“Faces of Europe”, these are people who represent historical, political and social processes in their country. Our reporters uncover their stories and gain insight into their daily lives. What happens between Amsterdam and Athens? What is discussed in Poland? What is Portugal thinking about? And what do other Europeans do better? One hour of listening experience, every Saturday, from 11.05 am.
The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is perhaps one of the earliest manifestations of European egalitarianism: The table was round so that no one, not even the king, would sit at the head and each would weigh equally . The twelve stars in the European Union flag seem to refer to the twelve knights – 24 knights are also mentioned. The duodecimal system is early European and (except on the clock face) has been supplanted by the simpler annotation in Arabic numerals in the decimal system. In the European flag, the twelve stars allegedly symbolize the halo around Mary’s head, but I actually like the symbolism of the Round Table better: every participating Member State is seen as equal: sovereign and therefore with veto power.
I read the following news item today on Scientias:
The fragments, carelessly tucked away in the binding of other books in the fifteenth century, date from the early thirteenth century.
That is what British researchers say after they have thoroughly examined the seven fragments. However, their research not only results in a fairly accurate dating of the fragments; the scientists also managed to read the entire text, which was no longer visible to the naked eye in places due to damage. They also managed to determine what kind of ink the writer used to put Merlin’s story on parchment.
Merlin is a wizard who plays an important role in the famous legend of King Arthur. In the fragments that were recently recovered, it is described, among other things, how King Arthur – together with a few allies, including Merlin – takes up arms against King Claudas. Merlin devises a plan of attack. And a detailed description of the battle follows. That battle seems to be turning against Arthur and his companions, but then Merlin makes a fiery argument and the tide is turned.”
From: The Standard. Karel Pinxten (69), ex-politician of the Open VLD, loses two thirds of his pension rights. This was decided by the European Court of Justice on Thursday morning. According to the Court, it has been proven that Pinxten, as a member of the European Court of Auditors, enriched himself between 2006 and 2018 at the expense of his employer.
In its decision, the court followed the demand of Irish Solicitor General Gerard Hogan in December last year. An investigation by the European anti-fraud service Olaf had shown that Pinxten, among other things, had private trips to Cuba and Crans-Montana in Switzerland, but also hunting parties in Ciergnon in the Ardennes and Chambord in the Loire region paid for by his employer the European Court of Auditors .
He is also accused of fraud with fuel cards, as is a long list of dinners paid for by Europe with political and personal friends. At the end of his investigation in 2018, Olaf estimated the financial loss that Pinxten would have caused to his employer at 570,000 euros. The Court of Audit itself reduced that amount to 160,000 euros in its claim to the European Court.
This image, taken on September 30 by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, shows the lava flow from the erupting volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma. The lava flows into the Atlantic Ocean and extends the coastline. This ‘lava delta’ covered about 20 hectares when the photo was taken.
On September 19, a fissure opened in the Cumbre Vieja volcano, sending plumes of ash and lava into the air. The lava poured down the mountain and flowed through villages swallowing everything in its way. By September 28, the 6 km lava flow had reached the ocean on the west coast of the island. Clouds of white steam were reported where the red-hot lava hit the water in the Playa Nueva area.
This Sentinel-2 image is rendered in true color, using the shortwave infrared channel to emphasize the lava flow. The Sentinel-2 mission is based on a constellation of two identical satellites, each carrying an innovative high-resolution multispectral wide-angle camera with 13 spectral bands, capable of tracking changes in Earth’s land and vegetation.
contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2021), edited by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO Observing the Earth Sentinel-2 Copernicus
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Europe is gripped by an energy crisis due to rising natural gas prices, increased demand for fossil fuels and the approaching winter. Consideration is now being given to reverting to coal.
Coal is the most polluting fossil fuel and European countries have committed to shutting down all coal-fired power stations by 2030. By March of this year, Europe was already halfway there, but energy scarcity has led some power producers to demand more supplies of coal and gas from Russia, while API2 Rotterdam’s coal futures – a benchmark price for coal to be imported into northwestern Europe – in September. have increased by USD 80 per tonne and have exceeded USD 230 per tonne.
Coal stocks have also increased as demand has increased, as European producers have turned to coal as a result of the energy crisis.
Experts speaking to Newsweek suggested that coal is not the future of energy supply for Europe, but criticized the EU’s current energy policy.
