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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 02/02/2007

 

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Acting against climate change

According to the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due to be made public this Friday, February 2nd, global warming is essentially due to human activity. The press wonders whether the international community is ready to really take up the struggle against this phenomenon. » more

With articles from the following publications:
Le Soir - Belgium, Vasabladet - Finland, Dagens Nyheter - Sweden, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany, Les Echos - France

Le Soir - Belgium

"May the bell tolled by the world's scientific upper crust this Friday [February 2nd] in Paris, finally convince citizens and decision-makers to act", urges the editorialist Christophe Schoune. "Is ecological governance necessary to stop our fate from rapidly resembling that of the dinosaurs ? The idea of a UN environmental organisation, put back on the drawing board by the president Jacques Chirac and Europe, has the advantage of being coherent and efficient (on paper). But the initiative, that does little to reassure southern countries, is not very likely to succeed in the short term, while the question of global warming requires immediate answers. Two decades is the time remaining for humanity's boat to radically change its course and transform its modes of production and consumption." (02/02/2007)

Vasabladet - Finland

"The climate is the prototype of a chaotic system and therefore highly unpredictable. Nonetheless, the methods for predicting changes have been continually refined, and are now much more reliable than they used to be," Stig Nygard explains as background to the UN climate report. He makes the following critique: "According to report, there is a 95 percent probability that the rise in temperatures over the past few decades is the result of greenhouse gas emissions... However, instead of taking appropriate measures, people see emissions trading as a chance to continue as before. According to this strategy, the country that is the last to give up fossil fuels will come out winning. Nothing can be more wrong." (02/02/2007)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

In view of the results of the UN report on global warning, the newspaper calls for a gradual reduction of global oil consumption and greater emphasis on coal and nuclear power: "Of course it's important to save energy – if possible without negative repercussions. And of course it's important to develop alternative energy sources. But it's virtually impossible to imagine a future without coal and nuclear power. The 'principle of caution' applies not only to the environmental side of the issue, but also to the economy... What we urgently need is international agreements, in particular for taxing carbon dioxide emissions, and also more technical innovation. The EU is on the right path, and Sweden is without doubt the only country to have broken the correlation between economic growth and increased emissions of greenhouse gases." (02/02/2007)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

"Modern environmental protection is a European invention," writes Nikolas Busse. "No other group of states has been quicker or more committed to achieving a global agreement for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And even today, it's the EU member states that bear the greatest brunt for implementing the measures stipulated in the Kyoto protocol – the key international agreement for fighting climate change.... The main problem for Europeans is the question of what will happen after 2012. There is still no follow-on agreement for after the Kyoto Protocol expires. The different delegations at the most recent climate summit in Nairobi last November couldn't agree on when to begin negotiations for a new protocol. In particular the developing nations appear reluctant to have restrictions on emissions imposed on them... This is why the European Commission has proposed a strategy for Europe alone for the period after 2012." (02/02/2007)

Les Echos - France

The editorialist Philippe Escande recalls that "the combustion of fossil fuels represents almost 70 % of green-house gas emissions. If we want to act efficiently against the global warming of the planet, then it is imperative that we consume a lot less." But a reduction of global consumption can only be achieved by dealing with the problem of "geographical inequality. What would be the point of Europe going to battle alone, other than easing its conscience ? The necessity of global governance is resurfacing with Jacques Chirac acting as its most zealous promoter. Its effect will essentially be psychological. All will eventually depend, as usual, on the will of the world's two giants, the United States and China, to subscribe to the movement and thus transform the utopia into a reality of durable economy. Some signs are showing today that not all hope is lost and that, over there too, new generations are making themselves heard." (02/02/2007)

REFLECTIONS

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Perlentaucher - Germany

Timothy Garton Ash on multiculturalism and monoculturalism

Pascal Bruckner has sharply criticised Timothy Garton Ash and Ian Buruma in an essay. Ash now responds to the attack and explains his views on multiculturalism in Europe."The truth, apparent to those of us who live in the reality-based community, is that neither the extreme version of live-and-let-die separatist multiculturalism that Ali saw and rightly criticised in Holland (and that has also been seen in some British cities) nor the secularist republican monoculturalism preached by Bruckner and (partly) practised in France have succeeded in enabling Muslim immigrants and their descendants to feel at home in Europe - let alone, to identify themselves as European citizens. The serious debate is about which elements from each approach can best be combined to make that happen.... While defending the fundamentals of a free society, such as freedom of expression, with an iron will, we also need a large tolerance for cultural diversity,... and an acknowledgment that religious believers can at the same time be reasonable persons and good citizens." (02/02/2007)

