Category Archives: Europe

The town that’s found a potent cure for illness – community

It could, if the results stand up, be one of the most dramatic medical breakthroughs of recent decades. It could transform treatment regimes, save lives, and save health services a fortune. Is it a drug? A device? A surgical procedure? No, it’s a newfangled intervention called community. This week the results from a trial in the Somerset town of Frome are published informally, in the magazine Resurgence & Ecologist. (A scientific paper has been submitted to a medical journal and is awaiting peer review). We should be cautious about embracing data before it is published in the academic press, and must always avoid treating correlation as causation. But this shouldn’t stop us feeling a shiver of excitement about the implications, if the figures turn out to be robust and the experiment can be replicated.

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Posted by on March 2, 2018 in Europe


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The Guardian view on Oxfam: time to learn, not destroy

On 12 January 2010, a catastrophic 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti. One of the poorest countries in the world, it was utterly unprepared. Roads and bridges, hospitals and government buildings as well as thousands of homes collapsed or were severely damaged. At least 220,000 died – including more than 100 aid workers already in the country – and as many again were injured. Scores of aid agencies with hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of relief raced to bring help, each agency hastily recruiting hundreds of extra workers. Among these men and women of goodwill who were dispatched to organise medical help, to inoculate, feed and protect the thousands of vulnerable people were seven Oxfam employees who, it has now emerged, spent their time off procuring young, possibly underage, girls and women for sex. It is likely that some of their victims were reliant on the aid Oxfam provided, with donations collected on street corners and jumble sales in Britain. The enormity of employees of an organisation dedicated to ending poverty, hunger and social injustice hosting sex parties said to be of Caligulan proportions amid the wreckage of a humanitarian catastrophe is what turns a scandal into a crisis that could damage the whole UK charitable sector.

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Posted by on February 19, 2018 in Europe, South America


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Ukraine proposes a law that infuriates Russia

AFTER nearly four years of war in eastern Ukraine, and more than 10,000 deaths, reports from international monitors in the region sound like a grim broken record. On January 19th: 340 explosions. On January 20th: 240 explosions. On January 21st: 195 explosions and two middle-aged civilians hit by rifle fire while travelling in a bus near a separatist checkpoint in the town of Olenivka. “One had blood covering the left side of his face and was holding gauze to it and the other had gunshot wounds in his neck and left cheek,” the monitors from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) reported this week. One of the men ended up in hospital; the other died at the site of the attack.

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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Europe


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This is not a Corbynite coup, it’s a mandate for his radical agenda

Kings were put to death long before 21 January 1793,” wrote Albert Camus, referring to Louis XVI’s execution after the French revolution. “But regicides of earlier times and their followers were interested in attacking the person, not the principle, of the king. They wanted another king, and that was all.”

One of the biggest mistakes the critics of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, made from the outset – and there are many to choose from – was that his victory was about him. They refer to “Corbynites” and “Corbynistas” as though there were some undying and uncritical devotion to a man and his singular philosophy, rather than broad support for an agenda and a trajectory. If they could get rid of the king, went the logic, they would reinherit the kingdom. With a new leader normal service could resume. Labour could resuscitate its programme of milquetoast managerialism, whereby it was indifferent to its members, ambivalent about austerity at home, and hawkish about wars abroad.

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Posted by on January 19, 2018 in Europe



Lenin knew that revolution wouldn’t happen overnight – we must bear this in mind as capitalism fails us today

Perhaps the key achievement of Lenin was that he silently dropped the orthodox Marxist notion of revolution as a necessary step in historical progress. Instead he followed Louis Antoine Saint-Just’s insight that a revolutionary is like a seaman navigating in uncharted territories.

This was Lenin’s answer to the big problem of western Marxism: how is it that the working class does not constitute itself as a revolutionary agent? Western Marxism, at the time, was in a constant search for other social agents who could play the role of the revolutionary agent, as the understudy replacing the indisposed working class: third-world peasants, students and intellectuals; and the excluded … up to the refugees hailed today by some desperate leftists as “nomadic proletarians”.

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Posted by on January 15, 2018 in Europe


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May’s plastic plan is big on gimmicks, but it won’t cut waste

It’s as if it were written with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. In terms of rhetoric, Theresa May’s 25-year environment plan is in some ways the best government document I’ve ever read. In terms of policy, it ranges from the pallid to the pathetic.

Those who wrote it are aware of the multiple crises we face. But, having laid out the depth and breadth of our predicaments, they propose to do almost nothing about them. I can almost hear the internal dialogue: “Yes, let’s change the world! Hang on a minute, what about our commitment to slashing regulations? What about maximising economic growth? What would the Conservatives’ major funders have to say about it? Oh all right, let’s wave our hands around instead.”

