Hungary

Michael J. Jordan

BUDAPEST, Hungary – I’d fallen out of love. This summer, I wanted so badly for that passion to reignite. No, I'm not referring to my marriage, but to the grand old city of Budapest.

Eight weeks later, I’m delighted to report: the embers still smolder. The elegant architecture. The vibrant café culture. The festive night life. Feels like 1997 again!

Michael J. Jordan

MASERU, Lesotho – Last week was one filled with nostalgia and melancholy.

Michael J. Jordan

Budapest Winter: Can anyone stop the Putinization of Hungary?

Michael J. Jordan

DEVECSER, Hungary – It was just past noon, last Oct. 4, when Karoly Horvath returned home from fishing a local lake, here in provincial western Hungary. His wife and 12-year-old daughter were home to greet him, too – just as the waves of red sludge crashed through the door and windows.

Within seconds, the toxic mud was above their waist, burning the skin. Unable to move, Karoly could only watch mother and child screaming in agony.

Michael J. Jordan

BRATISLAVA The UN Security Council’s 11th-hour intervention to save Benghazi may have sparked a Libyan ceasefire – at least, a brief respite – but one criticism caught my eye as Gaddafi loyalists tightened the noose around the rebel stronghold.

Michael J. Jordan

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Just days before Christmas, Hungary's new right-wing government, which now controls a near-invincible two-thirds of parliament, succumbed to temptation: It rubber-stamped a draconian-sounding new media law that looked as if it would slip a leash of censorship around the necks of both traditional and online media.

Michael J. Jordan

BUDAPEST – Remnants of the past. I always look for them, especially in Central Europe. How else to stay stimulated in the land I’ve called home for most of the past 17 years?

I discovered a different sort of relic over the holidays in Budapest. When an icy chill swept the region, it rendered most warm-blooded humans homebound. Or hop-scotching from family to friend’s flat. Or scurrying from mall to shiny mall.

Michael J. Jordan

HEVES, Hungary—For ten years, Szabolc Szedlak toiled in a furniture store in Heves, Hungary, before deciding to chase the capitalist dream. He bought the store from his boss in 2005, but high taxes choked the life out of his business. It folded in June 2008. At the same time, his wife gave birth to their first child. With a second on the way, this spring he found a job as a maintenance man at a local kindergarten. Unable to afford their own place, the couple now lives with Szedlak’s parents.

Shaun Randol

From food talk to foreign lands. Still camped out at the international stage, I was taken from the dinner table to, well, appropriately, Hungary, followed by El Salvador and then China. A twist to this panel: all three authors are American (but they all retain personal connections to the destinations in their novels). The lineup: Andrew Ervin (who took us to Hungary), Sandra Rodriguez Barron (pilot to El Salvador) and Lan Samantha Chang (a trip to imaginary China).

Michael J. Jordan

Gyongyos, Hungary -- While running for a parliamentary seat in Hungary's April elections, far-right candidate Gabor Vona made one campaign promise that was controversial even by his standards: If voted into parliament, the 31-year-old extremist would report for duty wearing the insignia of his outlawed paramilitary organization, the "Hungarian Guard" -- a taboo symbol that, with its ancient, red-and-white-striped emblem, bears a striking resemblance to the flag of Hungary's Nazi-era fascist party, Arrow Cross.

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