The Guardian - United Kingdom

Maleiha Malik considers UK Muslims are treated like Jews a century ago

"Today's anti-Muslim racism uncannily echoes earlier anti-semitism - both minorities abused as an alien security threat", notes Maleiha Malik, lecturer in law at King's College, London. "The political movements with which they [UK Jewish immigrants 100 years ago] were closely associated were anarchism and later Bolshevism. As in the case of contemporary political violence, or even the radical Islamism supported by a minority of British Muslims, anarchism and Bolshevism only commanded minority support among the Jewish community. But shared countries of origin and a common ethnic and religious background were enough to create a racialised discourse whenever there were anarchist outrages in London in the early 20th century. ... Both anti-semitism and anti-Muslim racism focus on belief in religious law to construct Jews and Muslims as a threat to the nation." (02/02/2007)

Le Monde - France

Bernard-Henri Levy defends the law penalising the negation of the Armenian genocide

The French philosopher and writer Bernard-Henri Levy supports the law condemning the negation of the Armenian genocide, approved by French Members of Parliament on October 12th, 2006, but since blocked in the French Senate. "People are saying, 'it is not up to the law to write History'... this is absurd, because History has already been written. ... So it is not about 'telling History'. History has already been told. It has been re-told over and over again. This is about stopping its negation. What the Senate is going to discuss is complicating life a bit for insulters. There are laws, in France, against insult and defamation. Is it not the least one can expect, to have law penalising this quintessential insult, this outrage that surpasses all outrages and consists in outraging remembrance of the dead ? ... A law against negationism is necessary because negationism is literally the ultimate stage of genocide." (02/02/2007)

POLITICS

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De Morgen - Belgium

Belgium should virulently condemn racism

A Flemish couple refused to be married in Saint Nicolas, a commune situated in the Flanders region, because of the Deputy Mayor's skin colour. Walter Pauli comments on the affair. "Who could have guessed that Wouter van Bellingen, Deputy Mayor of the Civil State of Saint Nicolas, was black ? Active within Spirit [a political group defending the large autonomy of the Flanders region], he supports Flemish nationalism. And yet, he had barely settled into his position when a couple made it known that they did not want to be united by him. Van Bellingen has South African roots, whence his name, but the couple does not like the colour of his skin. Thankfully, the association of Belgian Mayors and Deputy Mayors remain firm: weddings and couples that do not want him can move to a different commune ! It is a clear case of racism. ... A small percentage of the population shamelessly allows itself racist attitudes which need to be treated with zero tolerance. They should be nailed to the pillory." (02/02/2007)

Diario Sur - Spain

Europe should shed light on secret CIA flights

On Wednesday, January 31st, a German court delivered thirteen warrants of arrest of presumed CIA agents involved in the Khaled El-Masri case. This German citizen of Lebanese origin was arrested in Macedonia in 2003 and then detained for five months in Afghanistan. For the daily, "the tribunal decisions also concern all EU Member Sates, whose foreign ministers, according to what has been revealed, accepted the dubious explanations of Condoleezza Rice [U.S Secretary of State] in 2005. She had explained that the United States secretly transferred prisoners suspected of terrorism, but was not violating international law. The EU's incapacity to have a common and firm view in matters of foreign policy, along with various affinities of its members with the Bush administration does not justify Europe's inhibition facing the crimes that may have been committed on its territory. On the contrary, it is obliged to contribute to shedding light on them and ensuring their definitive eradication." (02/02/2007)

ECONOMY

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Cotidianul - Romania

Microsoft invests in Romania

Microsoft founder Bill Gates inaugurated a Microsoft support centre in Bucharest yesterday. The Romanian government hopes that the centre will bind Romanian IT specialists to their home country – Microsoft employs 300 Romanians in the US alone. Iulian Enache comments on Gates' visit: "Traian Basescu, the president of Romania, told Bill Gates that at the beginning of the 1990s Romania was the country where most pirate copies of Microsoft Office were produced. The Romanian president thought this wasn't a bad thing because it showed that young people there had learned to use the software and in this way invested in friendship with Bill Gates. However, the smile on Gates' face slowly disappeared when he heard this.... Don't get me wrong. Bill Gates' visit to Romania was important for this country. He's the richest man in the world. He has changed technology worldwide and employed many well-trained Romanians, so that Romanian has become the second most important language after English at Microsoft. But I think we should stop making such a fuss and getting so worked up about other people." (02/02/2007)

