Harry Potter is everywhere
Harry Potter is not just popular in the Western world. J.K. Rowling's
children's books have been translated into dozens of languages.
In November, the screen version of the first book, Harry Potter
and the Sorcerer's Stone, premiered in twenty-five countries - from
the Netherlands to Thailand, from Argentina to the Philippines and
from Iceland to South-Africa. During the coming three months the
film will be released in Japan, Korea, Egypt and India. This makes
the name of the apprentice wizard almost as well-known as the name
Coca-Cola, the film's sponsor. Coca-Cola claims that in sponsoring
the film, it is promoting literacy among the youth.
Committee for returning war art
A committee in the Netherlands will make recommendations regarding
the return of war art. The government made this decision. Surviving
relatives of Jews and other persecuted population groups can appeal
to the Committee. The art in question is pieces sold as of 10 May
1940 which ended up as state property after the Second World War.
In principle, these works of art may be claimed by survivors or
relatives. Sales in Germany starting in 1933 and in Austria starting
in 1938 will be considered to have been 'involuntary' as well from
'Live' execution on Thai TV
Thailand is planning to broadcast the execution of criminals live
on TV. The government hopes that this will serve as a deterrent
in the fight against drugs. In 1996, Thailand re-introduced the
death penalty. This spring the press was allowed to be present during
WTO summit reaches agreement after difficult consultations
The conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) took place
from 9 through 13 November in the Gulf state of Qatar. The 142 WTO
countries agreed to continue negotiations next year about freeing
up world trade. One sticky issue was reducing European export subsidies
for agricultural products. The patent rights on medicines were an
important issue for developing countries. In an emergency situation,
it has become easier to cheaply copy expensive medicines for aids,
malaria and TB.
Rambo and other films about Afghanistan
A new Rambo film is in the making. Leading man Sylvester Stallone,
now 55 years old, will again portray the American hero. This time,
he will battle Osama bin Laden. In the previous Rambo film, Stallone
helped the brave Afghans in their fight against the communists.
Rambo III is one of the few Hollywood films that takes place in
Afghanistan. George Bush prefers to wait until Kandahar, by the
Iranian Mohsen Makhmalbaf, opens in America. The American President
wants to see Kandahar to better understand the situation in Afghanistan.
In the Afghan capital Kabul, the movie theatre has re-opened - for
men - after the departure of the Taliban. Women still are not allowed
British judge: adultery no longer allowed in the newspapers
A British judge has ruled that British tabloids are no longer allowed
to write about celebrities' sexual escapades. According to the judge,
sexual relationships are subject to the privacy rules specified
in the Human Rights Act. Both the tabloids and the legitimate newspapers
are indignant. They fear that the ruling endangers the freedom of
More information: Press Complaints Commission, 11-11-01
Museum for World Religions in Taiwan
Taipei, Taiwan opened the museum for World Religions on November
9. Artifacts and texts from Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism
and Hinduism have been brought together here in one collection.
The objective of the museum is to promote tolerance and respect
for the different religions. The Buddhist monk Hsin Tao initiated
More information: Museum of World Religions,
Thousands of Dalits are Buddhist
In New Delhi, India, thousands of Hindu 'untouchables' have converted
to Buddhism. In so doing, they are rebelling against the social
discrimination imposed by the Indian caste system. This system divides
people into Brahmans (priests), warriors, farmers and labourers.
The caste-less untouchables or Dalits fall outside the system. In
April next year in Uttar Pradesh, an even larger conversion service
will be held.
Trouw, de Volkskrant, Museum
of World Religions, Press