Ralph Schoellhammer, an assistant professor of international relations at Webster University in Vienna, Austria, points out the controversy surrounding nuclear energy.
“In Europe, the (energy supply) reality has finally caught up with the (sustainability) ideology. Climate policy has been formulated mainly by NGOs and young climate activists, but is not backed up by hard scientific evidence,” Schoellhammer told Newsweek.
This is especially clear on the basis of nuclear energy, which in terms of CO2 emissions is just as climate-friendly as wind energy. “But it is ideological objections that have ensured that nuclear power, for example in Germany, will be phased out in 2022 and at this point a reversal seems unlikely.”
“All of this is causing serious energy shortages – Sweden had to start up two oil-fired power plants that burn 140,000 liters of oil per hour, while Sweden has simultaneously shut down six of its 12 nuclear plants.”
“Politically, a temporary return to coal seems more ‘saleable’ than a return to nuclear power, because closing nuclear power plants has been politically promoted as a huge environmental success that it never has been,” Schoellhammer continued.
“The biggest problem, however, is the return of stagflation: German industrial production (due to energy scarcity) fell by 4 percent month on month in August, while inflation (due to scarcity of goods) reached new highs of more than 4 percent.”
“The aversion to fossil fuels has always been based on the mirage that the entire energy transition would have no real impact on the average European.” said Schoellhammer.
“The risk of runaway inflation makes people more and more sensitive to price increases and at some point, the use of fossil fuels and nuclear energy will take precedence politically over adherence to climate targets.
This was already reflected in the German elections on September 26, where voters who voted for the first time were more attracted to the pro-nuclear FDP than to the Greens.
“If things continue to develop as they are now, it could well herald the decline of the Green movement, as the costs of the Energy Transition slowly but surely exceed the sacrifices that especially the lower classes are willing to bear.” Daniel Esty is a professor at Yale Law School and a former commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. He was also a US climate change negotiator from 1989 to 1993. He argues that more needs to be done to create incentives for cost-effective renewable energy.
“Progress towards a clean energy future is almost certainly not going to be smooth. When prices spike, the public’s willingness to pay a significant premium to avoid greenhouse gas emissions declines. clean energy and renewable energy, but also cheaper and more reliable electricity. In this regard, European leaders made some serious policy mistakes, including committing to shut down nuclear power plants before renewable energy was widely available at competitive costs.”
Interesting article by Lynn Berry and Calvin Woordward of The Associated Press about White House adviser Fiona Hill. A British person who briefed Donald Trump about Putin’s Russia during his presidency is the daughter of the British miner. She argues that both Donald Trump and Wladimir Putin, as well as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have come to power through the destruction of heavy industry in the United States, Russia and Great Britain since the 1980s and the decline of the industrial class. Because of the nihilism and the broad feeling of having forgotten that that triggered it.
Hill, who speaks and understands Russian fluently, observed these powerful as the proverbial ‘fly on the wallpaper’ who is ignored but who sees everything at ease – and sees through. The men literally did not notice her and she made good use of this by listening very carefully in their vicinity, remembering everything and writing it down.
The changes in the three countries are strikingly similar, partly due to the destruction of heavy industry. The result has been what she calls a “crisis of opportunity” and the emergence of populist leaders like Putin, Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, able to address the fears and grievances of those who feel disadvantaged.
She said she was worried in the White House about what Russia was doing and came out after she became fully aware of all this that the problem was really the United States… and that the Russians were just the situation were exploiting.
Hill calls Russia a cautionary tale, “America’s Ghost of Christmas Future,” if the US is unable to end its internal political divisions.
“There Is Nothing for You Here,” her book released last week, unlike those of other writers on the Trump administration, isn’t obsessed with the scandals. Like her measured but compelling testimony in Trump’s first impeachment, the book offers a more sober, and therefore perhaps more disturbing, portrait of the 45th president.
Brussels. I had been there a few times for business reasons, but now that Karin and I are taking it easy, an opportunity presented itself to visit the city more extensively. We booked two nights in a nice, simple hotel (Adagio) in a side street of Rue Belliard, Nijverheidsstraat or Rue de l’industrie which is all official in Brussels bilingual in French and Dutch.
