< SWITCH ME >

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Photo: FICG.mx (flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0

Our editor Victoria Jordan points you in the direction of a few articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about the danger of denial, what truth means today, how countries yearn for the past exceptionalism, and if historical comparisons can help us understand contemporary situations.

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Victoria, Editor of Brain & Baby

As much as I wanted to avoid Trump in particular, and the topic of populism in general, in this edition of E&M’s Good Reads, it has been no more escapable in my latest reads that it is in reality, and seems to be constantly lurking in the background of topics I touch upon. But this might actually be positive, because the last thing we need right now is passive acceptance, or even denial, of recent developments in our surroundings in the hopes of making ourselves feel better about the world. (Obviously, that is not to say that we shouldn’t be happy about other things, and smile at the sight of a puppy.)

Published in Good Reads
Thursday, 02 February 2017 09:00

Calling all Europeans

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Photo: Wesley Lelieveld (flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Dear Europeans. We, the editorial team of E&M, have an urgent matter to discuss with you.

E&M is an independent transnational media outlet that was created as a student project back in 2007/8 by a bunch of heady graduates that knew no boundaries in Europe. They were driven by a firm belief that an inclusive pan-European civil society, based on unbiased dialogue and freedom of expression, is possible. Over the last nine years we have been on the lookout for bits and pieces that can explain the European “psyche” through a more personal lense and we have largely succeeded. In recent months, however, we have been feeling increasingly overwhelmed by the incoming news, which have somehow stopped making sense. We are struggling with a persistent feeling of unease: at the direction Europe is taking, at the prevailing political wind globally, and with our seeming inability to find reasonable solutions. Please find below our thoughts, fears and a call for action, we would very much want you to take part in.

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Photo: European Parliament (flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

On the 4th of December 60 % of Italians voted against the constitutional reform package proposed by then PM Matteo Renzi, that resigned in line with his promise to step down if he did not win the referendum. On the same day green candidate Alexander Van der Bellen won the Austrian elections for President of the Republic, against extreme right wing Norbert Höfer. And it seems that in a post-Trump, post-Brexit Europe news can only be reported in binary mode, with reference to their effects on the European Union: in this case the Austrian victory stands as a positive result for Europe, while Italy’s results would be the next domino to fall in an extremely disheartening 2016, towards dissertation of our Union. Now, whilst I too fear for the great political uncertainty this referendum result presents for Italy, it is far too nuanced a situation to befit most of the polarised mediatic representations. So with the extreme parties on the rise around Europe and the world and increasingly divisive, hateful rhetoric permeating European mainstream discourse, what do the Italian referendum results mean for Italy, Europe and the world?

Wednesday, 09 November 2016 19:37

Trump: A comment from across the Atlantic

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Luckily, America has finally bloody decided. Unluckily, they've managed to elect the sort of demagogue who will, to be euphemistic, challenge the rest of the world for four years minimum. If he makes it that long without being impeached that is.

Published in Sixth Sense
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Photo courtesy: Alexander Neofitov

The EVS4ALL project consortium spent a few days in Paris in the beginning of October 2016 to discuss the progress of the European Voluntary Service for All – a two-year civil initiative striving for more inclusiveness and flexibility of the European Voluntary Service. The latter, a European programme that has been running for twenty years and one of the undisputable successes of European integration, has built many of the social, professional and cultural ties, necessary for nurturing a healthy European citizenry. The EVS4ALL project partners, on the other hand, have made a substantial contribution to the practical and policy aspects of extending the programme’s benefits to each and every European citizen. To learn more about the challenges addressed by the project, its conceptual underpinnings, structure and results follow the link. 

