TIME Spain

Catalonian Vote for Independence Could Lead to Compromise

SPAIN-CATALONIA-VOTE
Pro-independence activists attend a meeting after a symbolic vote on independence for Catalonia from Spain at a polling station in Barcelona on Nov. 9, 2014. Josep Lago—AFP/Getty Images

More than 80% of Catalans who voted in symbolic poll want independence

Do you want Catalonia to be a state? If yes, do you want that state to be independent? After tremendous controversy and a long wait—some put it at months, others at centuries—Catalans finally had the chance to answer those questions publicly. On November 9, 2.3 million went to the polls to vote on secession from Spain. The results represented a triumph for the pro-independence movement, not only because they managed to pull it off in the face of fierce Spanish opposition, but because the returns were so overwhelmingly in their favor: nearly 80.76% answered those two questions in the affirmative.

If Catalonia were Scotland, its leaders would have awoken this morning to begin the awesome challenge of decoupling their nation from the central state that has ruled it for centuries. Instead, they woke flushed, but wondering what comes next. Unlike David Cameron, who agreed to honor the results of the Scottish independence referendum, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has declared any Catalan referendum—including yesterday’s straw poll—unconstitutional. That fact, coupled with a level of participation yesterday that was overwhelming but may not translate into an absolute majority, has left as much uncertainty as it has euphoria.

“Our citizens have shown that they want to rule themselves,” said Catalan president Artur Mas as he spoke to the media after the polls closed, and promised to push for a binding referendum. And although he called the voting a “total success,” he also noted that it was symbolic.

Certainly in terms of its peacefulness and orderliness, the poll was a victory. Although there had been rumors of an increased police presence in the region, and President Mas had gone so far as to tell the mayors and volunteers that they “needn’t be afraid” about what might happen on Sunday, the voting took place in an atmosphere far more festive than tense. Instagram and Twitter were filled with images of long lines at polling places and selfies of people happily holding up their ballots.

That said, there was no shortage of efforts to impede the vote, even as it was underway. In the months and weeks leading up to November 9, the Spanish constitutional court twice suspended the straw poll, and as late as the evening before, the attorney general’s office declared that it was investigating whether the use of schools and other public institutions for polling represented a crime. Overnight, locks were placed on the doors of several polling places, and early on the morning of the 9th, hackers sent out a press release purporting to be a letter of resignation from the leader of the Catalan National Assembly, a pro-independence organization that has spearheaded the referendum movement. In Girona, a group of skinheads tried to destroy a ballot box (they were promptly arrested). But a demand that the regional police identify the people in charge of each polling place never materialized, and a court ruled against one political party’s last-ditch judicial effort to have the ballot boxes seized. When the mayor of Horta San Joan decided that he would not open a polling place in his town, president Mas’ political party (CiU) simply paid for a bus to transport residents who wanted to vote to the nearest ballot box.

Indeed, the Spanish government looked the other way as 1317 municipalities opened polling stations, and in the end, slightly over 40% of Catalonia’s roughly 5.4 million eligible voters went to the polls.

Those numbers matter, even if the vote legally doesn’t. “Even though it’s a simulacrum, pro-independence partisans take it very seriously,” says Carles Castro, political analyst for the Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia. “It’s a thermometer of what they could expect in a real referendum.”

Because the straw poll did not contain the electoral guarantees of a true referendum, and was organized and promoted entirely by pro-sovereignty groups, it was largely expected that those opposed to independence would not turn up to vote (and indeed, the percentage of returns against both statehood and independence was a mere 4.5%; an additional 10% voted in favor of statehood—meaning greater autonomy within a federal-style system—but rejected independence). If yesterday’s poll is indeed an accurate reflection of what Catalonia could expect in a binding referendum with greater electoral guarantees and a high level of participation, then somewhere between 40 and 50% of the total eligible population would vote in favor of independence.

“The results really strengthen Mas’ position,” says Ferran Requejo, professor of political science at Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University. But they also present the pressing problem of what to do next. Both the hardline independence party Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and the massive pro-independence civil association, Catalan National Assembly (ANC) agreed to support the alternative consultation Mas arranged after the Spanish court shot down a more official one only in exchange for early regional elections. Those elections, it is thought, would function as a plebiscite on independence. And if current polls are any indication, ERC—a party that has called for a unilateral declaration of independence–would win them, not only putting Mas out of a job, but throwing Spain into constitutional crisis. “So he’s going to have to negotiate with ERC,” Requejo says. “Mas will only agree to early elections if they have a joint list, with him as number one, and Junqueras (leader of ERC) as number two.”

He’s also going to have to do some negotiating with the Spanish prime minister, who until this point has refused all dialogue, even on things like restructuring the fiscal system under which Catalonia operates. For some, the fact that Rajoy’s government essentially turned a blind eye while yesterday’s vote took place suggests that it may be softening. “I sincerely believe it’s possible that there’s going to be some kind of rapprochement, an invitation to negotiate,” says analyst Castro. “The ball is in Madrid’s court.”