The city is widely regarded as the unofficial capital of Europe, ie the European Union. Unofficially because the EU is not (yet) a country. How did Brussels actually become ‘European capital’? Allowing myself some speculation, I am stepping through history in seven-mile boots. Together with the Netherlands and Luxembourg, Belgium belongs to the founding states of the united Europe and the Benelux, the first small customs union after the war, formed a sort of pilot for the later European Community. Belgium and Luxembourg had already formed a single state with the northern Netherlands (the former Republic) from 1815 until the Belgian revolt and secession of 1830-1839.
Brussels was already a royal city in the Habsburg Empire from the late Middle Ages, but the Belgian King Leopold II (1835-1909) has, from the moment he became king in 1865, as a ‘builder’ quite a household in Brussels and had numerous monumental buildings erected there. which now remind the city of Paris, especially because the streets are all paved with cobblestones or ‘cobblestones’. (Although the triumphal arch in the Cinquantenaire Park is virtually a copy of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.)
This nineteenth century eruption of royal building fever meant that when the new European institutions needed housing in the early 1950s, Brussels was a good candidate. What also helped was that Belgium is a harmless small country that is bilingual – even trilingual because German is also spoken. Strasbourg has of course also been pushed, especially by France, but that does not seem to make it as a European capital. And Liège and even Amsterdam were briefly in the picture. But Brussels is on the border of Germanic and Latin Europe, geographically central and easily accessible from both Paris and Berlin.
Some fifty thousand ‘Eurocrats’ work in Brussels and every morning they want to go to the few square kilometers where the European quarter is located. Many do this by car, so in Nijverheidsstraat – and other side streets – traffic is blocked for a large part of the day because the traffic light discharges the traffic in a dosed manner onto the Rue Belliard through which it races continuously.
Here, European Commissioner Frans Timmermans can still do some beneficial missionary work for his ‘Green Deal’ to make the European continent more sustainable and green. Here and there you see something that resembles bicycle paths, but there is still a long way to go here.
We have done everything on foot that is reasonable to do. Climbing and descending is especially tiring: Brussels is a hilly city. This occasionally provides beautiful views.
The European Information Office on Rue Belliard lavishly advertises all the charities the Union pursues
We visited the Magritte Museum in the huge Museum of Fine Arts. His paintings have a dreamy surrealism that fits so well with Belgium and Brussels in particular. A split country and city. Magritte questions the obvious when it comes to the names we give to objects and concepts. The ordinary suddenly becomes absurd. Name, meaning and the object to which they belong become separated from each other.
Now that we have admired Magritte in his ‘natural Belgian habitat’, a country with linguistic and cultural borders, we understand better his pre-occupation with language, object naming and meaning. He was engaged in communication in a conceptual way.
In the House of European History you become immersed in the absurdity of war – especially of the First World War, which left deep scars in the collective memory much more than in the Netherlands. An unprecedented mass destruction of people on an industrial scale that is poured out on you from tableaux and from showcases and which leaves you depressed. Impressive, yes.
The House of European History is located a stone’s throw from the European Parliament where an employee of the information office almost drags us in for a half-hour audio tour where we can take a look at the main meeting room.
Here we are shown the lesson Europe has learned from its violent history. The 750 delegates can each speak in their own national language and a large number of simultaneous translators ensure that each delegate can listen in their own national language.
Now we were ready for a little light-heartedness and you can find that in Brussels in the national comics museum on the Zandstraat or Center Belge de la bande dessinée, or musée de la BD for short. BD is comic in French. The former Art Deco department store in which it is housed is worth a visit in itself.
The European Union has chosen a dignified capital in which culture and nature could nevertheless conquer a little more space from the busy car traffic of hasty Eurocrats.
This is the story of the Portuguese diplomat who saved thousands from the Nazis. As the German army marched through France, Aristides de Sousa Mendes faced a choice: obey his government or follow his conscience – and risk it all.
Image: Sandra Dionis Text: Chanan Tigay
(Smithsonian Magazine) Translated with DeepL.
Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes was serving as consul general in France when the Nazis invaded the country.