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Photo: Department of Energy and Climate Change (flickr); Licence: CC BY-ND 2.0 - Amber Rudd, Home Secretary of the United Kingdom

Having been an EU migrant in the UK for almost the majority of my life, Britain’s Brexit aftermath never ceases to torment me. Since the UK voted to leave the European Union on the 23rd of June, it has been dominating European headlines, with more and more controversial content. The unexpected outcome of the Brexit referendum shocked people across Europe and the globe, despite exit polls having already pointed to this result – nobody wanted to believe the turn that the UK was about to take. With cries and promises for curbs on immigration by Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Prime Minister Theresa May, my anxiety for the future in a country I was so used to calling my second home has been growing. The truth is, we can discuss the growing xenophobic, racist comments permeating the Conservatives’ rhetoric for days, but what does this all actually mean for migrants in the UK?

Published in Sixth Sense
European Youth Title imahe
Photo: duncan c (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0

Europe is on the edge. Brexit, the anti-democratic developments in Eastern Europe with authoritarian governments in Poland and Hungary, and the rise of the far-right in Germany with the AfD and Pegida movement as well as in France (Front National) anticipate the imminent collapse of the European Union as the biggest peace project in our common history. Nevertheless, in all the debates on which direction our continent and the world should take, the political elite ignores young people. They fail to recognise that they cannot set the course for the future without paying attention to those who will be most affected by today’s decisions.

The rise of the far-right is symptom of a lack of political alternatives with one big loser: young people.
Published in Sixth Sense
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Photo courtesy: Isabell Wutz;

Unsurprisingly, waking up this morning to see that the people of the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union was a tough pill to swallow. It's not how I voted, and it's not how my lefty-liberal bubble voted. Alas that doesn't matter, and as a progressive Brit, it feels like it's now partially my responsibility to work and campaign to make sure that the scenarios we've all been scared of don't come to pass.

There is something devastating about this though.

My fear now of course is that 'popular opinion' is irrevocably different from my own: That I share very little with the people who have voted to put the UK on an ill-defined, probably isolationist cause. Rhetoric in my comforting Twitter corner had been reassuringly reflective of my state of mind—tired, hysterical, a little desperate but yet again it leaves me beyond apprehensive about the political conversations other people are having.

Published in Sixth Sense
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Photo courtesy: Isabell Wutz; Photo: ais3n (flickr), Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0; Photo: Stewart (flickr), Licence: CC BY 2.0; Photo: Aljeandro De La Cruz (flickr), Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0; Photo: Raimond Spekking (Wikimedia Commons), Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0; Photo: Nazionale Calcio (flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0; Photo: Adam Kliczek (Wikimedia Commons), Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0; Photo: Szater (Wikimedia Commons), Licence: no copyright; Photo: Christian Kadluba (flickr), Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0; Photo: FrankieF (Wikimedia Commons), Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0

Tomorrow, on the second day of the 2016 European Championships, the Xhaka brothers will walk out to face each other. Granit, the younger, is perhaps the more famous and has just sealed a big money transfer to Arsenal. He represents Switzerland, while his brother Taulant will be wearing the colours of Albania.

This situation is illustrative of the way in which migration, which continues to be one of the hot-button issues across the continent, has penetrated sport, too. Mr. and Mrs. Xhaka were Kosovan Albanians who emigrated to Switzerland shortly before their sons were born. Football's occasionally arcane nationality rules meant that the brothers could, in essence, choose who to represent from several options. The Swiss team is a particularly strong example, with stars such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Valon Behrami sharing a similar background too, but sides such as France, Belgium and Germany also present stories on the same inclusive theme. They are European in every sense, sides which have taken in the best and most talented regardless of circumstance.

Published in Sixth Sense

 

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Photo: Jorbasa Fotografie (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-ND 2.0

One year ago on the 13th of November 2015 Paris and the whole world was disaster-struck. Today we want to remember this terrifying incident and its 129 victims by sharing our stories of how we learned about the attacks and how we experienced the night and days afterwards. Regardless of nationality, gender, ethnicity or age everyone was affected by the terroristic events one way or another and everyone has a unique memory of that day that should be heard. We believe that despite the horros our solidarity, strength and togetherness should not vanish into oblivion but instead be remembered and shared to overcome hate, stereotypes and extremism.  

Published in Sixth Sense
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