The Boyko Borisov show

Nov 16th, 2009

The Boyko Borisov show

The Boyko Borisov show November 16, 2009 — Sofia Writer: Matthew Brunwasser The professional CV of the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov does not read like your standard head of government: firefighter, private security company owner, black belt in karate, trainer of the national karate team, bodyguard of the former Tsar Simeon II and communist dictator Todor Zhivkov and head of the national police.

Bulgaria Still Stuck in Trauma of Transition

Nov 11th, 2009

Bulgaria Still Stuck in Trauma of Transition

By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER Published: November 10, 2009 SOFIA — The silence on the streets of the Bulgarian capital this week speaks volumes about this nation’s deep ambivalence about democracy. Although Tuesday was the 20th anniversary of the removal of Bulgaria’s Communist leader, Todor Zhivkov, and the start of democratic changes here, the day went uncelebrated, even as Germany cleaned up from celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. To explain the amnesia of Bulgarians about their Communist past, and apathy about their democratic present, Bulgarian commentators are using a biblical metaphor: Like the Israelites, the Bulgarians will have to wander the desert for 40 years to be cleansed of the sins of Communism.

Relationship breakdown

Oct 29th, 2009

Relationship breakdown

Relationship breakdown October 29, 2009 — Istanbul Writer: Matthew Brunwasser There are good reasons to condemn Israel for its incursion into Gaza last December: some 1,400 Palestinians were killed as Israel got tough on Hamas a month before parliamentary elections. But Turkey’s diplomatic response has snowballed to enormous proportions – leaving Turkey-watchers wondering whether Gaza wasn’t just a convenient excuse for the Islamist government in Ankara to shed a historical ally it really considered distasteful all along.

Soap Opera Tourists

Oct 23rd, 2009

Soap Opera Tourists

A wave of Arab tourism is washing over Istanbul – and it’s all because of racy Turkish soap operas. Last season Noor, the most popular, was watched by 85 million people across the Arab world. Monocle sets off to the Bosphorous to join the guided tour for avid viewers wishing to live the dream. Watch on monocle.com

Taking offence, Turkish style

Oct 14th, 2009

Taking offence, Turkish style

Taking offence, Turkish style Offending Turkishness and common sense October 14, 2009 — Istanbul Writer: Matthew Brunwasser Turkey is schizophrenic about human rights. The country has made important steps towards protecting minority rights at home and reducing conflict in the region. But at the same time it continues to brutally silence critics – unable to tolerate either political opposition or those who challenge the myths of the Turkish nation.

Socialist Coalition Loses in Bulgaria Election

Jul 6th, 2009

Socialist Coalition Loses in Bulgaria Election

July 6, 2009 Socialist Coalition Loses in Bulgaria Election By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER SOFIA, Bulgaria — Mayor Boyko Borisov of Sofia, a burly former black-belt bodyguard with a penchant for tough talk, cigars and leather jackets, led his center-right opposition party to a larger-than-expected election victory on Sunday over Bulgaria’s governing Socialist-led coalition, which was weakened by a severely deteriorating economy and voter fatigue with chronic corruption.

Kosovo Ex-Prime Minister Arrested on War Crimes

Jun 25th, 2009

Kosovo Ex-Prime Minister Arrested on War Crimes

June 25, 2009 By DAN BILEFSKY and MATTHEW BRUNWASSER PRAGUE — The former prime minister of Kosovo, Agim Ceku, a former rebel commander wanted in Serbia on war crimes charges, has been arrested in Bulgaria, Bulgarian officials announced Wednesday.

Discovering Walrus Sexuality

Jun 5th, 2009

Discovering Walrus Sexuality

Not much is known about the walrus since the animals inhabit some of Earth’s most remote places. But researchers are beginning to observe some remarkable things about walrus behavior: not only are they very musical, but they are also very gregarious and sexual. Matthew Brunwasser reports.

woodpecker by Linda Tanner

Mar 2nd, 2009

California Community Declares War On Woodpeckers

Broadcast on NPR – All Things Considered Woody Woodpecker, the screwball cartoon character, is famous for his constant pecking. His creators modeled him on the real-life acorn woodpecker, and for good reason. The residents of Rossmoor, an upscale retirement community east of San Francisco, have for years tried peaceful means to make the pesky birds go away. But now, it’s war.

Of Bears and Men

Jan 30th, 2009

Of Bears and Men

For centuries, captive bears have made money for their gypsy owners by dancing in the streets of Europe. But thanks to the efforts of actress Bridget Bardot and an Austrian animal rights group, the last of the dancing bears have been placed in a cushy retirement home in the mountains of Bulgaria. And, as reporter Matthew Brunwasser reports, that isn’t sitting well with some of the local humans.