"The Victory of the Seven"
Corporate groups: Haim Saban and his financial partners have succeeded in the take-over of ProSiebenSat1 Media AG, second time round - the most spectacular deal to be closed on the German media market to date. The investors will only be able to achieve their goals through massive cuts. The deal marks the end of more than a year's haggling over the legacy of media bankrupt Leo Kirch, a sale that threatened in the end to become a grotesque. And it was a historic day for German media history. For the first time, an international media giant set out to penetrate the local market. Saban's arrival will fundamentally change the German media scene. His partners will make sure of that. Because though the charismatic media manager outwardly appears to be the driving force, though he has insisted that his running of the operative business be laid down in the contracts - Saban appears to play an even smaller role than previously thought in financing the take-over bid. By far the greatest sum will be paid by the six financial holding companies which Saban introduced last week to the creditor banks and insolvency management as his new partners. If the anti-trust commission allows his partners to join as well, the loan will be transformed into shares in the holding - Saban would then be just one of seven shareholders, albeit the only one with a vetoing minority.
"The Market of the Possibilities"
Business with Iraq: The reconstruction of Iraq has so far only provided US companies with major contracts. But German companies want to be in on it too. They are placing their hopes in old contacts. Before the country was sealed off completely in 1990 by a total trade embargo, Germany had advanced to become Iraq's main trading partner. In 1982, exports reached a peak level of four billion euros; whereas in 2002, a year before the war, just 400 million euros worth of goods were sold to the realm of Saddam Hussein - the same volume as to Cyprus. Much of what the Germans supplied during the trade boom is still around and now needs to be repaired or partially renewed.
Terrorism: While the USA is reluctant to prosecute terrorists before civil courts of law, Germany is already launching the second trial in association with the attacks of September 11. The defendant is the Moroccan student Abdelghani Mzoudi, accused of being an accessory to mass murder. The maximum sentence he faces is 15 years. Germany, which has been criticised by the US as being lax, is thus in fact proving to be a pioneer in following up the attacks - at least in the civil courts of law.
"Only Revenge on their Minds"
Interview with Russia's former head of parliament Ruslan Khasbulatov about the wave of suicide attacks, the planned presidential elections and the threat of the Caucasus conflict spreading:
"The extremely cruel revenge of the Russian troops on the civilian population, the mass murders, rapes, and abductions have forced people who were totally uninvolved before, to take up arms. They have only revenge on their minds, and they cannot forgive the Russians anything. In this war alone, at least another 120,000 civilians are thought to have lost heir lives, more than in the first. ... I don't believe the elections will lead to anything. Even if Kadyrov is elected - by whatever means: there will be no stability because half a million people haven't got a job, tens of thousands have no accommodation, because children are not going to school, the sick are not being healed. And Russia doesn't have the billions it would take to help. ... If Moscow really does allow Kadyrov to rise to power, Chechnya will be lost for good. The war could then spread to neighbouring republics. In that case, there will soon be a partisan war raging between the Black Sea and the Caspian."
"A Hard Lesson"
Interview with former German president Richard von Weizsäcker about the argument over Iraq, American unilateralism, and the chances of a common European foreign policy:
"Donald Rumsfeld spoke of an old and a new Europe. He wasn't trying to help us to understand Europe better, but to offer the United States a recipe for dividing and ruling Europe. ... It isn't a matter of punishing American unilateralism through multilateralism, so to say; but rather of realising that we can only cope with global tasks jointly. America is able to fight any war on its own, but without us it cannot re-establish order and development, or forge peace. Whatever America fails in doing, will also harm us Europeans. For this reason, our future lies in a strong, influential partnership. ... We have to take charge ourselves to make sure our foreign policy is sensible and our security policies are credible. London, Paris and Berlin have to move ahead jointly. Together with Warsaw we can create a "Club of Four", open to everyone."
"I Always Expect a Disaster"
SPIEGEL in-depth interview with Hollywood Producer Jerry Bruckheimer about the economics of the action genre, his German roots and the importance of market research, budgets and stars for the success of a movie:
"Karate may be in, or perhaps science-fiction, but action will always be a success on the silver screen. ... My responsibility as a producer is to pay back the investors' money with a profit. Making films is, above all, a business. ... German work ethics, discipline - both were very pronounced in my parents. My father went off to work every morning at 6:30 and never got home before 9 in the evening. I grew up that way, and concluded that this was the only way of achieving anything. I get up every morning at 6 and get home at around 11 at night. ... I don't do any market research. Instead I follow everything that's part of pop culture: sometimes I stumble across a newspaper article or a series in a magazine. ... Of course it is a risk to make a film with expensive stars, all of whom want a percentage of the box-office takings. ... If I have a director and a screenplay, then I'll make the film - with or without a star. ... The budgets are tighter now. ... Marketing costs have exploded. But there is less money for staff and additional expenses."
