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Watching Shadows: Media and Plato’s Cave

A cave, a Greek philosopher, a blazing fire and your newspaper. All are interconnected in a way. If you think you think you have a grip on the world out there, if you think you are well informed because you watch the news and if you think you can distinguish reality from a mere projection, keep on reading. Let us ... Read More »

Ukraine in Turmoil: a Local View

The European headlines currently are filled with the turmoil in Ukraine. Every day there is new developments in the East of the country with the “pro-Russian separatists” taking control of an increasing number of official buildings and strategic positions. We read about the resurrection of an already buried Cold War rhetoric. The Western alliance gathers together to impose sanctions and ... Read More »

Free but not Fair

With the continuous crisis in Ukraine taking most of the media’s attention, a dubious election in the heart of Europe passed silently. In Hungary, the popular but controversial prime minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz-KDNP party retained their power in a seemingly ‘free’ election. Ruling party Fidesz however took preemptive measures to manipulate the outcome, making the elections far from ... Read More »

Vita Activa

There is an inscription on Athens’s ancient city wall which claims that ‘The man with no public business has no business’. Greek ancient philosophy asserts that someone who is ignorant towards public affairs can be considered as being an idiot – an uneducated and self-centered person. However, it is comforting to know that in the same Athenian democracy, idiots were ... Read More »

Who to blame for the “European Dictatorship”

Many European countries experience a drastic increase in far-right and anti-EU political parties. Politicians like Geert Wilders, Marie Le Pen and Heinz-Christian Strache profit from their prominent media appearances and the tiredness of many EU citizens that do not grasp the far-away Brussels bureaucracy. The upcoming elections in May might change the scene and produce a more nationally focused Union. ... Read More »

The Shame of our Time: Human Trafficking (Modern Slavery)

Men, women and children, working extensive days of hard labour in bad conditions without or little pay and no possibility to leave. Impossible as it might be for us to imagine the complete absence of freedom, these practices are not just taking place in distant, shady sweatshops or backstreet brothels in developing countries –human trafficking is very real and happening ... Read More »

Spain’s identity crisis

Like many countries, Spain experiences increasing pressure coming from right-wing parties due to the economic crisis. Minister Mariano Rajoy has introduced the tightening of abortion laws, meaning an almost total ban on abortion except in the case of rape or severe danger of the woman’s mental or physical state. This proposal comes from the Partido Popular, a conservative center-right party, ... Read More »

The postponed conflict – Bosnia’s challenges

When the Dayton Agreements that ended the war in Bosnia were signed on November 21st 1995, they were commonly seen as a major diplomatic achievement that brought peace back to the Balkans. In the protests that rocked Bosnia-Herzegovina in early and mid-February however, the dangerous legacy of these treaties became shockingly visible. On February 4, it was just too much ... Read More »

Carrying trade into cold waters

“No, there are no penguins in the Arctic.” The confusion about the polar regions is still not settled in the popular mind, while on the other hand serious business interests start to come into play in one of the globe’s most fragile ecosystems. With climate change advancing at a pace never experienced before, the sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean ... Read More »