No Regrets: Russia says it was worth it

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Last March, Russia annexed Crimea after discontent, riots, and a revolution in Ukraine. Unrest in eastern Ukraine and a supposed divide between the east and west in Ukraine- each who wanted different political allies- led to a vote that seemed to overwhelmingly show support in the Crimean peninsula for rejoining Russia. This event was looked down upon by most world powers, who saw it as an illegal seizing of the territory and a rigged vote. Following the Crimean crisis, economic sanctions were imposed on the Russian Federation by the western powers.

Recently, a year after the sanctions were imposed, the Russian premier (prime minister) Dmitri A. Medvedev estimated that after the sanctions and economic pressure were in place, Russia lost approximately $26.8 billion. But, he also commented that it was worth it, and the money lost is the “price we have to pay for our position.” All sectors of the Russian economy have been affected in some way, and the losses for Russia will continue to mount in the coming years. However, the position taken by the Russian government demonstrates the attitude that the “restoration of historical justice” is more important than the disturbances to the Russian economy.

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This attitude of righting the historical wrongs speaks to a deep divide between Russia and the rest of the world. Russia sees its current position in the world as behind where it used to be and therefore unacceptable: the Russian Federation means to continue to gain world power and return to its former superpower status. They do this at the expense of making allies and at the expense of, in this case, their economy. However, in their view of what is “supposed to be,” they are simply doing what is right to correct the wrongs.

Europe vs. Google

An accusation has been thrown out by European Union’s antitrust chief; Margrethe Vestager claims that Google is “abusing its dominance in web searches to the detriment of competitors.” I guess it appears that there is not enough competition against Google, thus not allowing other related companies to flourish. I see why there is some concern there, but I don’t see why Google has to be in trouble for it? If competitors want their ideas to be competitive, then it should be their job to make their ideas better, not the European Unions. 

It brought up the argument that because Android’s come with Google apps previously installed, it is unfair to competition. I really think all that that says is that again, competitors need to up their competition! Come up with apps that work better than Google, then maybe Android will ask you to be their app provider of choice. 

I personally think Google works the best, so it only makes sense that it’s on top. I would not at all say that Google is unfairly more popular; they’ve just earned it. 

Another thing, Europe also needs to let up the reigns on their control of things like this as well. Their Internet and media use is a lot more controlled than in the U.S., and I don’t think it needs to be. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/16/business/international/european-union-google-antitrust-case.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

American flag style sweeps Cuba

It looks like the American flag is quite the fashion statement in an unexpected country. I find it kind of amusing how Cuba has really taken a liking to wearing clothes decked out in red, white, blue, stars, and stripes. I think this is a great step in the already improving relations between Cuba and the U.S.. The public is showing their approval, so it won’t be long until others are won over. Granted, the American-esque clothing probably isn’t always a political statement, but it’s a start! I didn’t realize that it’s been nearly 50 years since American flags have flown on flagpoles in the country. It will be very interesting to see how soon until that happens again, and what will have to happen to get there.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/14/world/americas/american-flags-popping-up-in-cuba-on-everything-but-a-pole.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

Urban Planning and Archeology

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In the city of Lecce in the heel of the Italian boot, several layers of history were uncovered when one man tried to do his plumbing. The job that was meant to take a week, turned into years, resulting in a museum. Archaeology has increasingly frustrated Italian urban planners, even preventing from the Rome subway from being expanded.

As with all land use conflicts, a consensus must be built in order for the different stake holders to appropriate the land fairly. At what point do archaeology expeditions impede the quality of life of property owners. Which ancient relics are worth preventing development?

Severo Martini, a member of the City Council, said archaeological relics turn up on a regular basis — and can present a headache for urban planning. A project to build a shopping mall had to be redesigned after the discovery of an ancient Roman temple beneath the site of a planned parking lot.

Establishing principles of conflict resolution among the several parties is essential to creating a deal that will work. Local conflicts, and their negotiated peace, are a microcosm of what it means to achieve diplomacy. The fields of Urban Planning and Diplomacy would do well to learn from one another.

If you’re interested in the overlap of Archaeology and Urban Planning, consider reading this well written article.

Cease Fire?

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Ever since the Ukrainian Conflict cease fire in February, the opposing sides of Ukrainian forces and the separatists have continued to fire at each other. Recently, a new round of calls for an actual cease fire have been called for by the peace keeping group.

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German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier( L) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier is the German Foreign Minister. He is tasked with heading up peace talks between the two groups. He has been instrumental in calming tensions between the US and Iran, keeping the Ukrainian conflict down, and helping to repair the American rift with Germany after American surveillance was revealed by Edward Snowden.

