Swiss Election

SVP ELECTION POSTER. PHOTO: QTEA. FLICKR

Switzerland – Stuck in the Middle?

The elections for the national Swiss council took place on October 23 2011. What has changed and what can be expected from the “stubborn” country in the middle of Europe?

This year, a modest but constant leftist- wave has started to overrun central Europe. Starting in the city elections of Hamburg and Berlin and then in national elections of Denmark, “Social Democrats have lost votes even though they succeeded in defending (Berlin/ Hamburg) or capturing (Denmark) political power”, concludes Christian Levrat, president of the Swiss Social Democrats, “and I am very satisfied that we could achieve the same in Switzerland.”

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Juliano Mer-Khamis

JULIANO MER-KHAMIS. PHOTO: BADUMS. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

The conflict in Israel is one still causing great tragedy for its inhabitants today. Beginning when the state was founded after the Second World War, many see no end to the turmoil caused by the division between the Israeli and Palestinians. Juliano Mer-Khamis, a half-Palestinian, half-Israeli actor, director, playwright and political activist, sought an end to the conflict through the arts. For that, he was brutally murdered.

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Hugo Chávez

HUGO CHÁVEZ IN PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL. PHOTO: AGÊNCIA BRASIL. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Yesterday, Today and Beyond

- A Portrait of the Charismatic President of Venezuela

Closing down radio channels, passing laws confining the liberty of the press, and being accused of an alliance with the FARC guerrillas and squandering Venezuelan oil money like it was his own possession. Still he is the most well known president of the Latin American countries and is compared to the sainted Evita Perón. How is this possible?

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Multiculturalism

KINA CANDY BAR FROM FAZER. FEATURES THE CARICATURE OF AN ASIAN GIRL WITH DISTINCTLY SLANTED EYES, BRIGHT YELLOW SKIN AND A WIDE GRIN. PHOTO: JEMUFO. FLICKR.

- Part of the racist problem

A Rice-picking Chinese girl? A Wine swilling Aboriginal man? They are just the tip of the iceberg.

In Copenhagen airport there is a shirtless, bearded Indigenous Australian man. His face is painted and he appears generally unrefined, except for the glass of red wine held beneath his lips. The historical context of two hundred years of colonialism is neatly sidestepped. Here he is, the poster boy for both an Australian restaurant in the city and of the prickly debate surrounding cultural difference and multiculturalism in the Western world.

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A Snapshot from Poland

JANUSZ PALIKOT, A BUSINESSMAN AND POLITICIAN. PHOTO: REPORTER DZIENNIKA INTERNETOWEGO. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS- Human Rights, Religion and Politics

When it comes to human rights, and the lack thereof, it is usually dictatorships in other parts of the world that come to mind. It is easy to forget that these complex questions may just as well surface in Europe; for example Poland, a stable democracy with strong Catholic roots, also has some human rights issues on the political agenda, much due to incompatibility between cultural-religious traditions and the contemporary, more liberal trends in human rights.

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The Palestinian Refugee

ROOFTOPS OF ASKAR REFUGEE CAMP. NABLUS, WEST BANK. PHOTO: MICHAEL LOADENTHAL. FLICKR- 63 YEARS OF CONTINUOUS STRUGGLE

By May 15, 1948, the Zionists’ militia forced approximately 700,000 Palestinians (1) to leave their homes in the historic land of Palestine. Currently there are over 4.7 million registered Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, and the passing of time has not weakened their struggle for getting the right of return. As an example, on May 15, 2011, many Palestinian refugees from Lebanon were killed, and another 120 were injured, by Israeli forces during demonstrations at the Lebanese border.The Israeli forces fired towards Palestinian demonstrators who were protesting by throwing stones from Lebanon and trying to raise the Palestinian flag on the border. Referring to Palestinian refugees, Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion said that “the old will die and the young will forget”. Recently, current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outright refused discussion of the right of return for Palestinian refugees. 

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Failure of the Greek Asylum System

Asylum-seekers, being in that vulnerable position, could be seen as the subject par excellence of the human rights and most in need of a grid of protection. And to be sure, again and again their rights are violated. In Europe, a grim record of human rights violations, in the wake of the Dublin II regulation and the failure of the Greek asylum system, is being exposed. The human rights institutions have been harsh in their critique, but what has been achieved?

On 21 september 2010, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) declared the asylum situation in Greece a “humanitarian crisis”. The situation has been problematic for a long time. A large number of reports speak of a malfunctioning asylum system, unable to effectively determine the asylum claims being made, and a systematic practice of detaining asylum seekers for periods ranging from a few days to a few months without adequate information given as to the reasons for detention. Furthermore the detention facilities are reported as being overcrowded, unsanitary, and lacking in ventilation, mattresses and access to toilets.

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The Mother of Europe

GERMAN CHANCELLOR, ANGELA MERKEL. PHOTO: ALEPH, WIKIMEDIA COMMONSMassive budget deficits cause increased unemployment rates and poverty in big parts of the Euro-zone. While Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, promotes increased financial aid to the affected economies, she is facing domestic critique for giving away German billions. Others criticize her for not being efficient and decisive enough. But Merkel is determined in her belief: without the Euro there cannot be a Europe.

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Euro Orphans

"'EURO-ORPHANS'. 'EURO' BECAUSE THE PROBLEM IS ESPECIALLY FREQUENT IN THE NEWLY EU-AFFILIATED COUNTRIES." PHOTO: DSB NOLA. FLICKR

Over the past 20 years, Central Eastern Europe has been characterized by major historical events that have ultimately led up to great changes in the regions economical, political and social structures. The entry of numerous Eastern European states into the EU has facilitated for people to travel and move to other states. As there are still great inequalities between West and East, rich and poor, many Eastern Europeans decide to invest their life savings into building themselves and their children a better life at the opposite side of Europe. What is left unknown and rarely spoken of is that thousands of Eastern European children, the “Euro-orphans”, ultimately pay the highest price.

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The Strauss Kahn Affair

DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN. PHOTO: BIXINTX.FLICKR

The beginning of the end of “L’ Affaire DSK” has started. The legal procedures against him are more or less over, but the media coverage is not. His part in the presidential election this spring, along with his future in French politics is yet to be determined.

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