If Madrid accepts the challenge, the Catalan situation may prove more like the Scottish one than previously suspected. After the ‘Yes,’ movement lost its bid for independence, Cameron promised to devolve greater power and autonomy to Scotland. If Rajoy takes the opportunity to do the same, agreeing, for example, to a more federal system, he just may avoid a another referendum—and almost certain rupture—down the line.

TIME Spain

Catalans to Hold Controversial Independence Vote This Weekend

Catalonia Separatist Rally Barcelona Spain
People attend the last Pro-Independence rally before the unofficial Catalan independence vote in Barcelona on Nov. 7, 2014. David Ramos—Getty Images

Spanish government is expected to look the other way rather than use force to prevent the ballot

When is a referendum not a referendum? Like Scotland, the semi-autonomous region of Catalonia is home to many who dream of independence. On November 9, they will get their chance to vote on whether or not they wish to separate from Spain. Unlike the Scottish case, however, that vote is non-binding. It is also, according to the Spanish government, illegal. So while the decision of the country’s Constitutional Court to suspend the act has not dissuaded the pro-independence movement from going ahead with the polling, it has left both Catalans and Spaniards wondering what Sunday’s vote will mean.

A vote on independence has been a long time coming. Although many Catalans have historically felt themselves to be separate from Spain because of their distinct language and culture, that sentiment only began to coalesce into a drive for sovereignty in 2010, when the Spanish constitutional court ruled on the revised statutes outlining Catalan autonomy, and outraged many in the region by striking down a proposed preamble that referred to Catalonia as a ‘nation.’ The economic crisis compounded the disillusionment; as Spain’s wealthiest region, Catalonia felt that it was paying a disproportionate amount to keep the central government afloat. In 2012, 1.5 million Catalans took the occasion of their regional holiday to pour into the streets for unexpected demonstration in favor of independence. Spurred by their enthusiasm—and seeing in it a much-needed boost for flagging public support for his government–Catalan president Artur Mas quickly adopted a vote on independence as his government’s primary goal.

Three years later, that goal has eclipsed all others. Although barred from legally holding the vote, Mas is under tremendous pressure from other pro-sovereignty parties, whose support his government needs to do survive. Which is why he chose his words so carefully when he spoke on November 5 to the Forum Europa, a political organization. “We are maintaining the participatory process of November 9th.We will do what we have to do to defend the country. And we are determined to do so.”

That may sound steadfast, but in that carefully-selected name, “participatory process”, lies evidence of diminishing ambitions. Under this alternative, the government will not officially convene the vote, which means that municipalities have the option not to hold them. Nor will it organize electoral registers—citizens register simply by showing up to vote. “It’s become more like a demonstration,” says Michael Keating, University of Aberdeen political scientist, and director of the Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change. “It’ll be like another version of that big march that a million people turned out for.”

Because the Spanish constitution bars referenda on secession, even the initial ‘consultation’ that Mas’s government proposed would not have been binding. But movement leaders hoped that an outpouring of support for independence would be enough to garner international support. “That’s exactly what they expected,” says Keating. “That Europe would see what was happening, and come and tell Spain, ‘you have to let this happen. But Europe doesn’t do that. They didn’t intervene in Scotland; they said, ‘It’s none of our business, it’s up to the UK.’ And they’re not going to intervene in Spain.”

It remains unclear what role the government will play in Sunday’s vote. Although the vast majority of the region’s municipalities have agreed to open a polling place, they are not, under the new formulation, required to do so, and it has been suggested that much of the organizing will be left in the hands of pro-independence civic organizations like the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, which on Wednesday began a massive calling campaign to get out the vote. That kind of effort has made it increasingly clear that the only people who will turn up to cast their ballot are independence supporters; opponents will boycott it, or simply stay home.

“It still has sense,” says political scientist José Ignacio Torreblanca, director of the Madrid office of the European Council on Foreign Relations, of the vote. “But only as a way for the independence movement to test its own relative strength. They need to count their supporters, and this will allow them to do that.”

If the goals of the independence movement for Sunday’s vote have diminished, so too has the ferocity of the Spanish government’s response. Although there were media reports in October that it had sent squads of anti-riot police to the region, and Mas himself urged people this week not “to be afraid,” the government currently seems disposed to look the other way during the polling. As if to prove the point, deputy prime minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría used a press conference after today’s weekly cabinet meeting to suggest that Mas restrain from requiring others to comply with his decision. “If he considers himself…above the law, he shouldn’t make a single civil servant adopt attitudes that he or she is the least bit uncomfortable with.

