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Orbán, the new Jesus, delivers his Sermon on the Mount – Hungarian Spectrum

Given the superiority of Christian liberty over liberal liberty, western Europe can be saved, in Orbán’s view, only by abandoning traditional liberal concepts and turning to its Christian heritage, which is alive and well in East-Central Europe, mainly because these countries managed to keep migrants threatening European culture out of their countries. And in that region Orbán’s Hungary has a very special place. Let me quote this much-debated passage verbatim: “We shouldn’t be afraid to declare that Hungary is a city built on a hill, which, as is well known, cannot be hidden. Let’s embrace this mission, let’s create for ourselves and show to the world what a true, deep, and superior life can be built on the ideal of Christian liberty. Perhaps this lifeline will be the one toward which the confused, lost, and misguided Europe will stretch its hand. Perhaps they will also see the beauty of man’s work serving his own good, the good of his country, and the glory of God.” First, let’s go to the original, which Orbán failed to identify, the Gospel of Matthew, (5:13-15). 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.” 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” 15 “Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”

Hungarian architect, dissident Laszlo Rajk dies at 70 - The Washington Post

Rajk turned his own home into a “samizdat boutique,” where issues of the clandestine journals could be purchased. Rajk was blacklisted in 1981 by Hungary’s communist regime and mostly banned from working under his own name for a decade. The same year, he co-founded AB Fuggetlen Kiado, an independent publisher of mostly Hungarian and Eastern European dissident authors but also works by anti-authoritarian writers like George Orwell, or those writing about the region, like British historian Timothy Garton Ash. Miklos Haraszti, a fellow dissident and former Representative on Freedom of the Media at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said Rajk was a “pioneer” in the launch and strengthening of Hungary’s democratic opposition. “Rajk was a pioneer in making Hungary the second strongest country, after Poland, in the production and dissemination of opposition ideas,” Haraszti said. “It was his authority, enterprise, diligence and talent which guaranteed their continued existence.”

One by one, historical events are rewritten by the Orbán regime – Hungarian Spectrum

The Budapest Festival Orchestra was performing an all-Beethoven concert on August 18, and Iván Fischer decided to give away 400 tickets to the German visitors. And they came. As he said later, they could easily be spotted by their casual outfits. Once the concert was over, a large group of diplomats from the West German Embassy thanked Fischer for his gesture. They told him that during intermission they had distributed pamphlets to the refugees informing them of the narrow window of opportunity at Sopron the next day. Of course, the concert was just one of the places where the German refugees could be reached, but this story is further proof of the joint domestic and international effort to help the refugees. I should add that Prime Minister Miklós Németh paid several visits to the Zugliget temporary shelter. Opposition leaders were giving the government advice on possible ways to solve the problem, as László Kovács, deputy to Gyula Horn, wrote in an article yesterday titled “On the background of the opening of the borders.” But this is not how the Orbán government wants Hungarians to remember the summer of 1989. As we know, Helmut Kohl’s government felt enormous gratitude for what the Germans considered to be a courageous and humane gesture involving considerable danger considering the still fluid political situation in the Soviet Union. As Boris Kálnoky relates in his article “Merkels überraschend neuer Ton bei ihrem Orbán-Besuch,” Zoltán Balog, former politician and apparently future bishop, said at a two-day conference on the Pan-European Picnic’s thirtieth anniversary that “this praise of the Germans for the former communist dictatorship disturbed us, dissidents even then, and it bothers us to this day.” He claimed that “without our pressure, the communists would never have changed.”

