Editor’s Pick
MARCH 8, 2010 9:10AM

Berlin meets the Mob

 Berlin poker game
Police van outside Berlin's Grand Hyatt Hotel
(Source: Der Tagesspiegel)


IT’S THE KIND OF story you would sooner expect to find in the pages of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale than in the local section of Berlin’s daily newspapers. Last Saturday afternoon, between fou/Read full post »

  Herman von Rompuy
"The charisma of a damp rag?"
European Council President Herman van Rompuy

LAST NOVEMBER, WHEN I wrote a post on the appointment of Herman van Rompuy as President of the European Council and the de facto first leader of united Europe, I made some ironic comments about the man’s&hel/Read full post »

 Margot Kaessmann
Former Bishop Margot Kässmann

YESTERDAY I WROTE IN detail about the drunk driving arrest on Saturday night of Margot Kässmann, Bishop of the State Church of Hanover and Chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany. This high office made her - if not the spirit/Read full post »

FEBRUARY 23, 2010 12:25PM

When bishops drink and drive

 Margot Kaessmann
Bishop Margot Kässmann


THE WOMAN WAS CLEARLY blotto. The policeman who had just pulled the fifty-one year-old off the road late Saturday night after she raced through a red light at high speed picked up the tell-tale stench the moment she rolled down the window. No doubt abouRead full post »

FEBRUARY 22, 2010 11:09AM

Googling ourselves back to the Stone Age

 Google Translator   

GOOGLE RULES OUR PLANET, and that's a simple fact, although only because we allow it to. So you can almost forgive today's kids for using this genuinely all-purpose search engine to think for them at school. Isn't it just a thousand times more practical to "Google" so… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 19, 2010 10:02AM

Just a dumb blonde? A new look at Eva Braun

Eva Braun 
Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun kept their relationship
a secret from the outside world 


SHE IS THE WORLD’S most famous dumb blonde, the ultimate victim of personal stupidity. It was not just her hair color that made her reputation, but also her very name: Braun/Brown isRead full post »

A plane from the 398th Bomb Group returning from its
raid on Prague, February 14, 1945


IT WAS ONE OF the cruelest and stupidest of the many thousands of cruel and stupid mistakes that made the Second World War into the global massacre Americans still insist on calling “the GRead full post »

FEBRUARY 14, 2010 8:48AM

Dresden says "nein" to neo-Nazis


 Up to 15,000 people form a human chain across central Dresden on February 13 to protest a planned neo-Nazi march across the river.
In the background: Dresden's reconstructed Frauenkirche.

SIXTY-FIVE YEARS AGO this weekend, in four raids from February 13 to 15, 1945, 1,300 BritishRead full post »

 Tebow Family
The Tebow Family:
Doing the Lord's work in a "howling wilderness"

THE WEEKS OF CONTROVERSY preceding the thirty-second Tim and Pam Tebow anti-abortion ad during the 2010 Super Bowl have drawn national attention to the “Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association,” which Tim’s fatRead full post »

  Berlin snowmen
750 snowmen demonstrate against global
warming on Berlin's Schlossplatz

IT WAS A CLEVER idea, I'll hand them that: inviting 2,500 citizens and tourists to build 750 snowmen on Berlin's Schlossplatz in the very heart of the city. Artist Ralf Schmerberg had originally conceived the demons… Read full post »

  Munich airport
A security incident closed Munich's
international airport for three hours on Wednesday

A RECENT ANTI-AIRPORT security demonstration by the Pirate Party at three German airports, in which several dozen young people took off their clothes to express their anger over the imminent/Read full post »

JANUARY 18, 2010 8:23AM

When the minister's wife is a man

Guido Westerwelle
German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle (right) and
his partner Michael Mronz in Bayreuth (July 2008)

ONE OF THE GREAT pleasures of living abroad is sitting back and observing how different other countries are from the US. Just imagine a story like this one hitting the press in the land of Pa… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 15, 2010 8:59AM

The Swiss Right identifies a new scapegoat - Germans

 SVP sheep  
Kicking out the "black sheep" -
The Swiss People's Party campaign "Creating security:
Popular initiative to 'sheep out' criminal foreigners" 

FOR GENERATIONS, SWITZERLAND HAS enjoyed a global reputation as a place of tolerance, neutrality, democracy, and basic decency. But… Read full post »

Confessions of a small press YA author


 Going Rogue - Grand Rapids
Sarah Palin signing her new book in
Grand Rapids, MI on November 18, 2009.
Total sales so far: more than 1,000,000 copies.