“It’s Kafkaesque,” says Torreblanca. “The independentists are going ahead with a vote that doesn’t have the meaning they want it to, and the Spanish government is turning a blind eye to something it says is illegal. It’s a sufficiently bad option for everyone, but it’s not the very worst option for anyone. So better not to call things by their real names.”

At the ANC, the name they’re giving Sunday’s vote is “a step.” The organization, which has spearheaded the push toward independence, agreed to support Mas’ alternative ‘process’ only if he called government elections in the next three months—elections which would function effectively as a plebiscite on independence. They’re still waiting for an answer. But in the meantime, explains ANC volunteer consultant Ana Rosenfeld of the polling, “It’s a step. It’s not the definitive step we wanted—we need to take more. But we have to do this for dignity’s sake. We can’t allow the Spanish government to impede our right to vote.”

 

TIME sweden

Swedish Hunt for ‘Russian’ Sub Recalls the Cold War

Swedish minesweeper HMS Koster searching for what the military says is a foreign threat in the waters in the Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden, on Oct. 19 2014.
Swedish minesweeper HMS Koster searching for what the military says is a foreign threat in the waters in the Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden, on Oct. 19 2014. Marko Saavala—AFP/Getty Images

Russia denies it has a submarine in the area but the search continues

For the last six days, Sweden’s Navy has been in full Hunt for Red October-mode. Ever since a mysterious, unidentified vessel was spotted south of Stockholm, Swedish ships and helicopters have been searching the area for what media reports says is a damaged Russian submarine that has surreptitiously made its way into the Nordic country’s waters. Those reports were only amplified when, on Oct. 18, Sweden reportedly intercepted communications between transmitters in the Stockholm archipelago and the Russian town of Kalingrad. If all that activity sounds like it was lifted from the screenplay of a 1980s Hollywood military thriller, it raises a very real question. Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, has the Cold War returned?

According to Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, the first sign that something was amiss came on Oct. 16, when Swedish intelligence detected a distress call from somewhere in the Stockholm archipelago. The next day, two civilians reported spotting a submarine-like object in waters about than 40 kilometers east of Stockholm. Sending out 200 troops on corvettes and minesweepers, the military began scouring the area for what it said was most likely a foreign vessel conducting operations in Swedish waters. The sightings, which have now increased to five, took place in “an area that is of interest to a foreign power,” said Swedish Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad at a press conference on Oct. 19. “This does not belong to us. It is a foreign vessel and we have no indications that there would be any civilians involved in underwater activity.”

Although Swedish military and government officials have not identified the nationality of the craft, nor even confirmed that it is indeed a submarine, Dagbladet was less circumspect, publishing stories about the encrypted Russian transmissions and noting that a Russian tanker supposed to be sailing to Denmark had instead been zigzagging through the Stockholm archipelago for the past week, possibly in an attempt to aid a damaged submarine. The Russian government has denied it has a submarine in the area.

Konstantin Sivkov, a retired navy officer of the former Soviet Union who is now head of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, a think tank with ties to the Russian military, said that surveillance in foreign waters was the normal practice of many navies but that it was very unlikely that a Russian submarine was currently in Swedish waters.

“Judging by the available information, there was no submarine. Had there been a submarine stranded in Swedish waters, and if it had been sighted surfacing and heard giving audio transmissions, it would be found in 3-4 hours maximum,” he told TIME.

Magnus Nordenman, deputy director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security in Washington, D.C., suggests that the presence of a clandestine vessel in the Nordic region would certainly fit within recent Russian practices. “It’s one more data point in a larger pattern,” Nordenman says. “Over the past three years, and especially in the last year, the Russians have made more and more incursions into Swedish airspace. There have been close calls between their ships too.”

And it’s not just the Swedes who are the target. In March, Russia staged a large-scale military drill close to the Finnish border, and its fighter jets have violated Finnish airspace five times already this year. In 2013, Russian jets challenged Danish airspace more than 40 times—double the number of the previous year—and are on track to surpass that number this year. “I keep arguing that the Baltic Sea area is the next friction point between an assertive Russia and NATO,” says Nordenman. “It looks like a peaceful, prosperous area, but when it comes to security, it’s quite soft.”

Ironically, part of that softness comes precisely from the distance that the Nordic countries have tried to put between themselves and the Cold War era. With threats to their territorial integrity greatly diminished, Sweden and Denmark have, in recent years, made the strategic decision to dedicate the better part of their military budgets toward establishing a global presence (in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places). As a result, Sweden has reduced its number of submarines to just five; Denmark has gotten rid of them altogether. “In part, it was symbolic,” says Johannes Nordby, a commander in the Danish navy and security expert at the Royal Danish Defence College. “Submarines represented a Cold War weapon, and the Cold War was over.”

Or so the Nordics thought. With the conflict in Ukraine, Putin has made clear his desire to both re-establish a broader sphere of Russian influence and to stand up to NATO and the European Union. “The Cold War was a political and ideological war as much as it was a military one, and we don’t have those [elements] now,” says Nordby. “But it was also about influence. I would argue that what’s happening now is a sign of Russia wanting a new and more significant role in the Baltic region, and internationally.”

