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Smoking Sections… Again?

Smoking Sections… Again?

Friday, 25 November. It was a headline in the U-Bahn daily Heute that got the talk started all over again: In the current negotiations on the new governing coalition, “an agreement was imminent” to make smoking illegal in all bars and restaurants in Austria. And just as quickly, a denial came from Lisa Fuchs, spokeswoman […]

Relearning Excellence

Relearning Excellence

Time was when the Vienna school system was among the most respected in Europe: Its Gymnasien prepared pupils for its universities and its Realschulen for technical or trade schools. It was elite and selective, and very good, with results to show for it. “The central Gymnasien account for most of the major figures in Vienna’s […]

First-Time Voter

First-Time Voter

I voted for the first time in 1972, when Richard Nixon ran for re-election and trounced George McGovern with one of the largest election margins in U.S. history – 60.7% of the popular vote and every state in the Union except Massachusetts. He ran as “President Nixon – Now, More than Ever!” I had waited […]

Integration: A Paradigm Shift

Integration: A Paradigm Shift

A hundred years ago, in 1913, there were 2.1 million people in Vienna, larger than the 1.7 who live here today – as mix of Serbs an, Poles, Turks, Hungarians, and of course, Germans, who represent the largest immigrant group in Vienna and Austria today. Austria, which stretched from Lake Constance to the Black Sea […]

The Cultural Exception

The Cultural Exception

Feelings are running high about the US-EU Trade Talks that are scheduled to begin in July in Washington. “The US-EU relationship is the largest in the world – it makes up almost half of global GDP,” American President Barack Obama said at the G8 Summit in Ireland in late June. “This potentially ground-breaking partnership would […]

Daniel Landau and caffé sospeso

Daniel Landau and caffé sospeso

In Naples, by long tradition, someone who has had some luck will order a cup of coffee and then a second, caffe sospeso, to be served to someone going through hard times. The first time I saw “suspended coffee” in action was in New York City, oddly enough. I had stopped somewhere along Broadway to […]

Austerity & the Lessons of 1919

Austerity & the Lessons of 1919

I’ve never liked the word “austerity”: It conjures up the world of Scrooge and Cruella Deville, of humourless Puritans and knuckle rapping schoolmarms determined to kill the least sign of enthusiasm before it gets out of hand. My childhood had its fair share of these characters, and I was familiar with the result. In the […]

Helmut Schüller on God’s Mysterious Ways

Helmut Schüller on God’s Mysterious Ways

“God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform!” my grandmother would tell me, quoting the poet William Cowper, in moments when my curiosity had stretched too far. She liked to retreat into literature to avoid unpleasantness and keep ‘unmentionables’ where they belong. I have wondered what she would have had to say about […]

Krzysztof Michalski

So, the votes are in and Austria is aglow in the reflected glory of its two favourite sons, director Michael Hanecke and actor Christoph Waltz, as Oscars in hand, they took their bows at the 85th Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood. At the same time, a much quieter, but none the less resonant tribute, is […]

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