Bernard-Henri Lévy Interviews Viktor Orbán - The Atlantic

“You can’t talk like that. I have the best relations in the world with Israel.” “Fine. But with Jews?” “The same. Let me tell you something. There was a time in Hungary’s history when we didn’t have enough farm labor and had to bring in Czechs, Ruthenians, Roma, and so on. So that by the middle of the 19th century, the Magyars were becoming a minority. And do you know how we settled that? Through a grand alliance between Magyars and Jews, which together made up a little more than 50 percent of the population.” He speaks of this alliance in the manner of a captain of industry describing a shift in the majority of the board of directors. And when I ask him about the source of the Magyar strain of anti-Semitism, which was, after all, one of Europe’s deadliest, he counters with this astonishing response. “Béla Kun.” Kun was a Lenin ally who, in 1918, founded the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic. “Yes,” he insists. “Béla Kun. The Jews played a large role—an unfortunate fact, but a fact nonetheless—in his abortive attempt at a Communist revolution. And that is what undid the fine alliance in Budapest between the Jewish and Magyar people.”

Ancient DNA suggests that some Northern Europeans got their languages from Siberia -- ScienceDaily

"Studying ancient DNA makes it possible to pinpoint the moment in time when the genetic components that we see in modern populations reached the area since, instead of predicting past events based on modern genomes, we are analyzing the DNA of individuals who actually lived in a particular time in the past," Saag explains. Their data suggest that the Siberian ancestry reached the coasts of the Baltic Sea no later than the mid-first millennium BC -- around the time of the diversification of west Uralic/Finnic languages. It also indicates an influx of people from regions with strong Western hunter-gatherer characteristics in the Bronze Age, including many traits we now associate with modern Northern Europeans, like pale skins, blue eyes, and lactose tolerance. "The Bronze Age individuals from the Eastern Baltic show an increase in hunter-gatherer ancestry compared to Late Neolithic people and also in the frequency of light eyes, hair, and skin and lactose tolerance," Tambets says, noting that those characteristics continue amongst present-day Northern Europeans.

Leaving in hordes: Emigration from Hungary – Hungarian Spectrum

It turned out that the number of Hungarians who since 2006 have tried their luck in the richer countries of the European Union is much higher than earlier estimated–close to a million. Determining how many subsequently returned home is close to impossible, but according to numbers provided by host countries of immigrants from Hungary, about 600,000 Hungarian citizens might currently be working abroad.

Distorting the Holocaust in Hungary – Tablet Magazine

So at which point does Paul Bogdanor suggest that we should have started resisting? Who could have risen to the challenge? Uncle Fisher, the blind friend of my grandmother? The Jewish concierge of our yellow star house, who betrayed my father to the Arrow Cross when he came home to see my mother from forced labor? The rich Jews who tried to bribe their way onto the Kasztner train? The mothers who aborted their children? My aunt, Elvira? The 100,000 converted Jews who didn’t believe themselves to be Jewish? People like Bogdanor can glibly speak about Jews taking a chance to escape or fight. But is he serious? Perhaps most illustrative example I know of concerns my mother, who at one point found herself among a group of 200 women rounded up by four Arrow Cross men and being marched toward a collection camp. When my mother made a run for it, the young recruits took shots at her but missed. The ensuing confusion was the perfect opportunity for some or even most of the others to try and do likewise—make a run—but instead, they stayed put and awaited their fate.

Distorting the Holocaust in Hungary – Tablet Magazine

The German Army physically occupied Hungary in March 1944, and Eichmann arrived with only about 200 SS men. In June 1944 the Budapest government designated around 2,000 apartment buildings for Jewish occupation, each building marked with a yellow star. My home in the suburbs was taken over with all its contents by neighbors and my father’s business by his foreman. We were allowed to go out between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. wearing a yellow star, and the concierge was to report to the Arrow Cross (the Hungarian Fascist organization, which toppled the government of Miklos Horthy, which had refused to transport Hungarian Jews to death camps) on all our movements. People committed suicide. Supervision and enforcement of these edicts were taken overenthusiastically by the 22,000 Hungarian gendarmes and later the Arrow Cross.