The plan makes bold and stirring statements about the need to keep the soil on the land (it’s compacting and eroding at horrendous rates in the UK), then proposes only “working with the industry to update the 2001 guidance”, spending £200,000 on developing new metrics, and “investigating the potential” for research and monitoring. It would have been more honest to say: “We propose to nod sagely and look very serious.”

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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Europe


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Steve Bannon is going to be Robert Mueller’s greatest asset in the Trump-Russia investigation

Donald Trump and his cronies, blustering about the Russian investigation, do not see what is heading their way, Steve Bannon wanted to stress. “They are sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.” The gathering storm is likely to be even fiercer after the US President’s spectacular falling out with his former chief strategist and close ally.

In Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury, about this most extraordinary of presidencies, Bannon has a clear view of the direction special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Trump’s Moscow connections is taking. “This is about money laundering. Mueller chose Weissmann and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to f***ing Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face … They’re going to crack Don Jr like an egg on national TV.”


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Posted by on January 5, 2018 in Europe, North America


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Începuturi (II)

Singura jucărie pe care mi-o amintesc e o trăsură cu cai, care funcţiona cu baterii. În mod sigur mi-o imaginez mult mai mare şi mai frumoasă decît era. Oricum am stricat-o repede, curios fiind să văd cum funcţionează. Am primit-o de ziua mea de la naşă mea, o colegă de-ale mamei. Îmi amintesc că eram la Geta şi pentru prima dată m-au lăsat să fac focul în soba din camera unde dormeam. Felul în care trosneau bucăţile de lemne şi culoarea jarului au rămas în capul meu legate solid de ierni frumoase cu mîncare din plin şi vise multe şi bune.

Am trei poze, toate haioase, de la grădiniţă. Una, cu o colegă de grupă, nemţoaică, mai mare cu un cap decît mine şi cu un deficit vizibil de pigmentaţie a pielii, pe care eu îl compensez cu brio. Alta e o poză de grup cu toţi piticii. Şi în asta sînt cel mai negru. Şi ultima e de la o serbare la care am fost rege şi sînt îmbrăcat în mod potrivit pentru rol, avînd o coroană de hîrtie pe cap şi o capă făcută rapid dintr-o draperie mai veche. Peste vreo 30 şi ceva de ani, la un prînz memorabil cu fostul şi actualul rege Cioabă, nu m-am putut abţine şi am zis că în mod sigur şi eu aş putea să zic că am legitimitatea de a pretinde că sînt regele romilor din Caransebeş şi că am şi o poză prin care pot dovedi asta. Gluma nu a fost deloc apreciată, dar oricum nu am avut nicicînd vreo afinitate pentru liderii etniei.

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Posted by on January 1, 2018 in Europe



Playing to the audience: The televised suicide of Slobodan Praljak

The court rooms of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague have seen many a drama in the last twenty-four years, however nothing compared to the televised suicide of a defendant. And yet, this is what happened on 29 November 2017, at the end of the trial of six Bosnian Croats for crimes committed in Bosnia between 1992 and 1994. The judge, Carmel Agius, had just finished reading his verdict to the former general Slobodan Praljak, sentencing him to twenty years in prison, when the tall and imposing Praljak stood up, shouted at the judges and drank something from a small vial. One could see the other two defendants sitting next to him looking up in surprise, and the judge glancing over his reading glasses. At first, everyone took it as a typical case of the defendant causing a brief commotion before sitting back down or being accompanied out of the court room – like what happened recently with the Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladić. But soon a curtain was drawn and the court proceedings were interrupted. Live television transmission was suspended and Praljak was taken to hospital.

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Posted by on December 31, 2017 in Europe, European Union


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The Petro-Yuan Bombshell

The new 55-page “America First” National Security Strategy

(NSS), drafted over the course of 2017, defines Russia and China as “revisionist” powers, “rivals”, and for all practical purposes strategic competitors of the United States.

The NSS stops short of defining Russia and China as enemies, allowing for an “attempt to build a great partnership with those and other countries”. Still, Beijing qualified it as “reckless” and “irrational.” The Kremlin noted its “imperialist character” and “disregard for a multipolar world”. Iran, predictably, is described by the NSS as “the world’s most significant state sponsor of terrorism.”

Russia, China and Iran happen to be the three key movers and shakers in the ongoing geopolitical and geoeconomic process of Eurasia integration.

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Posted by on December 31, 2017 in Asia, Economy, Europe


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