RSS

Category Archives: European Union

Estonia, the Digital Republic

Up the Estonian coast, a five-lane highway bends with the path of the sea, then breaks inland, leaving cars to follow a thin road toward the houses at the water’s edge. There is a gated community here, but it is not the usual kind. The gate is low—a picket fence—as if to prevent the dunes from riding up into the street. The entrance is blocked by a railroad-crossing arm, not so much to keep out strangers as to make sure they come with intent. Beyond the gate, there is a schoolhouse, and a few homes line a narrow drive. From Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, you arrive dazed: trees trace the highway, and the cars go fast, as if to get in front of something that no one can see.

Within this gated community lives a man, his family, and one vision of the future. Taavi Kotka, who spent four years as Estonia’s chief information officer, is one of the leading public faces of a project known as e-Estonia: a coördinated governmental effort to transform the country from a state into a digital society.

E-Estonia is the most ambitious project in technological statecraft today, for it includes all members of the government, and alters citizens’ daily lives. The normal services that government is involved with—legislation, voting, education, justice, health care, banking, taxes, policing, and so on—have been digitally linked across one platform, wiring up the nation. A lawn outside Kotka’s large house was being trimmed by a small robot, wheeling itself forward and nibbling the grass.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/12/18/estonia-the-digital-republic

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 14, 2017 in European Union

 

Tags:

Europe’s Fastest-Growing Economy Could Be Headed for Trouble

Somewhere inside the vast shopping mall — beneath the roller coaster, across from the IMAX theater and down the corridor from the electronic casino — Anca Mariana Petculescu spotted an appealing pair of black leather boots.

She remembered her credit card debt. She recalled the expensive repairs needed on the heating system at her apartment. Then she thought of the extra 500 lei — about $130 — the government had just added to her monthly pension. She bought the boots.

“Shopping is like my therapy,” said Ms. Petculescu, 64, who retired five years ago from her accounting job at a state-owned telephone company. “To feel good, I buy.”

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 11, 2017 in European Union

 

Tags:

Today’s anti-fascist movement will do nothing to get rid of right-wing populism – it’s just panicky posturing

Marx’s formula of religion as the opium of the people needs some serious rethinking today. It is true that radical Islam is an exemplary case of religion as the opium of the people: a false confrontation with capitalist modernity which allows some fundamentalist Muslims to dwell in their ideological dream while their countries are ravaged by the effects of global capitalism – and exactly the same holds for Christian fundamentalism. However, there are today, in our Western world, two other versions of the opium of the people: the opium and the people.

As Laurent de Sutter demonstrated, chemistry (in its scientific version) is becoming part of us: large aspects of our lives are characterised by the management of our emotions by drugs, from everyday use of sleeping pills and antidepressants to hard narcotics. We are not just controlled by impenetrable social powers; our very emotions are “outsourced” to chemical stimulation.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/antifa-populism-white-nationalism-populism-brexit-donald-trump-alt-right-racism-a8097376.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 9, 2017 in European Union, North America

 

Tags:

What’s the matter with eastern Europe?

He was a rich businessman, an outspoken outsider with a love of conspiracy theories. And he was a populist running for president.

In 1990, when Donald Trump was still beyond the furthest outskirts of American politics, Stanislaw Tyminski was trying to become the new president of post-communist Poland. He shared something else with the future Trump: nobody in the political elite took Tyminski seriously.

That was a mistake. He was the standard-bearer for a virulent right-wing populism that would one day take power in Poland and control the politics of the region. He would be the first in a long line of underestimated buffoons of the post-Cold War era who started us on a devolutionary path leading to Donald Trump. Tyminski’s major error: his political backwardness was a little ahead of its time.

https://mondediplo.com/openpage/what-s-the-matter-with-eastern-europe

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 7, 2017 in European Union

 

Tags:

Religious wars

France has experienced a moment of political and media madness following the Harvey Weinstein affair. And all the ingredients are there for more of the same: disproportionate comments triggered by a cartoon in Charlie Hebdo of Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan (accused of rape); Twitter providing the ideal tool for reacting without thinking and starting the fire; religion-related issues providing fuel for it; grandstanding by a discredited politician (ex prime minister Manuel Valls) who thinks a wholesale attack on Muslims will revive his political career. And to top it all, the now established rule that every subject, even the sexual harassment of American women, will eventually come round to the question of Muslims in the French Republic.

https://mondediplo.com/2017/12/01wars

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 1, 2017 in European Union

 

Tags: , ,

I carabinieri rileggono il colonialismo fascista

Questa storia mostra come il passato coloniale dell’Italia e le violenze che hanno accompagnato le campagne militari fasciste continuino a essere oggetto di ricostruzioni inquietanti, anche su siti istituzionali.