A Letter From Viktor Orbán's New Nationalist Hungary – Tablet Magazine

Last spring, they told me, when the government first sought to outlaw the Central European University, mass demonstrations were held in support of the university all over the city, and some professors in Hungarian institutions, both in Budapest and elsewhere, signed a petition of protest on Facebook. Very soon after that, the rector at one university in Budapest called together all those who had signed, wanting to know who had initiated the petition, on whose computer it was composed. The rector at a university in another city told one young woman professor who had signed, “You have two young children, think about them.” Such veiled threats of reprisal for speaking out are not new, my friends told me. It’s well-known nowadays that anyone who is considered a critic of the regime will not receive research or fellowship support from government-backed institutions if they apply for it. So people are becoming cautious. “’Don’t talk about this to your friends,’ that’s what I sometimes tell my son,” he said. Are people actually afraid? I asked. “Not afraid, exactly, but cautious. It’s a bit too reminiscent of the Kádár regime,” he answered.

A Letter From Viktor Orbán's New Nationalist Hungary – Tablet Magazine

According to Heller, who is known the world over for her philosophical writings, today it is Fidesz that has become the extreme right-wing party, not Jobbik. “Everyone says that we have to protect the country from the anti-Semites. But for God’s sake, I’m the Holocaust survivor! And with that experience behind me, I say that if there’s no collaboration with Jobbik, then Fidesz will remain in power. If Fidesz remains in power, it will be a tragedy for Hungary,” she stated in a long interview in the liberal weekly Magyar Narancs on Nov. 30.  She is convinced that if Orbán retains power, he will destroy the last remnants of democracy in Hungary, starting with the free press. “We should pay attention not to what Jobbik said five years ago,” she says, but to what it says now. “Just hold your nose and do what’s necessary to oust Fidesz.”

A Letter From Viktor Orbán's New Nationalist Hungary – Tablet Magazine

On a mild fall day in early October, a couple of blocks from the CEU in downtown Budapest, I glimpsed a photo of a laughing George Soros on the wall of a bus-stop shelter. It was part of a large poster, where paid advertising would normally go. Across the top of the poster, above Soros’s head, ran a line in large block letters: “A SOROS-TERVRŐL,” ABOUT THE SOROS-PLAN. And beneath that, “6th question. The aim of the Soros Plan is to squeeze the languages and cultures of European countries into the background, in order to facilitate the integration of illegal immigrants.” This is followed by a question in larger letters: “What do you think about this?” And on the bottom, running along the whole width of the poster, a banner headline: “Let’s not remain silent about it!”

Piketty Thinks the EU Is Bad for Eastern Europe. He's Half Right. - Bloomberg

A billionaire owner of a private German company might stash them in an investment account in some offshore area or they could be reinvested in the Polish subsidiary that made them, pretty much from anywhere. What matters for a country is its ability to tax these profits adequately. In their race to be competitive foreign investment destinations, most eastern European countries don't overburden the corporations. And, given the prevalence of foreign companies -- as Piketty points out, they account for more than half of corporate assets in eastern Europe -- the foreigners end up contributing less to the construction of east European social safety nets and infrastructure than they do in their own countries. Instead, the local populations, who already earn less because relatively low wages are what attracts investment to the region, contribute more than people in wealthier countries in the form of consumption taxes.

Enterprise fund spending

▸ Enterprise funds. The House report on the bill offered a highly critical assessment of the Hungarian-American Enterprise Fund, one of several such equity and credit funds established to promote business development. The report said that the fund had failed to notify Congress before investing $4 million in a new merchant bank. The bank, called EurAmerica, paid three of its managers annualized salaries of almost $400,000 each. The report reverberated from Washington to Budapest as the president of the Enterprise Fund, Alexander Tomlinson, resigned and the organization cut the salaries of EurAmerica's officials. AID moved to tighten oversight of the enterprise funds, which had operated with considerable latitude since their creation. Chairman David R. Obey, D-Wis., of the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee also had questioned the legal costs run up by the enterprise funds. Since their creation, several of the funds had been represented by the New York-based law firm Weil, Gotshal and Manges. According to an article in the Legal Times newspaper, the firm had reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees from the arrangement.

