From the tragic to the bizarre

“It could only happen in the United States” is a sentiment that people in other countries often express, usually accompanied with a shaking of the head. Germany too? Surely not! The Germans are way too sensible to do bizarre.

In the last week a severe cold front has caused havoc in Europe, and the death toll is mounting (it’s up to 220 at the time of writing this) as people succumb to the freezing temperatures. The thermometer dropped to minus 38°C in the Czech Republic one night.

The tragedy has been in the news a lot, with each report seeming to bring worse news.

The bizarre popped up a couple of days ago in the midst of all the chaos. The US and Germany are apparently the only two countries in the world that allow sponsorship of weather events. In a publicity stunt intended to show that the Mini Cooper is really cool, BMW in Germany decided to sponsor a cold front… as it happened, the one that’s now been responsible for so many deaths. They named it Cooper. Adding its own touch of the bizarre, The Age reported Mini stunt goes horribly wrong as if the sponsorship was somehow responsible for the severity of the weather. I guess they meant it went horribly wrong for BMW. In a more balanced article (if you’ll excuse their poor-taste pun) they filled in some detail: ‘Cooper’ weather in Europe leaves BMW in the cold.

In identically named articles SBS and The Age detail the tragedy of the extreme weather.

The Boston Globe, in its The Big Picture section, kind of combines the human tragedy and the natural beauty of a winter landscape in Extreme cold weather hits Europe. There are some beautiful scenes of snow and ice, but the human face of the disaster is shown, too, with a series of photos of homeless people coping with the weather.

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