Russia’s increased assertiveness is already influencing political debate in the Nordic region. Neither Finland nor Sweden are members of NATO, and with public opinion running strongly against, neither shows any immediate inclination to join. But both signed a pact in August that would increase their cooperation with the alliance, and would allow NATO troops to assist in the two countries in case of emergencies, and there may be more concessions to come. “If the submarine proves to be Russian,” says Harri Mikkola, a global security researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, “it will further increase security policy discussions in Finland. Nato discussion will intensify, but even more so the discussion concerning the need to deepen military cooperation with Sweden.” And this week, while debates broke out in the Danish press about Denmark’s military preparedness, the Swedish Prime Minister announced he would increase defense spending.

But if history is any example, none of that will likely help capture the unidentified vessel currently hiding in Swedish waters. During the Cold War, Soviet submarines reportedly made numerous incursions into the country’s territory, but with the exception of one that ran aground in 1981, none were ever caught. Which is why Admiral Grenstad probably had the past in mind when he announced to the press on Tuesday that his navy would continue the search. “It’s like Jesus,” he said. “Everyone knows who he is but no one has seen him.”

With additional reporting from Simon Shuster/Moscow

Read next: Canadian Soldier Killed Outside Parliament in Ottawa

TIME ebola

Spain’s Ebola Case Exposes Gap in Disease Defenses

A Spanish nurse infected with Ebola is moved to Carlos III Hospital from Alcorcon Hospital on Oct. 7, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.
A Spanish nurse infected with Ebola is moved to Carlos III Hospital from Alcorcon Hospital on Oct. 7, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno—Getty Images

Despite rigorous checks and protocols, a nursing assistant in Madrid still contracted the disease from a sick patient

When two Spanish missionaries working in Sierra Leone contracted Ebola and were evacuated to Madrid’s Carlos III hospital, city officials and the country’s health minister assured a nervous public that the hospital’s strict protocols would prevent transmission of the virus to health workers and other patients.

But something went wrong. A 40-year-old nursing assistant has become the first person to contract the disease outside of Africa after helping care for one of the missionaries, Manuel García Viejo, before his death on Sept. 25. The nurse, who has not been named by the hospital, was infected despite being fully outfitted with two layers of protective gear on the two occasions she helped treat him. She also reported to the hospital that she was suffering from a fever a full week before she was admitted to a highly secure isolation ward early Tuesday morning. At this point no one knows exactly where a mistake was made. But the fact that the hospital’s rigorous checks couldn’t prevent the nursing assistant from becoming sick raises the question: is Europe less prepared for Ebola than it thinks?

“It came as a true surprise, and a stunning one,” says Máximo González Jurado, president of the General Nursing Council (CGE), which represents Spain’s nurses. “We thought we were well prepared, and that the risk—even if it can’t be zero—was minimal. After all, we have very good, very modern health care. Spain has the seventh best health care system in the world.”

At Hospital Carlos III, the 30 health workers who had contact with the infected missionaries donned double layers of head-to-toe protective gear each time they entered the isolation room where the patients were housed. They were also required to take their own temperatures twice daily during the 21-day incubation period for the disease. It was through that protocol that the infected nurse first reported on Sept. 30th that she had a temperature of 38.6 C (101.5 F).

For reasons that are still unclear—possibly because the fever was relatively low, but perhaps because in its early stages, Ebola’s viral count can be too low for detection—the disease was ruled out. Like Thomas Eric Duncan, the visiting Liberian who presented himself at a Dallas hospital on Sept. 25, the nurse was sent home. On vacation from work, she stayed there until an ordinary ambulance brought her to her neighborhood hospital on Oct. 6 with a fever that was by then raging.

“It would have been better if she had entered the hospital on the 30th,” Fernando Simón, emergencies coordinator for the Health Ministry, admitted to the press. But that possible mistake is not the only one under scrutiny. In August, a male nurse at Hospital La Paz, which is affiliated with Carlos III, wrote an anonymous post for the blog of the Madrid Association of Independent Nursing, in which he complained that the staff was not sufficiently trained in Ebola protocols, and that it had not performed any simulations of Ebola treatment by the time the two missionaries arrived.

It’s a complaint repeated by González, the nursing council’s president. “In the case of avian influenza A, the government formed a crisis cabinet, there was exhaustive information available to the public and complete training for health professionals,” he said. “That was not the case with Ebola. According to the information we have, the staff were not receiving the kind of in-depth training they should have.” Those who cared for the two missionaries were not isolated, a protocol that has since changed with the nurse’s case.

