International

let's see how the International affairs impact us

ジョンコビッシイー教授 気候変動対策のあり方

地球温暖化を否む人は、ジョンコビッシイー教授のレクチャーを聞いてほしい。一気に打ちのめされて、しばらく動けなくなる。でもこれが私達の現実、そして未来。素晴らしい15分のプレゼンなので、昼日なかに見ることをおすすめする。眠る前は避けたほうが、よろしいかと思う。

(別の仏語のビデオでは、日本人ジョークもさく裂していた。「日本人みたいにエレベーターに乗るんじゃなくって・・・」よく見てらっしゃるんですね〜)

"AVERTING SYSTEMIC COLLAPSE"

Jean-Marc Jancovici's speech in Paris – Sept. 17, 2019

"AVERTING SYSTEMIC COLLAPSE"

Professor Jean-Marc Jancovici is a well-known French specialist in climate change. He usually gives talks in French. In this video, he speaks in English.

In my view, he is quite blunt and vastly knowledgeable. Within 15 minutes, he tells lots of jokes with a dry sense of humor. I strongly advise watching this video today (but not before you go to bed!).

Travellers and tourists

Ljubljana as seen by Rolade

I’m writing this while on holiday in Greece; however, it’s not about it but on Ljubljana – the capital of Slovenia.

I know little about eastern and central European countries and their people, so I’ve made it my priority to visit at least one of these places every summer. My last month’s holiday in Ljubljana was relaxing and eye-opening in many ways. Slovenes are friendly and accommodating. The hotel where we stayed didn’t only allow us to use their locker for our bags after we had checked out but offered us unlimited tea. These were the exact words of its male receptionist “You’re still our guests and feel free to use our facilities till you depart from our city”.

I took every opportunity to mingle with the locals and be a traveller rather than as a tourist. The more I learnt about them, the more I became interested in their history and culture and able to empathise with them.

It’s fine to talk about the advantages of international travelling when you have the means to do so; however, for many families this occasion remains a dream. Where’s Ljubljana? Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia in central Europe and has borders with Italy, Hungary, Austria and Croatia. The Roman Empire controlled Slovenia for nearly 1,000 years; most of it was under the Habsburg rule (Austria) in the mid-14th century and 1918. The state of Slovenia was formed in 1945 as part of Yugoslavia; gained its independence in June 1991; and today, it is a member of the European Union and NATO.

Stereotyping

Everyone is vulnerable to stereotyping.

I first came to Europe in 1985 and spent a few days in Innsbruck (Austria), a sunny city 168 kilometres from Salzburg and lies on a high mountain plateau with green alpine meadows and secluded groves. The classic 1964 movie ‘Sound of Music’, which is based on the memoir of Maria Von Trapp starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, made Salzburg famous; and more than 300,000 cine fans come to this place every year to walk into the footsteps of the Von Trapp family.

Last month, after nearly 35 years, I visited Austria again but, this time, I didn’t see rolling hills and didn’t find its inhabitants cold and rigid. Contrary to my subconscious oversimplified image of Austrians, I experienced their friendliness and warmth. They are distinctly different from the Germans in terms of cultures and behaviours though they share the same language. However, it’s true that Vienna is bursting with classical music and schnitzel, and I joined the bandwagon by attending a Vivaldi concert and had a plate of the latter.

The more I travel to different European countries, the more I want to learn their diverse cultures and people and get rid of my stereotypes.

Stereotype is a set idea or opinion that we have about someone or something, which often focuses on the differences between groups rather than their similarities. It causes over-reaction to information that confirms such a stereotype and under-reaction to the one that contradicts it. Psychology research and essays reveal that stereotyping is one way to feel good about ourselves, i.e. we (our group – where we belong) are better than them (the outsiders – those who are not in our group).

Eurovision? Why not “Europe and friends’ musical extravaganza”?

During the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel on 14 May 2019, one of my students asked me what I thought of Australia being in it. When I was still living in Brisbane, I always looked forward to watching it as I found all participants talented; many were creative, and some were outlandish. Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), whose mission is “to provide multilingual and multicultural radio and television services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia’s multicultural society”, covers this event every year. After I had said to my student that it should not be in it based on geography, I did some research.

Participation in the Eurovision contest is, firstly, open to those who belong to the 56 member-countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and its 21 associate member-nations. Therefore, participation is not by geography, which makes the title of the event “Eurovision” misleading and susceptible to innuendo. In 2019, 42 countries travelled to Israel and 36 of them performed in the semi-finals to qualify for the finals. Every year, the so-called “Big Five” – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom – are prequalified to take part in the finals.

The ABC of a lasting relationship

"You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity".
— Epicurus (Greek philosopher, 341–270 BC)

While in a jovial mood at last month’s carnival party, I agreed to my Polish friend’s invitation to dinner in a French restaurant five minutes on foot from my residence.

After some minutes of tiptoeing on the snow, my husband and I were ushered to a table in the middle of a room directly in front of a flat stage with standing microphone and sound system. All tables had only two chairs, and we were discouraged from mingling with other couples, including my Polish friends.

