Inching Closer to Invariable Totalitarianism

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A week ago, I received the rather unexpected Canada Census slip in the mail, with the all-too-well known, yet still alarming text of “Complete the census – it’s the law,” plastered over the eerie yellow paper. I paid no heed to its intimidating form. I threw it on my desk and placed it outside of my mind until the news feed was overflowing with articles commending the entire nation’s’ apparent enthusiasm with completing it. The form which aims to collect personal information from all households, and the one which promises that if not completed it could lead to a $500 fine or even up to three-months imprisonment.

The imperceptible feeling that I must comply to share is that I am not quite sure what is more terrifying, the actual penalties for not completing the census, or the overzealous joy of complying with the state – the being, and entity which of course necessitates trust, especially in a liberal country such as ours, but surely not with such enthusiasm. I am not sure whether the institutionalization of the collection of data itself seems like a viable bureaucratic necessity. Nor whether, it has led to the normalization of mass compliance, by so many of my co-patriots.

Whether it is both a symbiotic relationship between the submissive masses, or the ever-growing power of the state. Or whether power is exercised from one side towards the other. The answer to these questions necessitate perhaps an entire treatise. The fact remains, that although this doesn’t mean that totalitarianism is just around the corner, it certainly seems to be an aspect of it. Something which is entertained with the utmost eagerness, by what seems to be most facets of Canada – including most forms of media on most of the political spectrum.

The census has been part of Canada since 1871, a few years after Confederation which sought to try and discern the ever present cultural and ethnic mosaic that has made up this nation, as well as the numerous Indigenous nations within it. In 1912, interestingly, the first federal organization was set up – the Dominion Bureau of Statistics – which employed its power to try and find out the makeup of Canada from “mare ad mare.” It was in the post-war years however, coupled with the relative prosperity, that the census became a truly Canadian “tradition” per se. The last census conducted was in 2011.

Yet there is hope, at least an act of symbolic yet also salient rebellion, when some such as Janet Churnin refused to complete the mandatory census and was taken to court for it. She was found guilty with violating Statistics Canada, but showed no remorse. It is such incidences which at times relay some hope. Although she was slapped with a sentence of 50 hours of community service, at the age of 79, she expressed that she was happy “to make a point.” Therein lies the individuality of a person, remained intact, unmoved by the ever-expanding power of the state.

The question that has been hovering in my thoughts however is whether the apparent eagerness of Canadians to complete the census was the result of fear of facing the penalties? Was it perhaps the enthusiasm of aiding future historians that will look at the data we put in the system, and make large claims, perhaps even sweeping generalizations based on some numbers?

Perhaps, there is something scarier than those two options- perhaps it is the ardor to give away information, found interminably in their joy of subservience, in the joy of becoming one with the fold- the utter collectivism of anonymity. Of placing one’s voice in a chorus of sheer imperceptibility- and thus the deviation of individuality. Ultimately what I mean is the happiness that comes with utter subservience, and Foucaultian “docility” that is welcomed. One’s proselytization to the group, yielding to the national form, and thus happily giving into a Kafkaesque reality which most secretly love to be a part of. I assume.

You may think this sounds dramatic – especially over something as simple as a census. Yet I ask, humbly, why must the state impose a penalty if one fails to complete it? Why is that not the detail which causes worry in the hearts of people, who wish to live in a free country, based on liberal ideals? The argument that this is for the ‘common good’ of the nation, has been long exhausted – used so many times before by totalitarian states.

It is not that I am arguing against the importance of the census, for I know it’s dire need – perhaps even in the long-form. But a choice must be given to complete it out of one’s free will. Anything but is antithetical.

The question that needs to be asked: Is totalitarianism inching ever-closer to us, or are we gladly slowly taking steps towards its shadow? Is it democratic for the state to demand information from the citizens of a country?

Opinion by Milad Doroudian

Jamala’s Victory

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I have learned not to blow Eurovision out of all proportion. However the victory which was gained by Susana Jamaladynova – by her stage name Jamala – is beyond getting the first place in a competition or singing a song in mother language in European stage.

I could not sleep the night I heard what happened in 18th of May, 1944 from my wife Elvina – who was not my wife that time yet – whose grandparents suffered from the same thing. Although I had never seen or heard,  I could not help hearing the voices or seeing the faces of Crimean Tatars who had been fiercely exiled from their homeland in one night.

Realizing my unawareness of a massive murder which was committed against my cognates right beside me – on the North coast of Black Sea which is just across my hometown Samsun – was as devastating as learning the sufferings.

Now, thanks to Jamala’s marvelous song and victory, a great number of people will learn about Crimean Tatar Exile in 1944.

Those who will hear Jamala’s scream at the end of the song will also hear the tearful screams of Crimean Tatar kids, ladies and elderlies who were savagely plucked off from their homeland while their brothers , fathers , husbands were fighting for Soviets whose commander – Stalin – was the person who signed the order of this massacre.

Jamala’s victory has not only made all Crimean Tatars proud but also has given them chance to be heard of. Just like Cengiz Dağcı, the most famous writer of their history thanks to whose novels millions of people have heard about Crimea and Crimean Tatars.

The dark history behind the song makes it a powerful message for everyone regardless of any nationality:

Music and words are much more powerful and long lasting than brutality.  Goodness will always win no matter how strong the latter is.


From Requiems to Republics: Seamus Heaney, Pablo Neruda and 1916

Seamus Heaney
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Easter Monday in Ireland will mark the centenary of a failed rebellion against British rule in Ireland, while April will see the anniversary of the birth of the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Two events that, at least for me, are connected and both are essential facets of how I see myself and my country. Though Oscar Wilde meant it as a slight, sometimes my passions are a quotation. Other times, a passport.