It was the second week of June 1940, and Aristides de Sousa Mendes did not leave his room. Sousa Mendes, Consul General of Portugal in Bordeaux, France, lived in a large flat overlooking the Garonne River with his wife and several of their 14 children – all of whom were growing increasingly concerned. An aristocrat and bon vivant, Sousa Mendes loved his family very much. He loved wine. He loved Portugal, and wrote a book glorifying this “land of dreams and poetry”. He loved to bellow popular French tunes, especially Rina Ketty’s “J’attendrai,” a tender love song that became a hymn to peace in the changing context of war. And Sousa Mendes loved his mistress, who was five months pregnant with his 15th child. He found something to laugh about, family members remember, even in the worst of times. But now, faced with the most devastating decision of his life, he had shut himself off. He refused to leave his room, not even to eat. “The situation here is terrible,” the 54-year-old diplomat wrote to his brother-in-law, “and I’m in bed having a serious nervous breakdown.” The seeds for the collapse of Sousa Mendes had been sown a month earlier, when Hitler launched his invasion of France and the Low Countries on 10 May 1940. Within weeks, millions of civilians were driven from their homes, desperate to stay ahead of the advancing German army. A Red Cross representative in Paris called it “the biggest civilian refugee problem in French history”. New York Times correspondent Lansing Warren, who was later arrested by the Nazis, telegraphed home: “There’s never been such a thing. In a country already filled with evacuees from the war zones, half the population of Paris is ambushed. region, much of Belgium, and ten to twelve departments of France, somewhere between 6 and 10 million people in total, along the roads in private cars, in lorries, on bicycles and on foot.”
In the geopolitical joust between the West and Russia, Vladimir Putin is increasingly isolating himself. Russian interference since 2014 in the Donbas and the annexation of Crimea – parts of Ukraine ethnic Russian – have fueled Ukrainian nationalism. Ukraine aïene has become more European after 1991. Almost all satellite states of the former Soviet Union want to belong to Europe and its institutions (the EU and NATO). For Putin, this is an undermining of the Russian sphere of influence. He fails to see that the European cooperation model of reciprocity is simply more attractive (because less threatening) for many young Eastern European nations than the Russian power politics of bringing renegade vassal states back to the Motherland, willingly or ill-willed.
Putin is winning the battles in this new Cold War so far, but he cannot win the war himself. Read a good analysis by Ivo van Wijdeven, who appeared in the International Spectator in 2019
and a current update on Olivia Durand’s current situation who appeared on The Conversation yesterday, ‘How Russian is Ukraine’.
From The Conversation:
A political pamphlet published in 1762 described a conversation between “Greater Russia” and “Little Russia”. In the exchange, Little Russia refused to be reduced to a part of Greater Russia and put forward its own unique history and identity. At that time, the name “Ukraine” was not yet used to indicate a state. But the noun ukraina – a word that means “border zone” in several Slavic languages – has already been used to designate the future territory: the vast steppe area around the river Dnipro (Dnieper) and bordering the Black Sea.
The term Little Russia was gradually abandoned in the era of nationalism, when 19th-century Ukrainian-speaking academics and thinkers decided to subvert the old derogatory term in order to develop the modern idea of Ukraine as a nation. But two centuries later, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, Russia is using these historic discourses to justify its own incursions into independent Ukraine. He made his feelings clear in a July 2021 article published on his presidential webpage, when he wrote of Russians and Ukrainians as “one people – one whole”.
The capital of Ukraine, Kyiv (or Kiev), has been repeatedly described as the “mother of Russian cities”. Kiev was the center of Kievite Rus’ (882-1240), an orthodox medieval state to which the Russian leaders – from the tsars to Putin – trace the origin of their country (a lineage also claimed by Belarus and Ukraine) . This claim is often used to support Russia’s claims on Ukrainian territory.
But this is a misconception. While the forerunner of the Russian Empire, Moscow, arose in the wake of the Mongol invasion (1237-40) that marked the end of the Rus, the rulers of Moscow took control of Kiev only 500 years later. The claim of Kyivan origin was a convenient method of denying the Mongol and Tatar elements underlying Moscow’s early development and instead giving Russia an orthodox past, with tsars apparently appointed by God.
Russia’s territorial power over the Rus’ remnants was limited by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795), a bi-federation of the two great powers of Central Europe. Most of the region known as Ukraine remained outside Russian rule until the final partition of Poland in 1795.
Whose influence? Ukraine is one of the largest states in Europe and its geography has been influenced by many more areas than just Russia. Since Ukraine originally meant “borderland”, the territory was the target of several kingdoms – not only Russia, but also the Khanate of Crimea, the Kingdom of Poland, and the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires.”
Cover image: https://tinyurl.com/3wvdcrc4
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Download the whole piece here and you can read it further in English: