22 February 2013

Roundup of the Week

Today's post is rounding up both the big news from Europe and some discoveries I've made. 



Bulgaria: This is the most recent and biggest news in Europe.  If you haven't followed up on it, simply scroll through my twitter feed to the right of this post to find numerous sources on it.  Borisov has made a somewhat unusually gallant gesture by stepping down, but it's also just that: a gesture.  His choice of words were, at the very least, an excellent homage to the fundamental ideals of democracy: "The people gave us power and today we are returning it."  Politics is part performance and that's part of its power, but the other part comes from action and there hasn't been much movement on that front.  It has been remarked that Borisov is the tip of the corruption iceberg, hence why people are still protesting.  Presseurop did publish an article showing the cyclical patterns in Bulgarian politics and pointed out that this isn't exactly new fare for the impoverished nation.  It shouldn't be surprising that Bulgaria has struggled so much to shake the weights of the past since it was the most loyal USSR satellite and had the most centralized and sovietized economy in the bloc.  Like everyone else, I'm waiting to see the results of these protests and if they will materialize into either a real political movement, simply a reactionary movement with no clear agenda, or a knee-jerk reaction to austerity that will mirror Greece. 

Horsemeat:  This is also a big deal, but more so because the EU is practically in fits.  The EU has a lot of trade regulations, particularly for food quality.  This is a point I've seen discussed a lot among US intellectuals interested in agriculture/ecology/sustainable resources and the EU isn't exactly a shining white knight for this movement, it's certainly heralded as a forerunner.  So imagine the world finding out that there's horsemeat in something that's supposed to contain beef and then it turns out that there's this incredible web of subcontracting and trading that obfuscated clear knowledge of what meat it was.  I don't think the problem was that people ate horse (I've eaten it before--it's fine), but that they didn't know they were eating horse and no one knows where it came from and EU regulations state the origins must be labeled.  It throws the whole system into scrutiny.  Scandals like this aren't good PR for an institution fighting to convince Europeans of its relevance and importance, though this could turn out to have a really positive outcome for citizen's perception of the EU; it mostly depends on how the resolution shakes out.

Those are the two hottest pieces of news.  If you're looking for more news, check out my RSS page for news outlets to follow.



I'm finding new people every day that I can connect to and learn more about Europe.  I am completely regretting my decision to hold off as long as possible because in the few short months I've signed up, I have tripled my knowledge of CEE experts and related websites.  Some of my current adds to twitter:

Calvert Journal: An online journal of the creative side of Russia.  I love both political and cultural aspects of CEE, so this is a great addition to my largely political feeds.  Plus, I really like the Soviet design, but I swear it's not Ostalgie!

Friedl News: Another source for CEE news that fills in the blanks from the RSS feeds I follow.  There is never enough time to read as much as I want to, but I'm trying to squeeze this one in!

Transitions Online: A publication I need to subscribe to, but also an organization doing a lot of CEE work.  My favorite project of theirs is the CEEBP, which should not come as a surprise for anyone who sees that book reviews take up the majority of my posts.  However, the website covers a breadth of topics across all of eastern Europe even for freeloaders like me.

Fuck Yeah Eastern Europe: Have you seen this tumblr?  See it now.  The pictures are always pretty, informative, and in eastern Europe; sometimes they even have long captions!

Hungarian Girl: A great way to get insight into culture in the region.  There are a lot of posts on food, wine, and travel.  Hungary gets a lot of screen time (so to speak), but it's not the only country featured!  It was this blog that taught me you can make spaetzl using a cheese grater. Genius.

Follow me on twitter!  I'd love to interact with you and I'm game for new people to discuss CEE; at the very least, look at the people I'm following because they are a bright spot in my day.