Hungary: The War on Education | by Jan-Werner Müller | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

The number of university students has been declining dramatically since 2010; meanwhile, the age at which students can legally leave school has been lowered from eighteen to sixteen. Orbán, as part of his self-professed turn to “illiberalism,” has put forward the notion of a “work-based state.” In theory, such a state is the opposite of a polity where financial speculation generates most of the wealth. In practice, this idea has meant public works programs—especially for Roma—that critics view as highly exploitative; it has also resulted in an attempt to create a workforce primarily of manual laborers, where everyone knows their place and can at most aspire to employment by German industry (Mercedes is currently spending a billion euros on a new plant in central Hungary).

Vélemény: Gyáva - NOL.hu

During Tickets and all other activities of terrorist attacks in the bus terminal - topped with the words TEK up Janos Hajdu-chief presented to the Prime Minister late-night spectacle . The counterterrorism megfogalmazásunkat probably indignantly rejected, as was a serious exercise. But the commando techniques rarely is often presented to the public and foreign visitors. Sharp right position for the enemy unexpected, but well-rehearsed devices are the most important advantages. This only endangers the public initiation.

Budapest's non-stops remembered

he sweet-natured but infinitely weary Egyptian Copt who sometimes has to serve us through an anti-personnel grille in his shop door when street activities get lively around 1am. The two painfully thin grizzled men with missing teeth (one customer, one salesman) in the shop with only two shelves – 12 boxes of biscuits on each shelf – who challenged me to a series of mathematical match puzzles they had stretched out across the counter at 3 o’clock one difficult night. Or the mildly busy 24-hour shop around midnight where a man and woman, both in their 20s, were intently watching a porn channel on a TV set near the ceiling, ringing up each purchase and silently handing back change without once taking their eyes off the carnal congress on the small screen.

Hungary's Tokaj wine region revives Jewish heritage | Reuters

Alongside the plaques, however, there is a push to rediscover the wine-making region's Jewish roots. Hundreds of Hasidic Jewish pilgrims flock annually to Mád to visit the Baroque synagogue and the newly restored rabbi's house. The plaques marked the first time that any Jewish family was given public recognition in Tokaj. "This is a unique story: as far I know this is the first time that a (Jewish) family is remembered this way with a plaque in the Tokaj region," Mariann Frank, who leads a project to revive the region's Jewish traditions, said.

Hungarian Central Bank 'invests' $1 billion in 'private' foundations

The foundations have awarded grants to a right-wing publisher to publish books by pro-government journalists and by Mr Matolcsy’s former chief of staff. One funded the publication of a six-volume heroic history of Hungary, written not by a historian but by an oncologist, which board members believed would “strengthen the patriotic sentiment against the globalist views”.

Great radio performance kids!

She likened working with Fidesz MPs to resolve the crisis in the over-centralized public education system to being in mental hospital, citing a recent statement by former education undersecretary Rózsa Hoffmann that it simply isn’t true there are problems in schools because she has heard wonderful children’s performances on the radio. Szabó conceded that the government has toned down its attacks on dissatisfied teachers. Realizing the vast majority of Hungarians were aware of just how bad the problems in education really were, the government had now started to admit there were concerns. One such problem discussed on Egyenes Beszéd was that of the government’s public education overseeing agency, KLIK, not paying bills to suppliers and service providers. In one case, reports surfaced of the utterly deplorable condition of the village school of Tarnazsadány. “We see what the government’s solution is after a few weeks of deliberating on the subject: they’re going to rename KLIK and appoint [President] János Áder’s kid sister to run it,” Szabó said. “Absolutely nothing will change.

Grow up controlled, become paranoid?

“Small children are justified in being conspiracy theorists, since their world is run by an inscrutable and all-powerful organization possessing secret communications and mysterious powers—a world of adults, who act by a system of rules that children gradually master as they grow up,” write the cognitive scientists Thomas Griffiths and Joshua Tenenbaum in a 2006 study on coincidences.

