About Claudia Muir

Claudia is on hiatus from afoe. German. Lived in the Balkans for the last four years -- first Serbia, then Romania, now living in Armenia. Lifelong expat, grew up in Istanbul. Votes for the Green party. Wife of Doug, mother of Alan, David and Jacob. Writes Expatria.

The Giuliana Sgrena Story

I have to confess that I’m utterly mystified by this story.

Short recap for those who haven’t followed the events. Giuliana Sgrena, an Italian journalist for Il Manifesto and contributor to the German Zeit, was abducted outside of Baghdad on February 4. The outrage was great – Italians went on the streets to protest and demand her release, the Zeit magazine dedicated an entire section with articles, pleas and reports to Ms. Sgrena.

13 days into her abduction, a video surfaced in which a haggard, terrified, tear-choking Sgrena pleas for an end of the Italian engagement in Iraq. It was a chilling document and no one who saw it was left untouched.

The Italian government promised to do everything to secure her release — short of calling its troops home.
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Go directly to jail, do not pass go…

After much public outcry over his pardoning of Miron Cozma, Iliescu today revoked his decision. Cozma was arrested again in Timisoara today. Apparently, he tried to flee the country after hearing that his pardon had been revoked. There’s a clip that’s been playing over and over again on the news — it shows Cosma grabbed, surrounded by police and (protesting vigorously) herded into the paddy wagon.

He had huge, rock-star hair, great curly masses of it. Maybe he just let it grow in prison? I didn’t know that was allowed.

Anyway. One bad guy down, good.

The voice of the people has been heard and acted upon, also good.

The public mess and the impression this must leave in the international community, not good at all.

This whole affair has turned into a farce but nobody is laughing. Romanians wonder what has gotten into Iliescu. All my acquaintances today were outraged or depressed by the news of the pardon, confused and bewildered by the revocation. Wild rumors are flying but since they change every hour, it’s no use documenting them. Can you revoke a pardon, anyhow? Or are they claiming that the pardon wasn’t issued properly? That’s still not clear — at first it seemed the latter (Nastase said he didn’t counter-sign it?) but now it seems the former. Maybe we will know more in a day or two.

Then again, maybe not.

One last favor

It was one of his last days in office, and president Illiescu decided to pay one last favor to an old friend.

Miron Cosma is hardly known outside of Romania. “King Coal”, as he’s dubbed sometimes, is a dangerous demagogue, a ruthless criminal, and adored by his followers.

Miron Cosma is a leader of miners. In 1990, he led his men into Bucharest to help President Illiescu solve a problem: protesting students. The miners tore through the city like a natural disaster. They pillaged and ransacked the city as if they were a horde of barbarians. Illiescu thanked them for their patriotic help.
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A Romanian surprise

Everybody is giddy. In Bucharest, that is. Basescu is the new president of Romania. As a result, the marriage of PSD and PUR suddenly went sour and PUR announced that for “the good of the country” they would consider a coalition with other partners too.


The next days should be interesting.

The voter turnout seemed huge yesterday. It didn’t look much like a Sunday on the streets, and Bucharest is strongly pro-Basescu. (Basescu is the mayor of Bucharest.) So I’m surprised, but not very surprised.

I’ve hardly ever seen so many happy faces on the streets like today. Nice.

A very German day

November 9, 1848

Robert Blum is executed in Vienna. One of the more prominent members of the Frankfurt National Assembly, he was in Vienna to observe how the Austrians dealt with the revolutionary forces. Not objective at all, he spoke to the revolutionaries and even took part in street fights. His diplomatic immunity was ignored. His death ultimately marks the end of the 1848 revolution.

November 9, 1918

The first day of the German republic. The Kaiser abdicates (not quite voluntarily) and flees the country, Friedrich Ebert becomes Reichkanzler. It’s the culmination of the German revolution.

November 9, 1923

Hitler’s march to the Feldherrnhalle. His coup fails, Hitler is sentenced to five years imprisonment.

November 9, 1938


November 9, 1989

The Wall falls.

Tragedy, terror, and glory. It’s not just any day for Germans.
(Via Die Zeit)

“Bild” for Bush

The first European newspaper to endorse George W. Bush ist the German mass paper “Bild”.

“With Bush, we know what to expect. With John Kerry, nobody knows what he stands for, what he stands against, and where he wants to lead America and the world.” So writes Hugo M?ller-Vogg, ex-editor of the more respectable “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”.

In Germany, this has made the news. It’s not so much the choice of candidate — “Bild” is reliably right wing — but the fact that a newspaper did an endorsement at all. This is not common practice in Germany; in fact, it’s unheard of. Some experts find it amusing, some are concerned. Some think it might be a test run for the German elections in two years.

In this light, I find it amusing that one cannot access the official George W. Bush homepage from outside the US and Canada anymore. Europeans pining for info on the president of the US get this friendly greeting:
Access Denied. You don’t have permission to access “http://www.georgewbush.com/” on this server.

Well. Seems like Dubbya really doesn’t need us Europeans anymore, eh?