FORGET COLUM MCCANN, FORGET Elizabeth Strout - although how can you forget them if you've never heard their names before?… Read full post »

 African Renaissance
The 164-foot bronze statue "African Renaissance"
is scheduled to open in April, 2010

IF, LIKE ME, YOU had the privilege of traveling widely in Eastern Europe both before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, you will also remember a certain style of monument – usually called &ldquoRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 11, 2010 8:48AM

German Pirate flashmobs protest enhanced airport scanners

 Frankfurt Pirates

WHEN THE GERMAN PIRATE Party first raised its black flag last spring and stormed ahead to receive a promising but ultimately unremarkable 2 percent in the September Bundestag election, I thought this event was worthy of a thorough write-up in an OS post. I also assumed the movement/… Read full post »

  Body scanner
The backscatter full-body scanning system:
This is you embarking on your next vacation

THE RECENT FAILED "CHRISTMAS" bombing of Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit is focusing attention on an ingenious but controversial remedy to the scourge of international air terrorism: high-tech sca… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 30, 2009 11:03AM

Rosa Luxemburg "floater" released for burial after 90 years

IT'S TAKEN NINE DECADES, but the unclaimed female torso that was fished out of Berlin's Landwehr Canal in the spring of 1919 has finally been released for burial. It had been kept on display in the pathology department of Charité Hospital as a classic example of a water corpse or "fl… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 28, 2009 7:55AM

Horror film of the decade - "The White Ribbon"

  The White Ribbon
Official poster for Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon

AS EVERY CONNOISSEUR OF horror films knows, the scariest monsters aren’t the ones you see but the ones you don’t. In his latest film, The White Ribbon: A German Children’s Story, winner of this year's Palme d’/Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 18, 2009 10:16AM

Iconic sign stolen from Auschwitz death camp memorial

   Arbeit macht frei
"Work makes you free"

THE THIEVES CAME BETWEEN 3:30 and 5:00 this morning. Somehow they cut a gap through the fence and circumvented the guards without being seen or heard. The four meter long sign was impossible to miss – it spelled out the words Arbeit macht frei and could/Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 9, 2009 7:35AM

The tomato that launched a women's revolution


A RECENT PRESS REPORT about a tomato that was inexpertly tossed in the direction of former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin in the Mall of America recalls a similar incident that occurred in Frankfurt forty-one years ago. That time the thrower not only had a better aim, but her historic tos/… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 7, 2009 9:13AM

Berlin newspaper erects provocative new artwork

 Friede sei mit euch
Peter Lenk's sculpture "Peace Be With You"
on the
taz building in Berlin

IT'S STORIES LIKE THIS that drive home just how different Europe and America can be from one another. On 15 November, 2009 the left-wing German newspaper Die Tageszeitung ("taz" for short) unveiled a provocative/… Read full post »

  Johannes Heesters
Johannes Heester, 1903-

WHILE IT IS NOT exactly what people in his adopted homeland call a "round birthday," by the time you turn 106 every birthday is a cause for celebration. This time it is the turn of the Dutch-Austrian singer and actor Johannes Heesters. He is not only the wor… Read full post »

Van Rampuy 

ACTUALLY, THIS POSTER WAS created when the virtually unknown Christian Democratic politician Herman Van Rompuy was voted in as prime minister of Belgium in December of last year. Yesterday evening, over a private dinner in Brussels, he was surprisingly chosen as the chief representative… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 10, 2009 11:22AM

Watching the dominoes fall in Berlin: Reflections on 11/9/09

Brandenburg Gate
1,000 giant dominoes are lined up from the Reichstag
to Potsdamer Platz to recreate the fall of the Berlin Wall

TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARIES ARE OFTEN melancholy affairs, no matter how happy and festive the occasion is. We can't help but think of how much time has passed and how few of our… Read full post »