Cercando informazioni sul web a proposito dell’invasione dell’Etiopia del 1935-1936, per esempio, ci si imbatte nella sezione Non tutti sanno che del sito dei carabinieri, rivolta “sia ai cultori della storia, ai quali principalmente sono diretti i documenti storici in formato integrale, sia a chi si avvicina per la prima volta all’arma ed ai valori che essa interpreta”.

Uno di questi documenti si intitola “24-25 aprile 1936. La battaglia di Gunu Gadu (Etiopia)” e riguarda una delle battaglie nella regione dell’Ogaden che precedettero la presa di Addis Abeba e la definitiva sconfitta dell’esercito etiope nel 1936, quando il paese fu posto sotto il controllo coloniale italiano.

https://www.internazionale.it/opinione/nicola-perugini/2017/11/27/carabinieri-colonialismo-fascismo

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 27, 2017 in European Union

 

Tags: , ,

The Refugee Scandal on the Island of Lesbos

Those wishing to visit ground zero of European ignominy must simply drive up an olive tree-covered hill on the island of Lesbos until the high cement walls of Camp Moria come into view. “Welcome to prison,” someone has spray-painted on the walls. The dreadful stench of urine and garbage greets visitors and the ground is covered with hundreds of plastic bags. It is raining, and filthy water has collected ankle-deep on the road. The migrants who come out of the camp are covered with thin plastic capes and many of them are wearing only flipflops on their feet as they walk through the soup. Children are crying as men jostle their way through the crowd.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/conditions-on-lesbos-worsen-for-refugees-and-residents-a-1180209.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 24, 2017 in European Union, Reportages

 

Tags: ,

Having lived in Belfast at the height of the Troubles, I see how Brexit could push us toward war in Ireland again

Warnings about the damaging impact on the Northern Ireland peace process of the return to a physical border between the north and the south post-Brexit understate the danger. Those issuing these warnings point to the problems posed by a hard border to relations between nationalist and unionist communities, to power sharing between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and to commerce within Ireland and between Britain and Ireland.

But the opposite of a peace process is a war process and this is not so far away as it might seem. Peace in Northern Ireland depends ultimately not so much on power sharing but on a complicated but stable balance of power between communities and it is this which is now being eroded by a Brexit-obsessed British Government.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-ireland-border-good-friday-agreement-war-again-patrick-cockburn-a8074456.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Europe, European Union

 

Tags: , ,

Începuturi

Stăteam într-un bloc în Pipirig, un cartier urît şi murdar din Caransebeş. Cel puţin aşa spune mama, pentru că eu îmi amintesc doar frînturi. Construcţii, mult noroi, băltoace şi butoaie în care muncitorii topeau smoală, folosind cauciucuri vechi care ardeau cu un fum negru şi foarte înecăcios. Stăteam la etajul 3 şi nu era lumină pe scară. Dormeam pe un fotoliu care se întindea şi uram să mă duc la grădiniţă. Am o poză de la grădiniță împreună cu colegii şi eram de departe cel mai negrişor. Nu ţin minte însă de ce nu îmi plăcea acolo.

Descoperisem că, dacă mă văitam că mă doare burta sau capul, mamei i se făcea milă şi mă lăsa să stau acasă.

Cel mai tare îmi plăcea să mă duc la fetele vecinei de la etajul 4 şi să mă dau pe scîndura de călcat ca pe un tobogan. Mama lor, o nemţoaică ţeapănă, era croitoreasă, gătea bine-bine şi făcea nişte prăjituri minunate. Gerlinde era căsătorită cu domnul Toma şi aveau doua fete: Anne şi Sibi.

http://dilemaveche.ro/sectiune/tilc-show/articol/inceputuri-1

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 24, 2017 in European Union

 

Tags:

Germany’s crisis means uncertainty for Europe. But it won’t be fatal

The collapse of Germany’s coalition talks is the latest shock to hit Europe. No one saw it coming. Of course the blow is of a different nature from the banking crisis, the war in Ukraine, the refugee crisis, Brexit, Trump, Poland and Hungary’s democratic backsliding, or Catalan secessionism. Germany’s politics look upended but the fundamentals are still in place: the postwar democratic set-up is hardly under threat. Still, this is rattling stuff. Europe’s powerhouse is in unknown political territory at a time when so much remains unresolved across the continent. And Germany’s political uncertainty means yet more uncertainty for the EU. Yet doomsayers shouldn’t assume that this crisis has to be fatal.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/21/germany-political-crisis-uncertainty-europe-macron

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 24, 2017 in European Union

 

Tags: ,