n.47 May/June 2013

A year ago it was a country receiving immigrants, rich and prosperous. Now the Irish are emigrating once more, like a century ago. They choose Australia, a rich continent still full of dreams. They are ready for anything in order to survive, even work as a lollypop person holding signs on the street. Mary works on George Street holding a sign that says “Slow down”.

Many young people see Europe as above all offering an opportunity to move to other countries and change their perspective. Thousands of Spaniards, Greeks and Italians are migrating north in the hope of a brighter future. This migration wave – for many an opportunity but for others a necessity, not a choice – could affect the current structure of various countries.

A letter from the underworld, from a hole dug out beneath hundreds of metres of rock and coal. It’s June. Josè Antonio Perez and six other comrades have been holed up in a tunnel of the Santa Cruz del Sil mine for three weeks. They send word to say, “We’ll only come out when the government has given us an answer”.

Land given to farmers, fair rents, ‘redistribution’ of groceries. For over 30 years, Mayor Sánchez Gordillo has been fighting on the barricades, leading a small town in Southern Spain towards utopia. There is no unemployment here; farmers, office employees and blue-collar workers all earn the same wage; decisions are made through direct participation and social equity is seen as the way to survive the crisis.

France has to face up to the fury of redundant workers, students and the fears of the middle classes. Hollande displays great aplomb and wants to project an image of a leader firmly at the helm. The African missions by French troops also help to portray the idea of a strong and resolute country.

Viktor Orbàn has changed the constitution, abolished freedom of the press and challenges requests made by the ECB but Europe doesn’t apply sanctions against him, nor does Brussels seem to worry about his politics too much. Just a few isolated voices have called for action.

The lights go out in the Nova Gorica’s casino; their gaudy signs remind one of the fleeting dream of an economic boom that never really took off in Slovenia. Even the queues of Italian cars in line to cross the border have dwindled. The economic crisis lands Slovenia in a chaos that has now become political.

A lack of job opportunities is leading many young qualified Greeks to leave their country, some forever. The most ancient country in Europe will soon become Europe’s oldest country as well, with repercussions on the economy, welfare and health services.

Madame Soula, once one of the most attractive women in Thessaloniki, is now a well-known and respected prostitute. She owns a chain of brothels and sponsors a football team, Voukefalas that play in a pink shirt sporting the Villa Erotica logo.

Lengthy negotiations are underway between two astute merchants who will do anything to cheat one another. The vendor (Greece) does not want to sell off its goods while at the same time it is trying to avoid them being seized and the buyer (Turkey) is trying to hide its conquering ambitions.

Dogan Yalcindag has headed the TUSIAD – Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association – and here describes the approach that Turkey and Europe should adopt in their relations.

Insurance covers everything, except what happens to you. This popular saying has never been so true as in Cyprus recently, where small investors saw their deposits, which had previously been absolutely guaranteed, threatened with drastic cuts over the course
of just a few days.

In times of crisis a new way of living is being developed, cohousing. It means leaving together while still having one’s own individual spaces, rediscovering the true value of neighbourhood that urban forms of existence have quashed.

A minority with ancient roots, Christians are not foreigners in the Middle East and have often held positions of power. They are very much involved in the transformations underway in the area and are surprisingly siding with the establishment.

There has been no spring for Tunisian homosexuals, who are forced to conceal their identity and suffer vicious attacks and discrimination. Yet they continue to fight quietly for their rights. The “revolution” did little to improve their situation and now, two years on from the fall of Ben Ali, they face growing homophobia.

It looks like the same country, it behaves more or less like the same country, but post-election Israel (and maybe pre-election Israel too, only no-one noticed), is different.

Does China pose a threat or provide an opportunity for Europe? The Old Continent has been asking itself this question for years, but it has yet to come up with an answer.
And it’s hardly likely to find one now, seeing as how the global financial crisis has upset the applecart even for Eastern prospects of growth and development, let alone Western ones.

To extract just a few tons, huge volumes of soil have to be dug up, rich in radioactive elements. Rare earth elements are essential for the of manufacture smartphones, computers and in high – speed, state-of-the-art technology. But the extraction process can be devastating and very polluting.