As European countries begin to broker agreements, where is American Leadership? Is Barak Obama’s bet to make the US less exceptional working on a diplomatic level? Which presidential candidates are best suited for “Leader of the free world,” and does that label still apply to the American President?

French Family Feud

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With Jean-Marie Le Pen and his daughter, Marine Le Pen, duking it out for leadership of the National Front party in France, it will be useful to understand the implications of who wins the leadership.

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Jean-Marie Le Pen was the party leader for the National Front for 39 years. He is marked by his controversial statements and holocaust denial. The National Front is considered the far-right party in French politics, supporting economic protectionism, french nationalism, and anti-immigration policies. He is known as the “demon of the republic.”

Marine Le Pen has been rising in the polls for future elections. She has been struggling to “de-demonize” the party, embracing softer stances and hi-lighting the social aspects of the platform. Part of this campaign to mainstream parts of the party includes excluding radical members of the party. Unfortunately for this daughter, this includes her Father.

Genocide and Its Antidote

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Children of the Holodomor

This week marks the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Buchenwald Concentration camp by American forces. This liberation was the first discovery of the Holocaust which killed around six million Jews. In the Vatican’s Mass address this Sunday, Pope Francis spoke out against the wide spread violence that is occurring.

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Pope Francis

Citing the examples of the Armenian Genocide, Jewish Holocaust, Ukrainian Famine, Cambodian and Rwandan Genocides, the Pontiff bemoaned that “It seems that humanity is incapable of putting a halt to the shedding of innocent blood. It seems that the human family has refused to learn from its mistakes caused by the law of terror, so that today, too, there are those who attempt to eliminate others with the help of a few, and with the complicit silence of others who simply stand by.” Each of these atrocities occurred in the 20th Century. These are not the barbaric ancient times we speak of; These outrageous incarnations of human behavior occurred within our past few generations. What leads humans to numb their humanity enough to destroy so many human lives?

Eric Cassell argues that such crimes are perpetrated when their is a lack of compassion. Compassion means “to suffer with.” Three realities must exist for an individual to feel compassion for another human being. People must be able to trust their emotions as serious. People must feel that another’s suffering is not self-inflicted. People must be able to picture themselves with the same problems. The philosophy and cultural climate which surround modernity can block all three of these realities if an individual does not consciously eliminate the illusions that constitute modern reality.

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In the modern world emotions are irrational, unrealistic human attributes that must be blocked out in order for the brain to think clearly. Whether it be “rape culture” or poverty shaming, people who could interject an opposition to mass killings often rationalize that the victims have somehow earned their demise.  The last condition for compassion is deep empathy, the ability to humanize the other individual, and participate in their pain with them. Karen Armstrong’s Ted Talk, “My Wish: the Charter for Compassion,” argues for a resolution within local and international communities to embrace compassion at the interpersonal level.

As we contemplate the various ways in which we rationalize suffering, let us all become a bit more sensitive to the offenses that occur in our own classrooms and neighborhoods.

Mysterious Airplane Crash Finds Pilot Was Locked Out of Cockpit

Officials listened to the “Black Box” as they investigated the airplane crash that took place in the Alps earlier this week. They reported normal conversation among the pilots during the first part of the flight. Then the recorded audio consisted of one of the pilots leaving the cockpit and not being able to re-enter. Some theories among investigators as to why he was unable to re-enter are perhaps the pilot inside was “incapacitated” by a sudden event like a fire or low cabin pressure. However, it is still too early in the investigation to tell.

“So far, we don’t have any evidence that points clearly to a technical explanation,” said one senior French official. “So we have to consider the possibility of deliberate human responsibility.”

Government officials also say this is most likely not linked to any type of terrorist attack, but it seems like quite a few “mysterious” plane accidents have been happening lately doesn’t it? One government official reports difficult conditions in finding out the cause of the crash due to the plane slamming into the mountainside at an alarming speed causing it to disintegrate.

Small businesses in Italy push through economic crisis

This article followed the recent economic journey of Editoriale Zanardi, an artisan book printer in Italy. Zanardi has had more downs than ups in recent years due to the economic problems that have been hitting small businesses hard across Europe. However, Zanardi, like many other small businesses across Europe, is making a comeback, and it’s due to the local support that they’ve received. 

I admire the culture in Europe that rallies people together to support small, local, family-run businesses. Oftentimes the business has been in the family for ages, and the force that economic problems have been hitting them with could not only be damaging to them financially, but culturally as well. Props to them for gathering together to support each other’s small businesses. They get the idea of community well.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/09/world/europe/italian-artisans-revival-after-economic-crisis-reflects-resilience-of-small-industry.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

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