On the table was a beautifully cut-out paper in a shape of a turbine with a dozen questions, such as “What’s the best moment you had with your partner recently” and “What do you like most in your partner these days?”

Affaire du Siecle

This blog is about l’Affaire du Siècle, climate protection movement. It started with four associations (Foundation pour la nature et l’homme, Greenpeace France, Notre Affaire à Tous et Oxfam France) on December 17, 2018 in France. They sue governments over inaction on climate change.

異常気象「世紀の訴訟」

子供の頃に、ペットを飼い始めた人は多いのではないだろうか。

隣の家が火事になり自宅は事なきをえたのだけども、火が燃え移りそうになって水槽の温度が上がり、飼っていた魚が全滅したと友人が話していた。一・二度の温度の上昇が命とりになったとか。

壊滅的な気候変動の影響を避けるためには、今後数年の対処が分岐点だと (国連などの) 報告書に示されている。つまり十余年が、生態系にとって山場となる。

異常気象にどう対処すべきか?気候正義をめぐり、フランスのオックスファムやグリーンピースなどの4団体が、l’Affaire du siècleという闘いを続けている。この団体は、国の温室効果ガス排出量の削減努力は不十分であり、inaction (無活動・無能力) であると主張し、政府に対策を求めるための訴訟提訴を主導している。ジュリエット・ビノシュやマリオン・コティヤールなどの俳優陣や有名人たちも、動画で協力を呼びかけている。

。。。下につづく

Urban vs rural ... even in chess

After 12 draws in classical games, Norwegian Magnus beat American Fabiano Caruana 3-0 in the rapid match in London two days ago (29/11/18) retaining his world chess champion title.

This year’s Moselle (France) Regional Chess Championship was held in Bliesbruck from November 1 to 4. Unexpectedly and unfortunately, only a quarter of the usual 80 chess enthusiasts turned up. I felt sorry for the organisers who evidently spent enormous time and resources to make it happen successfully. The main reason I heard was: Bliesbruck is out-of-the-way place. At least one person phoned and asked for the number of registered participants and when he found out that there were only 20, he said “There aren’t many, so I’m not going there”. If everyone had that mentality, there would not have been any tournament.

The newly renovated venue was spacious and well lit, has all the necessary amenities, and is situated in a green surrounding with ample playing fields for the children (e.g. football, basketball and tennis). The playing equipment and materials were comfortable, and everyone was made welcome. It’s an ideal place and condition for a chess competition. But, where were the other players?

Bliesbruck is a small French village located in the north-east of France, in the district of Sarreguemines which has a population of slightly over a thousand. For me, it was an opportunity to be away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Summer 2018

Many of us cannot wait for the summer holiday to arrive as it means no school, no work, getting together with relatives and friends, and leisuring. Some individuals and families are fortunate to afford a relaxing, fantastic getaway somewhere sunny and vibrant. The 2018 summer, however, was not only a question of money. It was so hot that many English and French vacationers opted to stay home. French radio stations had 24-hour updates of traffic situations with their warning of orange “dense – bad” and red “very bad”.

Holidaymakers expected heat in the mid-30s in their favourite countries of Greece, Portugal and Spain, but it went up to 50°C; while the rest of Europe had above-average temperatures in July and August.

Some experts had said that the heatwave was due to warming in the tropical equatorial Pacific Ocean while others disclosed that it was because of the very dry, hot air from the African continent. Whatever the official reason was, our consumption habits and environmentally-unfriendly behaviours have contributed, and will continue to do so, to the erratic climatic conditions and heating up of planet Earth.

Who are you? Where are you from?

I am writing this while on a short holiday in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, before heading to Spain and England. It is summer here in Europe and because we travel a lot during this period, we often get asked “Where are you from?” Depending on my mood, my answer ranges from my birthplace to current city or country of residence. Often, I give information on my nationality/citizenship, and I will tell you why later. In some cases, the enquirer really just wants to know the main language I speak and my religion.

During the World Cup, when I wore my gold and green outfit, some strangers smiled and commented, “You’re from Brazil” thinking that I had something blue invisible to the naked eye. Whereas, friends and acquaintances teased me “Socceroos, go, go...” My gold and yellow dress, green sandal and green bag said it all. They did not question my citizenship (Are you Australian?), appearance (but you look Asian), etc. On other occasions, however, I have to answer a follow-up question “Yes, but where do you really come from, your family?”

A fortnight ago, a close friend invited me to her barbecue dinner party. Her house is 15 minutes on foot from where we live, and since it was a sunny day, I decided to walk. France had just won the 2018 World Cup and knowing that there would be jubilant crowd, I put on my blue, white and red apparel. The time it took me to her place doubled as I had to stop and shake hands, take photos for others and kiss strangers. Everybody was so happy, friendly, and courteous. How I wished it was like that every day. No one asked me “where are you from”? Instead, many nodded and shouted amicably “On a gagné” (We won). They ignored my physical attributes and my non-French accent. They made me feel like I was one of them, which wasn’t my intention. I am a lover and partaker of peaceful and jovial celebrations, festivals, and traditional gatherings.

他国の知恵

他国の知恵

ルクセンブルグの名家でパーティがあった。「プチ・スイス」といわれる森の中のお城のような邸宅に、リサーチなどを生業とする人たちが25人ほど集まった。主にルクセンブルグ人とベルギー人の集まりで(いつものごとく私はマイノリティ)、外国人らしきカップルが皆よりやや離れぎみだったので、話の席に加わった。実は女性は邸の令嬢で、11年の英国生活から引き上げてきたばかりだという。男性は彼女のボーイフレンドでルーマニア人である。

また政治の話になり、私は「今の日本はドキュメンタリー映画で見た、チャウシェスク政権の末期のようです」と話した(広場に集まった市民が政府機関を占拠したとき、あらかじめチャウシェスクの名前が書かれた大量の投票用紙を窓から撒き散らして、皆の目にさらした映像をいつも思い出す)。ルーマニアは今も腐敗やスキャンダルは絶えないが、海外に暮らす愛国者たちが(正確な人数を失念したが、約500万人だったと思う)独立した調査報道の経済支援を続けているという。「自分の両親はまだルーマニアに住んでいるし。愚政がために、彼らがいかに苦しい人生をおくってきたかを知っている。だからリベンジのつもりで支援している」という。日本にはネットジャーナルや海外の「九条の会」などもあるけれど、似たたぐいの要請が、わが国でも高まっているのではないだろうか。

。。。下につづく

Football (EU/UK)/Soccer (Australia/US) Fever

What a pity the Philippines doesn't have a national football team. Every municipality and barrio in this country of more than 7,000 islands has a basketball court, but a football/soccer field is a rare sight. Its national sport is basketball, which requires a formidable height, i.e. average 6ft 7in (200 cm) for international players - that the majority of its citizens don't have). Whereas, Filipinos are resourceful, creative, hard-working, goal oriented and have a strong family/community/team spirit - qualities that make a football/soccer champion.

This coming Saturday (the 16th), 3rd day of the World Cup, it will be Australia - France; and there's going to be a party at home irrespective of the outcome of the match as we are both Australian and French citizens living in France. One of my family members, however, seems to favour France as he believes it'll fare better at the final stages. On the contrary, I will definitely cheer for the Socceroos because the Aussies occupy a special place in my heart.

I haven't met someone in France and Luxembourg (where I work) who thinks that the green and gold team will be the "vainqueur". Well, I always applaud and rally for the so called “underdog” and believe in the “David and Goliath" story. (With incredible support and financial rewards, France is definitely the latter. According to ''Soccer Laduma'', Paul Pogba is said to be earning £290,000 (328,892.95 EUR) a week at United, Paris Saint-Germain wonderkid Kylian Mbappe on £262,000, and Ousmane Dembele on £220,000 a week. About 17,000 tickets have already been sold to the French fans on their way to Russia).

Civility, respect and responsibility

It was a beautiful sunny morning; unlike the previous three months, it was neither raining nor snowing. At 7:30 in the morning, there were already more than 20 cross-border commuters lining up for the public transport. On the same street “Place de la liberté”, there was a local bus waiting for the traffic light to turn green. We watched in disgust as four teenage girls opened its window and threw empty cartons of orange juice that landed in front of the queueing passengers. I got out of the queue and picked these up then gave them a disappointing look wondering whether they realised that they had just exposed publicly their uncivility. When I returned from the nearest bin, their bus had left and mine had arrived, and no one uttered a word.

I didn’t think twice; picking up that litter was an instinctive reaction. I didn’t expect or want recognition from anyone; however, if I see you removing a piece of rubbish left lying in a public place, I’ll definitely give you some words of encouragement. Littering is hazardous for our health and environment.

During my first two years in France, while in parks and playgrounds with my toddler, I used to pick up wrappers of snacks and boxes of juice and put these in the bin while asking myself whether it was the kids or their parents who littered.

Whose responsibility is it when children litter: parents or society?

We, as parents, have an immense responsibility and opportunity in educating our children to be respectful of people, properties and our environment. Our words and actions help shape our children’s values and behaviours. If they deliberately litter, we must tell them why this is unacceptable. (When my son was 3 years old, he said, “Mummy’s bag is a fridge and a bin” because I had water, snacks and fruits every time we went out and kept all wrappers till we found a garbage bin). If the parents litter, their children are likely to do the same, and this is a societal problem.

Inequality in Germany by Michael Hartmann

(a blog post written by my German friend Guido)

Professor Hartmann

Michael Hartmann is an emeritus professor of Technical University Darmstadt

Summary

Social and economic inequality is increasing in Germany faster than in all other developed countries (EU. US, JP, AU, CA, etc.)

Real income (not gross income) has not increased for the average German since the end of the 1990s, and today it has even fallen back to the level of beginning of the 1990s. Most alarming is the increase of income disparity caused by extreme concentration of wealth:

  • +17% for the top 10%,
  • -14 % for the bottom 10%
  • Total: +30% difference in 20 years.

(Continue to read...)

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