Tuesday, January 29, 2008

AROUND THE WORLD IN A MORNING

L and I get the Tribune every morning. This is a little controversial, since the Tribune is a right-wing rag. Also, it is now owned by Sam Zell, who may have done some good things in Chicago, but is now talking about messing with the old Daily News building, which pisses me off. I may do another post about the consequences of that.

Anyway, today was an interesting day in the paper. Three things that were genuinely interesting. In the first, the Tribune’s correspondent in Brussels had an interesting piece about Belgium’s slow slide toward dissolution. Apparently the new Miss Belgium was booed in Antwerp for not being able to speak Dutch (or Flemish). The country has not had a functioning government in seven months. And, importantly, with a common currency, and open borders in the EU, there doesn’t seem to be any compelling reason to stay one country. The biggest wrinkle in the plan? Brussels. It is in the Dutch-speaking area, but is generally a French-speaking city with very substantial non-Dutch speaking, foreign born population. They are unlikely to be interested in becoming part of independent Flanders. As one commentator said, the Flemish won’t leave without Brussels, but probably can’t leave with it. Let’s see what happens.

In Slovenia, apparently the process of actually finding all of the mass graves left in the two months at the end of the war. Most of these mass graves were created by the Partisans and consist of German and allied (to the German) soldiers caught in the last days of the war before they could get to Austria and surrender to the British. The story is amazing because they are still finding graves with thousands of bodies in them. The other interesting thing is that while these graves are forcing people to reevaluate the history of the liberation of Yugoslavia, the Nazis and allied forces were almost certainly responsible for many more mass killings than the Partisans. This historical memory played out again during the Balkan wars in the 1990s. At what point does a society (or now several societies) decide that all of the mass killings are a wash and move on? At what point do you have so many mass killings that reevaluating the past becomes merely a catalog of horror?

Finally, the Tribune has a nifty little piece about parts of Chicago that have radically changed captured in films. These are not home movies, but rather, Hollywood movies. These include Call Northside 777, City That Never Sleeps, Medium Cool, Cooley High, The Blues Brothers, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Only the Lonely. It’s pretty cool, and makes me want to see some of the movies I have not seen.

UPDATE: On Wednesday the Washington Post ran a similar Belgium article to the Tribune, but with more personal anecdotes. Check it here.

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