“We don’t do many simulations in Spain, and we need to, we need to professionalize this more,” says Dr. Antoni Trilla, epidemiologist at the Hospital Clinic of the University of Barcelona. “It’s only through achieving real verisimilitude that you discover the flaws in your protocols.” He should know: his hospital has had two Ebola scares, both of which turned out to be negative. But the cases enabled the hospital to improve, for example, its procedure for one of the most dangerous moments of care: removing protective gear after contact with the infected.

But even improved training has its limits, especially for a disease so highly infectious as Ebola. “What we know from the situation of healthcare workers in west Africa is that it is sometimes actually people who appear to have taken all the precautions that fall ill,” says David Moore, Professor of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.“They may have dropped their guard when removing protective gear or in disposing of a dead body. In west Africa, they learnt that lesson the painful way.”

Caregivers in Europe are likely to learn that lesson too. “It’s unavoidable that there will be other cases like this,” says Zsuzsanna Jakab, European regional director for the World Health Organization. “But Europe—and especially the European Union—is well prepared. I would even say it’s the best prepared region.”

It may need to be. So long as air travel continues to and from the three countries in west Africa worst affected by the disease, the risk of further outbreaks remains high. With nearly 30% of the air passengers leaving Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone flying to Europe, the risk of more cases appearing in Europe is real—and growing. A study published in the scientific journal PLoS on Oct. 6 put the risk of Ebola being imported to France by October 24 at 75% and to the UK at 50%. The results were based on levels of air traffic.

It’s healthcare workers like the Spanish nursing assistant who will likely be worst affected. The unnamed woman was in a stable condition as of Tuesday evening, and is receiving immunotherapy in the form of a serum made from the blood of an Ebola patient who recovered. Three people, including the nurse’s husband, have now been placed in quarantine, with medical staff who treated her under observation, and contact tracing of friends and family. But even if she remains an isolated case, others are sure to follow. “We’re never going to see this become an epidemic among the general public in Europe,” says Dr. Trilla. “But there is definitely a risk for medical personnel. They’re the ones I worry about.”

— With reporting by Naina Bajekal / London

TIME norway

Why Nobody Wants to Host the 2022 Winter Olympics

Canadian forward Sidney Crosby (87) and
Canadian forward Sidney Crosby (87) and Canadian defenseman Scott Niedermayer (27) jubilate as their team wins gold against the USA in the Men's Gold Medal Hockey match at the Canada Hockey Place during the XXI Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada on February 28, 2010. Yuri Kadobnov—AFP/Getty Images

Hosting the Games is too expensive

Nobody wants to let the Games begin.

On Oct. 1, Oslo withdrew its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, making it the fourth city — after Stockholm, Lviv and Krakow — to have second thoughts about hosting the Games. With only Beijing and the Kazakh city of Almaty left in the running, the International Olympic Committee now faces the difficult task of choosing between two undemocratic nations with less-than-stellar human-rights records. But Norway’s decision suggests that if the IOC hopes to stem the tide of unwilling hosts, it faces an even more difficult task: reforming itself.

Why doesn’t anyone want the Olympics? Price is a good place to start. The $448,000 cost of the first modern Games, held in Athens in 1896, wouldn’t cover a single Danny Boyle–choreographed opening ceremony these days. The total bill for Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Games came to $6.4 billion, while London’s summertime turn in 2012 cost over $14 billion. Sochi, whose venues and infrastructure had to be built pretty much from scratch, rang in at an anomalous but no less heart-stopping $51 billion.

Those kinds of numbers help explain why even a wealthy nation like Norway would reconsider its candidacy. Although Oslo budgeted a comparatively sober $5.4 billion, and even though the ruling Conservative party initially backed Oslo’s bid, concerns over ballooning costs grew strong enough to chip away at the government’s support. Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Prime Minister Erna Solberg confirmed that her government would not continue to pursue the Games.

“We’ve received clear advice and there is no reason not to follow the advice,” Solberg told the press. “A big project like this, which is so expensive, requires broad popular support and there isn’t enough support for it.”

Those same concerns were echoed in Sweden earlier this year. “The city of Stockholm needed time to investigate whether the estimated costs were realistic,” says Markus Jonsson, press officer for the Moderate party in Stockholm’s city hall. “But there wasn’t enough time.”

Lviv dropped out because of the unstable conditions in Ukraine. But for the other wavering contenders, including St. Moritz and Munich, which as late as November 2013 was still weighing a 2022 bid, a growing awareness of the true costs of hosting the Games played an important role in their decisions not to compete. And on top of concerns over cost, there were fears over benefits too.

“People used to think ‘We can get sports arenas paid for by American TV revenues, so why not?’” says Harry Arne Solberg, sports-economics professor at Norway’s Trondheim Business School. “But that’s never been the case. Now they’re more realistic.”

