Going Round In Circles Over Traffic Fix (10/5/11) on NPR. “Roundabouts” (traffic circles in the U.S.) can slash commute times, reduce pollution and even limit car accidents. But American city planners have to overcome public fears that traffic circles are dangerous. Britain and other EU countries champion roundabouts. Recommended by European Affairs. (10/5)

As revelations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests continue engulfing Western Europe, the Pope – who publicly pledged to revive Christianity in the Continent – finds the church, his papacy and even himself desperately on the defensive. The scandal stems not only from child molestation by priests but also from the church’s apparent decades-long cover-up of the practice and its practitioners in the clergy.

In its broadest context, the Catholic church’s scandal seems likely to reinforce other trends in European society that have weakened trust in official institutions of both church and state. In that sense, the fate of the papacy has geo-political implications – which start with the credibility of the pope himself.

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Close by the Brandenburg Gate in the former East Berlin is the venerable Von Humboldt University. It stands on the edge of a large square originally called the Opernplazt, now the Bebenplatz, which over the centuries has been the site of numerous political and artistic demonstrations. None was historically more consequential than the infamous book-burning that took place there and on many German campuses on May 10, 1933. They were followed later by other such burnings on other campuses, including on the Freiberg campus. Despite his denials, philosopher Martin Heidegger was not only there, but also spoke as part of the program.

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Sarkozy Proposes Rival Digitization Plan Made in France

As a key (and culturally symbolic) part of its grandiose global design to make and compile electronic copies of all existing books, Google, the U.S. online search giant, has long sought to digitize the nearly 15 million books on the shelves of the French National Library. From the outset, Google’s ambitions have met opposition in some French circles, and now President Nicolas Sarkozy has put his foot down, announcing that Paris will put up more than $1 billion to fund its own national electronic-scanning project for France’s body of literary work.

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Reviewed by Kenneth Ringle

Grand Avenues: The Story of the French Visionary Who Designed Washington, D.C.
by Scott W. Berg (NY, Pantheon, 336 pages, and in paperback from Vintage)

All it takes is being stuck in one really good Washington traffic jam to find oneself cursing the name of Pierre L’Enfant, the French-born architect who drew up the street plan for the place that would become the U.S. capital. His concept – diagonal avenues superimposed over a grid system – ensured that Washington would look, as intended, totally different than the old capitals of Europe.


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