24
Dec

With the results of Spain’s election on Sunday, a tumultuous 2015 for Europe is ending on a stinging note that underscores Germany’s increasing isolation and Europe’s deepening division.

Spain’s voters followed those in Portugal and Greece this year in punishing a conservative government that had allied with Brussels, Berlin and international creditors in carrying out the austerity policies pushed as the solution to Europe’s debt crisis.

After the Spanish vote, Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, a center-leftist who had built a good relationship with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, renewed his attack on austerity and, quite nearly, Ms. Merkel personally, effectively blaming her policies for the rise of populism across Europe. Read more...

Published on Dec. 22 in www.nytimes.com

16
Dec

Thousands of people on a march for global climate justice in Paris

The climate accord reached by 195 countries in Paris on Saturday, which aims to halt global warming within this century, is being heralded by many world leaders, climate scientists, and news organizations as the turning point in the fight against human-induced climate change. The Guardian even went so far as to call the agreement the “end of the fossil fuel era,” as did activist leaders like May Boeve, the executive director of the environmentalist organization 350.org. In remarks celebrating the accord, President Obama said that the agreement was “the best chance we’ve had to save the one planet that we’ve got,” and that it showed “what’s possible when the world stands as one.” He also declared that the resulting deal “establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis.”

However, many proponents of the plan agree that its value is more about symbolism and hoped-for gains than near-term substance, and critics are zooming in on the agreement’s lack of legal teeth, as well as how optimistic it seems to be about future international cooperation, technological advancement, and the sustained domestic will within each country. Much of the agreement was reportedly made deliberately vague so as to avoid hurdles like the Republican-controlled Senate. According to climate scientists, the voluntary emissions-reduction plans already fall far short of the agreement’s goal of keeping the world temperature less than 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by the year 2100.

 

Read more…

 

Published on December 13, 2015

http://nymag.com

15
Dec

Marine Le Pen, Postponed

Written on December 15, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Democracy & Human Rights, Europe, Op Ed

The good news, on Sunday night, was that the National Front failed to win any of the 13 French regions. The prospect of seeing the far-right party’s leader, the bellicose Marine Le Pen, as chairwoman of the northern region, or her young equally pugnacious niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, as head of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in the south, had evaporated.

One week earlier, after the first round of regional elections, their party had achieved unprecedented results, reaching 40 percent of the vote in those two regions and scoring a national average of 27.7 percent, ahead of all other parties. On Sunday, French voters rallied to stop them. Many who had stayed away for the first round eventually turned up for the second round.

10
Dec

Young typhoon survivor’s message on climate change

Written on December 10, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Energy & Environment

Marinel speaking at COP21

Thousands of people are taking part in the COP21 climate change conference in Paris.

They’re looking for global solutions for how to tackle the problem. It’s been taking place every year since 1992.

Eighteen-year-old Marinel from the Philippines is one of the young activists addressing the conference.

Dear world leaders,

I’m Marinel and I survived one of the biggest tragedies the Philippines has ever experienced: Typhoon Haiyan.

I was 16-years-old when it happened. I witnessed how hard life is after such a disaster.

I can still hear the weeping of children nearby and the elders’ prayers for help. We had to sleep under the rain in our house without walls. I had to eat spoilt food and drink dirty water. The phones were down for weeks.

Our place was isolated for days because it had been reported no-one in our village had survived. Our relatives and friends desperately tried to reach us but couldn’t get through.

They thought that we were all dead.

Our house was destroyed and our belongings were washed out by the water.

All my books, clothes, my school uniform and also my hidden wealth – my school medals, certificates and books.

After Haiyan I wondered if life would ever be the same again and if I would be able to continue my studies since our school was also damaged.

Read more…

Published on Dec. 10th in http://www.bbc.co.uk/

9
Dec

Will drawing new borders create and sustain peace?

Could we be facing the prospect of boundaries in the Middle East being redrawn, or seeing states reconstituted out of all recognition? In the past week, two experts have suggested this is the only viable solution to the civil wars in Iraq and Syria and to defeating ISIL.

Anatol Lieven, a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar and a former chair of international relations and terrorism studies at King’s College, London, advocates “the creation of fully autonomous areas in Sunni northern Iraq and eastern Syria, along similar lines to the present Kurdish region of Iraq and with full control over their internal affairs”.

Writing in Foreign Affairs, the scholar Barak Mendelsohn goes further. American “attachment to the artificial Sykes-Picot borders demarcated by France and Britain a century ago no longer makes sense”, he argues, adding that Syria and Iraq are finished as unitary states. He proposes “an independent Sunni state that would link Sunni-dominated territories on both sides of the border”.

This sounds remarkably radical, but US vice president Joe Biden, for one, can feel somewhat justified after the fact. He had suggested tripartite autonomy in Iraq nearly 10 years ago – “giving each ethno-religious group – Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab – room to run its own affairs”. He may not have included the Sunni areas of Syria at that point, but then that was before Bashar Al Assad declared war on his own people, and before the rise of ISIL and the effective disappearance of the border with Iraq. Read more…

Published on Dec. 8th, 2015, http://www.thenational.ae/

By Sholto Byrnes

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