Although the IOC contributes some funds and politicians frequently dangle the promises of jobs, tourist dollars and brand-new infrastructure in front of their constituencies, the Olympics rarely deliver that kind of return on their investment in developed nations. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Games typically create anywhere from 50,000 to 300,000 jobs, but most of those jobs are temporary and go to people who already have work (only 10% of the 48,000 jobs created by the London Olympics, for example, went to previously unemployed people). In a country like Norway, where unemployment is currently just 3.4%, that effect is mitigated even more. “The work and analysis that were done concluded that there would have been benefits,” says Ingunn Olsen, communications director for the Oslo2022 campaign. “But they would not have balanced the cost of the Games.”

Indeed, hosting the Games may only make economic sense these days for developing economies that can benefit from the very specific kind of boost that an Olympics can offer. “The real cost of the Games — the operating expenses, the upgrade to existing facilities — that will be paid off,” says Holger Preuss, professor of sports management at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. “But the infrastructure costs will not. If you need new sports facilities, if you need new roads and railways, then it’s O.K. But if you don’t need general infrastructure, you shouldn’t bid. The Olympics are not about making money. If you want to make money, invest in an oil platform.”

The IOC did not hide its displeasure with Norway’s decision. “Senior politicians in Norway appear not to have been properly briefed on the process and were left to take their decisions on the basis of half-truths and factual inaccuracies,” said IOC executive director Christophe Dubi in a press release issued in response. “For a country of such means, full of so many successful athletes and so many fanatical winter-sports fans, it is a pity that Oslo will miss out on this great opportunity to invest in its future and show the world what it has to offer.”

But some Norwegians, among others, suggest that the IOC is in no position to be pointing fingers. On the same day that the Norwegian Prime Minister announced her government was withdrawing its support for the campaign, Norwegian paper VG ran a story that detailed the IOC’s hospitality requirements as outlined in its contract. In the fiercely egalitarian country, the headline “IOC Requires Free Liquor at the Stadium and a Cocktail Party With the King” was sure to ruffle feathers among a population that, polls showed, was already predisposed against the Games. “Many of the requirements of the IOC do not harmonize with the Norwegian way of thinking and living,” says Oslo2022’s Olsen.

The IOC has come under increased scrutiny in recent years for both its perceived extravagance and its lack of transparency. Although governments contribute financially to its coffers, it remains a private organization whose accounting remains off the public record and whose members are appointed rather than democratically elected. In 2008, the British think tank One World Trust rated the IOC the least transparent of 30 international organizations, including NATO and Goldman Sachs.

IOC bosses also set the standards for who makes what from the Olympics. “If you look at the 1980s, TV rights were auctioned by the local host, which kept 90% of the revenues,” says Solberg. “Now 68% of sponsorships and TV revenues are kept by the IOC.”

Solberg believes that fewer host competitors will pressure the IOC to change. In fact, Thomas Bach, IOC president for just a year, has promised to do just that. In December, the committee is expected to vote on a package of changes that would make the bidding process easier and the sports program more flexible. It would also lower the cost of hosting the Games.

But that won’t come soon enough for sober Norway. Although Bach said at a press conference on Oct. 2 that the IOC would not reopen the bidding, he couldn’t hide his disappointment at being left with two less-than-ideal candidates. “All this shows that this was very much a political decision,” Bach he said. “This why we are feeling so sorry for sport in Norway and the athletes.” The same could be said for the Olympics as a whole.

TIME Culture

Check Out These Throwback Black-and-White Photos of Organic Farmers

Using 19th-century techniques, a photographer takes a nostalgic look at a movement many consider to be the future of food.

You know organic food has hit its moment when it gets its own version of baseball cards. In photographer Francesco Mastalia’s book Organic, the Hudson Valley farmers who raise their plants and animals without synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers, and the chefs who cook with and celebrate their produce, get the star treatment.

The geographic focus makes sense: Because of both its rich farming history and its proximity to New York City, the Hudson Valley is one of the country’s hot spots for organic and farm-to-table agriculture. But it’s the dreamy portraits in this book, accompanied by brief texts from their subjects explaining what “organic” means to them (many of them have rejected the official certification offered by the USDA), that really stand out.

Mastalia uses a 19th-century process called wet-plate collodion that allows him, as Gail Buckland puts it in her introduction, “to make photographs the same way photographers did 150 years ago” just as “the farmers in the book are growing vegetables and raising cattle the way their forebears did 150 years ago.”

That sepia-tinged approach may ignore some the innovations and forward-thinking that characterizes much of the best organic farming and cooking, but for anyone who likes their locally-grown, pesticide-free carrots with a dusting of nostalgia, Organic is tasty indeed.