"The Golden Gulag"
Myanmar (Burma): In spite of stricter sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union, the generals in Rangoon are keeping Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in prison, fuelling suspicions of drug trafficking, and recruiting thousands of child soldiers. Who can stop them? Aung Sun Suu Kyi always pleaded for a comprehensive economic boycott against Burma, even though this would be associated with job losses. Since the profits accrued are reaped almost exclusively by the junta, even those experts who normally do not consider such measures particularly wise, support an embargo.
"The Abolition of Health"
SPIEGEL cover story: Pharmaceuticals companies and doctors are systematically inventing new diseases. Rumbling bowels, sexual listlessness or menopause - subtle marketing tricks are used to portray phenomena of normal life as being pathological. Treating the healthy ensures the continued growth of the medical industry. Natural changes associated with life, characteristics or patterns of behaviour that deviate slightly from the norm, are systematically reinterpreted as being expressions of illness. Pharmaceuticals companies sponsor the invention of entire syndromes, and so create new markets for their products. While the escalating cost is overburdening the health care system, the pharmaceuticals industry is doing a roaring trade. In 2002, a year of general economic crisis, the profits of the ten largest pharmaceuticals companies once again rose by an impressive 13 percent.
"Miracle Pill for Lepers"
Medicine: Leprosy is rampant in Brazil. Now there is a flourishing black-market trade in a drug that helps the patients: thalidomide. Treatment is straightforward: state-run health centres administer a free cocktail of medicines to the patients. Taken in time, this can prevent the gruesome mutilations associated with leprosy. However, in many patients, the medicine can also lead to severe side effects. In such cases, the doctors prescribe a drug to which sufferers of leprosy ascribe miracle qualities: thalidomide. The name stands for one of the worst post-war pharmaceutical scandals. When taken during the first three months of pregnancy, thalidomide leads to embryonic deformities in new-born children.
"Bright as a Hundred Lightning Bolts"
Myths: Nutcases and treasure hunters are overrunning the Jonas Valley in Thuringia, hoping to find the Amber Room, art treasures and Hitler's first atom bomb in the tunnels of the Führer's destroyed headquarters. During the last few months of the Second World War, those loyal to Hitler did indeed create a complex network of subterranean passages and vaults in the Jonas Valley. It was to be the Führer's last headquarters. But the last stand of the cave fortress in the Jonas Valley was never to take place. Instead, the victorious Allies ensured that the legend of the system of caves could really flourish. The US military forces combed the valley in 1945, but Washington intends to keep the relevant documents locked away until 2025.
"Hollywood Leaves Me Cold"
Interview with French actress Lidivine Sagnier about her aversion to the American film industry, nudity on camera and her part in the film "Swimming Pool":
"At first I found the idea of displaying my body so openly on camera very scary. ... It is in fact difficult enough to simulate having sex with even just one person, whom you don't know, don't love and don't desire - and that while 20 people are standing around watching you. ... In moments like these you realise that acting and prostitution have a lot in common. ... I don't particularly like the American film industry. In Hollywood, everything is about being rich and famous, and owning a house in Beverly Hills. These dreams about money and power leave me cold."
"The Devious Adonis"
Track and field: Secret training camps, running away from doping inspectors - one year before the Olympic Games in Athens, Greek athletes are once again falling into disrepute. Konstantinos Kenteris is arousing particular suspicion. Instead of racing at the major events, the star sprinter disappeared from view shortly before the world championships in Paris. The affair has not only damaged the monument of Kenteris, as an athlete whom Greeks worship as a hero. The nation is also worried that further scandals could cast a shadow on the Olympic Games in Athens. Last autumn, the international athletics federation even issued an official note reprimanding Greek athletes for evading doping inspections too often or simply being nowhere to be found when the tests were due. Since then, Greece has been under general suspicion.
"Post from a Genius"
Contemporary history: Letters from Einstein that have only now been published reveal that the professed pacifist actually gave the US navy some tips - though lousy ones - on how to improve its torpedoes. The obsequiousness of the Nobel laureate towards the military authorities seems eerie - but the submissive tone was probably deliberate, because the prominent emigrant faced repeated attacks and resentment at his place of work, the Institute for Advancement Study in Princeton, as well. In Washington the scholar continued to be viewed as a security risk.
"Gory Courtship Ritual"
Ethnology: Head-hunting used to be a common practise in many primitive tribes. Now research by a German couple reveals how very much alive this gory tradition still is in the north-east of India. The bloodthirsty ritual welds together the tribal society of the Naga in the state of Nagaland, which appears largely intact to the present day - only that now a turnip takes the place of the head. These days, such decapitation rituals may appear exotic or even sick, but for many primitive peoples they are perfectly normal cultural techniques. Head-hunting was not only common in the Amazon tribes, around the Pacific and in Central Africa. One of the oldest sites where evidence of such practices has been found is the Ofnet cave in the Swabian Alp, in Germany, where Stone Age men lovingly arranged 33 skulls in "nests", creating a macabre form of osseous ikebana. The last European scalp hunters roamed Montenegro in 1912.