The Finnish educational model and current Hungarian reality

The Finnish system is radically different from the Hungarian one, especially as transformed by Viktor Orbán in 2011. One difference is that in Finland parents can’t choose the school to which they will send their children. All children attend the school maintained by the local community closest to his or her home. Moreover, there is no tracking like in the United States. Proponents of the Finnish system claim that the success of this model lies in the uniformity of education provided. Thus, there are no “elite schools” but there are no markedly inferior schools either, such as one finds in Hungary. The Hungarian system exacerbates the divide between the haves and the have-nots and stands in the way of social mobility. While the current government made it compulsory for children to attend kindergarten for three years, beginning at the age of three, and to enroll in first grade at the age of six, Finnish children start school only at the age of seven, preceded by a voluntary preparatory year. Children must attend school between the ages of 7 and 16, but almost all of the graduates continue their education. About half of them attend gymnasium, which is a three-year course of study. The other half attend basic-level vocational schools. The choice of trades is great: a Finnish 16-year-old can choose among 119 programs. There are 17 universities and 27 colleges in Finland, where the competition for admission is fierce. In 2011 out of 66,000 applicants to universities only 17,000 gained acceptance, while out of 70,000 applicants to college only 22,100 were accepted. Finnish higher education is free. According to OECD’s “Education at a glance,” Finland has one of the highest levels of educational attainment among the OECD countries: 84% of 25- to 64-year-olds have completed at least upper secondary education (against an OECD average of 75%) and 39% hold college or university degrees (OECD average: 32%). A few more facts about Finnish elementary education can be found here and here. The same “Education at a glance” of the situation in Hungary points out that although a large number of people finish high school, only 23% of young people are expected to complete university studies. The OECD countries’ average was 39% in 2014. “Moreover, this rate has considerably decreased since 2010, by almost 9 percentage points.”

Economists of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences speak out against the central bank’s “foundations” – Hungarian Spectrum

These purchases are nothing compared to the €700 million earmarked by the Hungarian National Bank from its profits for foundations to support the teaching of economics, outside of the regular channels of higher education. The Bank set up five such foundations named after Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. A perfect description of Hungary today! The amount the National Bank allocated to teach economics is one and a half times more than the Hungarian government spends a year on higher education.

How did Calvinism survive in Hungary?

In Hungary the situation is different, due mostly to the semi-independent Transylvanian Principality (1570-1711) and the Ottoman occupation of the central parts of the Kingdom of Hungary (1541-1699). In the principality, the elected princes were either converts to Calvinism, as in the case of János Zsigmond, the first prince of Transylvania (1565-1571), or were already born as Calvinists and were therefore promoters of freedom of religion. In the case of the Ottoman-held territories, Catholic aristocratic families fled north or west into so-called Royal Hungary, and therefore their former serfs could follow their own religious inclinations.

Hungarian doctors ask public support for improvements to healthcare – Hungarian Spectrum

Between 2003 and 2011, 12% of Hungarian doctors left the country, most of them after 2010. Sixteen percent of MDs simply abandon their profession and work in the pharmaceutical industry or in fields completely unrelated to medicine. According to some calculations, if the salaries of doctors were raised by 40-50%, the outflow of Hungarian doctors could be stopped.

Hungary shrinks

Sometime in May we learned that Hungary’s population was continuing to shrink. The equivalent of a smaller town had disappeared within one year. In today’s papers one can find new data on the subject. It is true that 0.5% more children were born between January and October, but the number of deaths rose by 5.5% during the same period. Thus, another middle-sized town disappeared. To be precise, 33,291 people.

The greatly touted Hungarian terrorist story is a hoax | Hungarian Spectrum

A young fellow who lives in Budapest is a World War II history buff who collects wartime memorabilia. This past weekend, with his father and two of his friends from Slovakia, he headed to some wooded areas around Veszprém with a metal detector to look for items like shells and old grenades. They packed the things they had found into the trunk of the car and headed home. Great was their surprise when they were surrounded by members of the Hungarian anti-terrorist group. TEK units, with their uniforms, masks, and heavy weaponry, are quite a frightening sight. A search of his parents’ apartment followed, where TEK grabbed everything that looked suspicious to them, including, for example, the above mentioned fire extinguisher. Naturally, the three boys and the father were arrested.