MEDIA

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Press releases often presented unfiltered in the media

Rainer Stadler reports on a study that examines the impact of PR on Swiss media. According to the study, local broadcasters, privately-owned radio stations and websites are particularly dependent on news from public relations departments – over half their reports come directly from PR departments, and are at most shortened. Moreover, sources often remain undisclosed, so that press releases are sold as if they were the work of the media in question. According to Stadler, the print media is "most likely to sift through information and provide genuine analyses. However, in view of its current financial difficulties, even the press are under pressure at the moment. The need to economise is threatening the potential for reflection. The sharp competition among the print media appears also to be causing problems from a journalistic point of view: too many papers are competing for readers and advertising customers within a very cramped space and with too few resources at their disposal. Informing the public remains a precarious project that must be continually fought for." (02/02/2007)

Diario de Sevilla - Spain

A certain form of journalism has passed away with Kapuscinski

The Spanish reporter Fran Sevilla praises the work of the Polish writer and journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski who died on January 23rd. "The difference is in the pace. The banal and mercenary journalism that is imposing itself so much nowadays, is rapidly devouring contents, rendering it obsolete just after it is released and pummelling it a bit before forgetting it. Journalism of conviction rests, to the contrary, on details, is drawn-out over time, is not rushed and develops what counts, because what counts deserves to be told slowly, with time for pause. .... As he went around the world, from war to war, he [Kapuscinski] learnt that cynicism is a kind of disdain for the suffering of others, coming from those who always slip away, who always have a return ticket in their pocket. In order to travel and practice good journalism, you should not think about going back. This is perhaps why Kapuscinski has left on a voyage of no return." (02/02/2007)

CULTURE

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Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Volker Schlöndorff's new film about Solidarnosc

Bartosz T. Wielinski went to see Volker Schlöndorff's new film "Strajk", which premiers in Poland on February 23 and on March 8 in Germany. The film tells the story of Anna Walentynowicz, a crane operator at the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk. Her dismissal in 1980 led to a strike and the founding of the independent trade union Solidarnosc. Wielinski writes that despite being kitschy the film is still worth seeing. "'Strajk' is full of pathos, at times unrealistic and at times trite. But perhaps that's the way it has to be to appeal to audiences in the West. ... Schlöndorff said himself he wanted to show Germans that the strike at the Gdansk shipyard eventually led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, because Germans are generally unaware of this... He also shows Poles in a different light: not as thieves, drinkers and layabouts, but as people who put their lives at risk and shook the system, even though it seemed they had no chance of success. The Poles need a legend like this in Europe – and Schlöndorff has provided the foundation for it." (02/02/2007)

LOCAL COLOURS

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Mladá fronta dnes - Czech Republic

Czech smokers take to the restaurants

Economist Jiri Schwarz of Prague's Liberal Institute expresses his doubts that proponents of a European-wide smoking ban are genuinely concerned about protecting the health of non-smokers. According to him, this is just another case of politicians wanting to tell people what to do: "Everyone knows that people smoke in restaurants. When you enter a restaurant, you're tacitly agreeing to be surrounded by cigarette smoke. It's an entirely different matter if the state bans smoking in public buildings or on the street, or in other words, in all public places. However, there are private places as well as public places, and restaurants are private spaces. What right does the state have to impose regulations on the owner of such a place?" (02/02/2007)

The Economist - United Kingdom

France smokers take to the street

"Pedestrians in Paris are used to dodging déjections canines (dog-poop), but these days a new hazard is blocking the French capital's pavements: smokers fleeing the country's new anti-tobacco law", comments the British weekly. "On February 1st France followed a European trend by making it illegal to smoke in offices, so forcing staff out into the streets to light up. The country's strict working-time rules, though, add a particular French twist: should smoking breaks be counted as part of the 35-hour week? ... The street is the last refuge, and employers have been in delicate negotiations over how to count pavement time. To the outrage of some, several companies have decided to clock out staff as they leave the building for a smoke, and deduct the time from working hours." (01/02/2007)

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