence of the Day
December 15, 2009
From The Sun's report of the attack on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi: Mr. Berlusconi's office yesterday denied reports that he doodled pictures of women's underwear in climate talks in Brussels last week.
How to Save Detroit
December 09, 2009
For much of the United States, Detroit has become shorthand for failure--not just because of the dilapidation of the town’s iconic industry, but because the entire metropolis seems like a dystopian disaster.
December 05, 2009
A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon By Neil Sheehan (Random House, 534 pp., $35) In late March 1953, a colonel named Bernard Schriever sat in a briefing room at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, listening as John von Neumann, the brilliant mathematician, and Edward Teller, the physicist, discussed the future of the hydrogen bomb, the far more powerful follow-on to the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki eight years earlier.
Murder in the Bronx, Business as Usual: A Suggestion for Obama in 2014
November 19, 2009
It’s one of those hideous little episodes making minor headlines this week that will be forgotten by the media next week. 15-year-old Vada Vasquez of the Bronx is in a coma with a bullet in her brain, after being caught in the crossfire when a group of Bloods took aim at 19-year-old Tyrone Creighton (and succeeding; he’s in the hospital, too). The Bloods went after Creighton at the behest of friends of a man in Rikers who suffered a beatdown by Creighton’s two brothers in Rikers with him.