TIME Travel

Copenhagen: What to See and What to Skip

The world's best restaurant "Noma" in Copenhagen on May 5, 2014.
Tivoli gardens seen at night on July 12, 2012. Jean-Pierre Lescourre—Corbis

Denmark's capital may be expensive but it's worth it

On paper, Copenhagen sounds too good to be true. For years now the Danish capital has been heralded for its design-consciousness, trumpeted as the globe’s most sustainable and bike-friendly city, venerated as a culinary destination that houses the best restaurant in the world, and held up as home to the world’s happiest people. In truth, this supposed urban utopia does have some flaws: ridiculously high prices and a tragic lack of decent Mexican restaurants among them. But from its striking architecture to its happening cocktail bars to its abundant green space, Copenhagen comes pretty close to the platonic ideal of a city.

What to See

Copenhagen - Black Diamond
View of the modern waterfront extension to the Royal Danish Library The Black Diamond in Copenhagen on April 18, 2014. Nicole Becker—dpa/Corbis

Tivoli Gardens completely lives up to its hype. The amusement park’s old-school rides (including a century-old roller coaster) are tucked between flowering gardens and outdoor cafés right in the city center, making it charming in a way that Six Flags will never be. For more modern design, check out the Design Museum, which will teach you more about the chair than you thought possible, or simply take in some of the city’s more gorgeous buildings, like its soaring Opera House, or the Black Diamond, a dramatically angled building that also houses the Danish Royal Library. The National Gallery houses an excellent collection that runs from Rembrandt to the avant-garde Asger Jorn, but for contemporary art, the Louisiana Art Museum, overlooking the Oresund Sound, is a quick 35-minutes by train away and hard to beat.

Christiansborg palace where the Danish parliament resides April 28, 2014.
Christiansborg palace where the Danish parliament resides April 28, 2014. Francis Dean—Deanpictures/Corbis

Back in town, fans of the gripping political TV drama Borgen can see where fictional Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg went to work each day at Christiansborg Palace, which houses all three branches of the national government, as well as some royal reception halls. But the city’s other famous female resident, the Little Mermaid, can safely be skipped. The harborside statue of native Hans Christian Andersen’s aquatic heroine may be one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, but it is also disconcertingly small and of questionable artistic value.

Where to Eat and Drink

The world's best restaurant "Noma" in Copenhagen on May 5, 2014.
The world’s best restaurant “Noma” in Copenhagen on May 5, 2014. Joerg Carstensen—Corbis

You might as well start at the top. Noma has been voted best restaurant in the world four times for its artful, delicious “New Nordic” cuisine, which relies solely on pristine ingredients from the region. Reservations can be hard to come by (try requesting them for lunch instead of dinner), but happily, chefs who formerly worked at Noma have been opening their own restaurants in recent years. At the casual Relæ, Christian Puglisi treats the ingredients on his vegetable-heavy menu with a gentle hand but an innovative eye, while at Amass, American chef Matt Orlando is so deeply in tune with the seasons that he changes the rustic-looking but technically-sophisticated dishes on his tasting menu almost daily. Not all of Copenhagen’s gustatory pleasures are so high-end, however. Smørrebrod, the open-faced sandwich that is the most typical of Danish foods, is elevated to a complex art at Schønnemann. And Copenhageners have been packing the recently-opened Papirøen, where stalls sell all manner of street food, from Moroccan merguez sausages to German apple pancakes. It’s a much more interesting option than the city’s one indigenous form of food truck, the omnipresent pølser wagons, or hot dog carts.

Not all of the city’s gustatory pleasures require chewing. Coffee Collective is renowned among coffee geeks, and Atelier September makes an exquisite matcha tea. Mikkeller serves up some of the best, if quirkiest, artisanal beers in Europe, and the city positively swims in personable wine bars like Ved Stranden, Den Vandrette, and Sabotøren. And there is no shortage of cozy cocktail bars either. Ruby specializes in the classics.

Tourboats in Nyhavn Canal Copenhagen
Tourboats in Nyhavn Canal on in Copenhagen on May 7, 2011. MyLoupe/Universal Image Group/Getty Images

What to Do

Much of Strøget, the world’s longest pedestrian shopping street, is given over to high street brands like Zara, but there are some quintessentially Danish jewels there too, like Hay and Illium Bolighus, both of which sell irresistible, beautifully-designed housewares. The Torvehallerne market is great for shopping of a more edible sort, with an outdoor produce market and indoor stalls selling everything from cakes to sushi. A canal tour is the most popular option for seeing Copenhagen’s many waterways, but a DIY version, via kayak, gets you even closer.

City electric bikes are for rent for visitors at central station on April 24, 2014 in Copenhagen. Francis Dean—Corbis

And in a city with over 390 kilometers of dedicated lanes, you may as well give in to peer pressure and rent a bike; it’s the most scenic way to get to Amager Strandpark beach south of the city, and the rolling deer park, Dyrehave, to the north. The restaurants and cafes of Nyhavn are thoroughly missable, specializing as they do in serving over-priced, mediocre food and drink to generally drunk tourists. But the pastel houses lining the harbor there are just as picturesque as the postcards suggest, especially on those long summer days when the clear northern light illuminates this lovely, near-perfect city.

