May 24, 2010
"Prince of Persia" didn't exactly get a royal reception overseas this weekend. Walt Disney Studios' big-budget video game adaptation starring Jake Gyllenhaal opened in 19 foreign markets, including every major European country except France, one week ahead of its Memorial Day weekend debut in the U.S. and the rest of the world. The film sold a studio-estimated $18 million worth of tickets. That's 5% more than the opening of "National Treasure" in the same countries in 2004, but 13% less than the original "Iron Man" in 2008 and 24% less than 2005's historical epic "Kingdom of Heaven."
May 13, 2010 |
The Conservative-led government that got down to the business of running Britain on Thursday is the latest manifestation of a rightward tilt of politics across Europe. With David Cameron ensconced as prime minister here after 13 years of Labor rule, center-right parties or coalitions now have the upper hand in Western Europe's most populous countries: Germany, France, Britain and Italy. They also rule several Eastern European nations, such as Poland and Hungary, while on the Iberian Peninsula, the Socialist governments of Spain and Portugal are struggling to fend off gains by conservative opponents.
May 9, 2010 |
Last week's British election was important as much for what didn't happen as for what did. The opposition Conservative Party won the most votes, but it didn't win a clear majority of seats in Parliament. The third-party Liberal Democrats, who hoped to surge into second place ahead of the deflated Labor government, fell short. As British television pundits noted, it was a reverse trifecta: All three parties lost. All politics is local, of course, but Britain's grouchy electorate sent a message that has echoes in the rest of Europe and even the United States: Voters aren't looking for massive change right now; they're looking for leaders who can find a safe way out of a deep economic crisis that never seems to end. Thirty years ago, when Ronald Reagan won an election in the United States on the heels of Margaret Thatcher's victory in Britain, it was possible to talk about a wave of conservative politics sweeping the Western world — especially since Reagan and Thatcher shared a common passion for downsizing the liberal welfare state.
March 1, 2010 |
Rescue workers continued to search Monday for victims of a powerful weekend storm that combined with high spring tides to batter France's Atlantic coast, killing at least 62 people in Western Europe. By Monday evening 51 deaths had been reported in France. Most of the victims drowned in their homes early Sunday morning, officials said. At least 11 more people died in other Western European nations as a result of the storm named Xynthia. Warnings had been issued by Friday evening in France for people to stay off beaches and coastal roads, but hundreds were surprised in their homes in the middle of the night by surging waters that smashed through aging sea walls.
August 19, 2009 |
When an author with Christopher Caldwell's impeccable conservative credentials glosses Edmund Burke in his book's title, it's a safe bet that he's engaged a question whose implications he believes are absolutely fundamental. Burke's great masterpiece of political criticism -- "Reflections on the Revolution in France" -- is, after all, both the foundational text of contemporary conservatism and a continuing inspiration to classical liberals. Caldwell's closely argued thesis in "Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West" is that the massive migration of Muslim immigrants into Western Europe now represents as much of a consequential break with Europe's cultural traditions as the utopian rationalism of revolutionary France did for Burke.
June 22, 2009 |
Like many spy tales in fiction and reality, "Background to Danger" begins in a train station. A down-and-out freelance journalist awaits a night train alone on a platform in Nuremberg, Germany, hands in overcoat pockets, shoulders hunched against a November wind. Soon a frightened Russian offers him cash to smuggle documents across the Austrian border, and the plot steams into a labyrinth of treachery.