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Why is the NY Times so interested in Berlin?

It seems that Germany has become super important for the United States. At least I got the impression that the NYT is featuring my country more prominently these days. Alas, not in foreign policy. Rather on sexism, swabian separatists, comedians, and "creative types":

1. Today: "Germany's Sexism Provokes Backlash" by Melissa Eddy and Chris Cottrell. A serious topic, which is very popular on Twitter at the moment.

2. Eleven days ago: "Swabian Separatists Fling Spätzle to Make a Point" by Nicholas Kulish:

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Best Music Videos for the US Elections

I have tuned out of the Republican presidential debates. Too much pandering, too much silly campaign rhetoric. I wrote about their statements on Europe, for instance in Gingrich, Romney rely on Eurobashing to "define their America" and "Europe" is a Dirty Word in the United States. I do, however, tune into official and unoffical campaign music videos.

Here are my three favorites so far in this election cycle: The best music video for a presidential candidate (Rick Santorum), the best video against a presidential candidate (Newt Gingrich), and the most bizarre one from a (former) candidate (Herman Cain).

1. While I don't agree with Rick Santorum's political views, I consider this the best music video for a presidential candidate. It helps me to better understand why so many Americans like him and why his campaign is so successful at the moment. The music video "Game On" by the band First Love, praises Rick Santorum's stands on faith, abortion, and manufacturing:

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Some Good News for a Change: Afghanistan's Pop Idol

The Taliban had banned music and 99% of everything else that is fun. Now, an Afghan version of the "American Idol" called "Afghan Star" has been broadcasted for seven seasons. Millions are watching and voting for their favorite singers by mobile phone. For many this is their first encounter with democracy. A documentary from 2009 follows "the dramatic stories of four contestants as they risk all to become the nation's favorite singer."

Watch the latest show from this week: 

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Craziest Commentary on Germany and Greece

The NY Times published the craziest op-ed on Germany's policy on Greece that I have seen in a broadsheet. Ever.

After tons of articles about Germany being too slow, too hesitant, too selfish to sufficiently help Greece, the NYT now opened its op-ed pages for the American economist Todd Buchholz to write about "Germany's Love for Greece":

Germany's real motivation to help Greece is not cash; it's culture. Germans struggle with a national envy. For over 200 years, they have been searching for a missing part of their soul: passion. They find it in the south and covet the loosey-goosey, sun-filled days of their free-wheeling Mediterranean neighbors.

In the early 1800s, Goethe reported that his travels to Italy charged him up with new creative energy. Later, Heinrich Heine made the pilgrimage, writing to his uncle: "Here, nature is beautiful and man lovable. In the high mountain air that you breathe in here, you forget instantly your troubles and the soul expands."

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Kinder Surprise Eggs Banned in the United States

Since it is Easter, CNN writes this:

Kinder Eggs, a popular European chocolate egg that contains a toy inside, is banned from importation into the United States because it contains a "non-nutritive object embedded in it."

With the Easter holiday around the corner, the agency issued the reminder this week, warning that the candy is considered unsafe for children under 3. Last year, Customs and Border Protection seized 25,000 of them in 1,700 incidents.

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Like America, Germany Needs More Sanity, Less Hysteria

I would like to call for a "war on hysteria," if that would not be so hysterical in itself. Where are the German Jon Stewarts, who could restore some sanity over here? The whole debate in Germany about multiculturalism and Muslims, immigration and integration is full of hysteria. It's gotten so hysterical, that this debate now includes Halloween and nuclear energy.

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Germany is the New Bad Boy

I am quite excited that Germany participates in the Eurovision Song Contest with an original, charming and funny artist, who can actually sing and is a bit crazy and therefore represents the new Germany very well. Lena Meyer-Landrut will perform the song Satellite at the Eurovision Song Contest, which was written by an American-Danish duo.

Although for the first time in years, Germany deserves "douze points," I don't think Lena Meyer-Landrut will get them from the other European countries. Animosities against Germany are too strong. Most Europeans have stronger emotional ties to other countries.

And Germany's current economic and fiscal policies make us the new bad boy. The NY Times writes "Germany Begins to Shed Its Role as E.U. Integrator":

Resisting a bailout for Greece, digging in over economic policy and opposing parts of a strategy for Europe's growth, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany will arrive Thursday at a European Union summit meeting ready to play an unfamiliar role: the bloc's naysayer. Once the invisible glue that bound the Union, German policy is now being dictated by less idealistic priorities rooted firmly by national interests.

I guess, we act now like a "normal" country. Well, so be it!

Germany's previously strong monetary and political support for EU integration did not make us popular enough to win the Eurovision Song Contest either. It just paved the way for German unification, but we got that now and have to focus on bigger national interests, like the Eurovision Song Contest and the Soccer World Cup.

My statements to the Russian English language TV station Russia Today probably cost us a few votes from Greek's Eurovision Song Contest community as well. The 10 minutes live interview took place last Friday. The video clip is from a weekly round-up and mentions just a few short statements of mine:

How Many Like Steve?

Steve Coll - whose book on the Bin Laden family we plugged - laments the 'end of civilisation' on his The New Yorker blog:
Before takeoff, as usual, I had thumbed through my email on my BlackBerry. As the in-flight wireless signal popped up on my laptop (fourteen dollars, including tax) I remembered all of what was left undone and decided to sign up.


I note that the Very Important Book, whose last hundred pages I had expected to finish before landing, sits tucked into the seatback pocket in front of me, in no particular danger of being read. My mission now is not to forget about it altogether and leave it on the airplane. These airliner tubes, with their confined hours-long intervals, had been a last refuge from the grid, a sort of enforced library reading room. Those of us in the bound-and-printed intellectual-property creation racket had best reconsider tweeting.
Sound familiar?

When I review my yearly Christmas reading - it is, again, the season - the Worldchanging book from last year sits in the shelf as an occassional reference, while I'm due for a third start-over of Against the Day, a novel I received two years ago. Both wonderful books, but not the type to easily read from cover to cover (I did manage a number of shorter books in between). A dismal record. This year, the reading will be somewhat less... liberal as I've settled on Drezner's 'All Politics is Global'.