TIME Spain

Heavy Lies The Crown for New King of Spain

SPAIN-ROYALS-FILES
Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and Spain's King Juan Carlos salute Spain's Queen Sofia during the Pascua Militar ceremony at the Royal Palace in Madrid on January 6, 2014. Dominique Faget—AFP/Getty Images

Felipe has the possibility to do far more than improve the fortunes of a declining monarchy

Just after one o’clock in the morning on Feb. 23, 1981, while most of the country’s legislators cowered beneath their desks, a young King Juan Carlos appeared on television screens across Spain. Dressed in his army uniform, he denounced an attempted coup then underway on the floor of Parliament by armed military officers intent on returning the country to a rightwing dictatorship. That act of political courage would not only bring the insurrection to a quick and bloodless end, but would cement the king’s reputation for decades to come. Britain might chortle at a prince given to dialing in distasteful endearments to a woman not (then) his wife, and Monaco might mock a princess given to body guards and elephant trainers. But for decades after Juan Carlos assumed the throne in 1975, Spain largely respected and admired its monarch. Yet even the memory of heroism can’t withstand expensive, indiscreet travels and a money-skimming son-in-law, at least not at a time of dire economic crisis. In recent years, the king’s reputation has been profoundly damaged, and with it, the monarchy’s. The abdication Juan Carlos announced Monday, after 39 years of rule, was quite possibly the best option left to him for preserving it.

By abdicating in favor of his son Felipe, Juan Carlos has tapped the one adult member of the royal family—apart from his wife Queen Sofia—who still ranks high in the public’s esteem. With a Master’s degree in international relations from Georgetown University, and an apparently happy marriage that has produced two adorably media-friendly young girls, Felipe seems well-prepared for the role of modern monarch. Perhaps more importantly, he has avoided the scandals that have plagued his siblings Elena (divorce) and Cristina (alleged embezzlement and influence-peddling), and his father (breaking a hip while on a secret elephant-hunting trip in Botswana with a woman who is not his wife). A January survey conducted by the Spanish polling firm Sigma Dos gave the crown prince an approval rating of 66% (versus his father’s 41%); 57% of those polled said they believed he could restore the crown’s prestige.

But Felipe has the possibility to do far more than improve the fortunes of a declining monarchy. The crisis in Spain, after all, is not just economic—it’s also political, with deep and broad corruption permeating every level of government. Witness the Gurtel case, in which dozens of leading officials in the region of Valencia have been charged with bribery and money laundering. Or the Barcenas case, in which a former treasurer for the ruling Popular Party has admitted to maintaining secret accounts through which he supplemented the salaries of the party’s upper echelons. That’s without mentioning the Infanta Cristina and her husband Iñaki Urdangarin, indicted for using their purportedly not-for-profit Noós Institute to allegedly embezzle some 8 million euros, mostly from government contracts.

Exacerbating the sense of decay in Spain is the lack of strong alternatives for political leadership. The prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, is a technocrat who own approval ratings stand at about 22%. The uncharismatic opposition leader, Alberto Rubalcaba, is an old-school Socialist who just resigned in the face of his own party’s catastrophic showing in the European Union elections on May 25. In fact, Spaniards are so desperate for change that in those elections they denied both the Socialists and the Popular Party a majority for the first time in the country’s 35 years of democracy. Instead, they gave 8% of the vote—and five seats in the European parliament—to an upstart, anti-austerity, anti-establishment party called Podemos (We Can) that was founded just three months ago.

And here’s where Felipe, with his 66% approval rating, comes in. Other monarchs have used their influence to lessen tensions or ameliorate their domestic political situation. Although Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej recently threw his support behind the leader of a military coup in the country, he had previously, and for many years, defused tensions in his country by forcing the military to talk with the protestors who opposed them. King Albert II more than once prevented the collapse of Belgium’s often fragile government by bringing opposing political leaders back to the bargaining table.

So imagine this: A newly coronated King Felipe announces that transparency will be his first order of business. To that end, he will open all of the palace’s accounts to full public scrutiny. (In an attempt to improve its image the palace recently announced it would voluntarily adhere to Spain’s new transparency law, but with many loopholes.) He will demand that his sister and brother-in-law, if found guilty, face the same punishment of any other Spaniard. And he will encourage all of Spain’s institutions to follow suit, to embrace transparency and adopt zero tolerance for corruption.

Would it work? Although he has begun assuming more responsibilities as his father’s health has declined, Felipe is largely untested. Many Spaniards greeted Monday’s news of abdication with a rally in favor of republicanism. But many of those same people, like every Spaniard over the age of 40, remember the night 33 years ago when it seemed more than likely that, after the briefest of flirtations with democracy, the country would revert back to the authoritarianism it knew best.

For the fact that it didn’t, Spain has a king to thank.

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