During the Rising, key buildings were taken over by Irish nationalists and bullets rained down on Dublin streets. The leaders and signatories of the 1916 Proclamation – people (and writers) such as Patrick Pearse and James Connolly – were captured and shot by the British government after the failure of the insurrection.

It was an uprising that occurred during a World War, an armed stand-off watched from afar by Lenin in Moscow, it was more than just a local affair. Indeed, Indian doctors studying medicine in Dublin joined the resistance, as did many Jews who had immigrated into Ireland throughout the 19th Century. All told, Irish nationalism – as it usually does – enjoyed an internationalist dimension, a sentiment chorused in our national anthem Amhrn na bhFiann, and underlined by the outward looking human rights advocacy of the State from the 1960s onwards.

The Poets

Though this is not an account of the 1916 Rising per se. Exiled as I am by the failure of the Celtic Tiger and my own wanderlust, this significant memory in the collective Irish soul gives pause for reflection on my sense of Irishness and how it is wrapped up in Seamus Heaney and a Chilean – Pablo Neruda. I do, of course, identify with the men and women who gave their lives for a free Ireland, but this a more personal account of what Ireland respresents to me – an Irish nationalist safe from British guns and a writer who, hitherto, has not been recognized with a Nobel Prize for Literature.

13th June 1966: EXCLUSIVE Chilean poet and activist Pablo Neruda (1904 - 1973) leans on a ship's railing during the 34th annual PEN boat ride around New York City. He wears a cap. (Photo by Sam Falk/New York Times Co./Getty Images)

I grew up on Heaney and Neruda. I also grew up on Capri-Suns and Batman, but that is a reminiscence for another day. The two men were quite political in their writings, the former lamenting the ravages of Troubles in Northern Ireland, and the latter forlorn over the destruction of the Spanish Civil War and the legacy of empires. They both shared a need to preserve ordinary people an ordinary objects. Heaney celebrates his mother and ‘her white nails… raising scones against two ticking clocks’ and another poem speaks of the wallets and keys strewn across the road, exploded from the pockets of the recently blown up by the bombs of paramilitary forces. Neruda, for his part, catalogued plants and rocks, mountains, books, and food until he fell in exhaustion into his poem Too Many Names, a poem where ‘time lost its shoes’ and the poet breaks the fourth wall and obliterates his structure. Think the Coen Brothers and Barton Fink, but less playfully and more with a whine.

Right now, aside from watching the official commemoration of 1916 from afar, I am reading – and listening – to Heaney and his epic translation of Beowulf. The New York Times called it a better Beowulf and went on to tease out the irony of man with a dislike of the dominance the English language had over the Gaelic tongue translating one of the defining texts in Anglo-Saxon culture. You can read the superb analysis of the translation here.

It is a work that links me again to the words of Neruda, particularly his work And How Long? Both texts focus on atempts to give life to things – ideas, nature, nations. If Beowulf dies, and if Neruda tires, what are we to do? If the Irish State is turning a 100 soon, where do we go? Time is the knife that cuts all our imagined and realised hopes into successes, failures, and missed opportunities.

Seamus Heaney
Dublin on the night Ireland becomes a Republic

In general, they shared more things. The equality proclaimed by 1916 extended to how these poets wanted their poems to be transmitted and to the audience they hoped to reach. While Heaney called Eminem a modern poet and showed himself adaptable to the evolution of the artistic use of language, Neruda busied himself with writing poems that could be recited out loud and to everybody. No child of poetry would be left behind.

The role of nature ran through the different periods of Neruda, from the ‘tomatoes, stars of the earth’ of Ode to the Tomato finding roots in Heaney and his Death of a Naturalist, where little children observed frogs to see the weather ‘yellow in the sun, brown in the rain’.


A recent opinion piece in The Irish Times was titled – Our independence sprang from more than violence alone, and it is true. We had a democractic mandate from the people, an organized government staffed with brilliant men and women, and a cultural breath that gave life to the nascent organs of the emerging State. There was also an internationalism that bridged the geographical synapses of different peoples and nations that shared a common sense of how a nation should be organized and how the people within should be protected, an internationalism that has defined Ireland throughout its history.

In this Easter weekend and centenary of 1916, I doff my cap to two men so connected to my sense of self, to my Ireland. To Neruda, the poet hailed by the people as their voice, and Heaney, ‘whose passport green… never toasted the British Queen’ – two men who turned their back on imperialism and their souls and pens toward a common humanity. A common humanity hoped for by 1916, with the promise of universal sufferage and equal rights. We come full circle, like all the arcs of all the poets that reach in themselves and find the world.

Requiem for the Croppies by Seamus Heaney 

The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley…
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp…
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people hardly marching… on the hike…
We found new tactics happening each day:
We’d cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
Until… on Vinegar Hill… the final conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August… the barley grew up out of our grave.

Crimean Tatars – The Struggle Of A Nation

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It is three o’clock at night. Your front door is being knocked on heavily. Not completely awake, you come closer to the door. When you open it, the soldier who breaks in tells you to get prepared to leave the house in 15 minutes. You are not aware that these are your last minutes in the house which you have been living in for years…

The entire Crimean Tatar population, an ethnic Turkic nation living in Crimea for centuries, were exiled from their own land on May the 18th , 1944 by Joseph Stalin on charges of collaborating with the Germans in WW2. After a very secret and planned preparation, soldiers carried out the order of Stalin to clear all Crimea from Crimean Tatars in one night.

Nearly half of the population, (approximately 125000 of 250000 consisting only women, kids and elderlies since the men had been fighting for Red Army,) starved or died of various illnesses due to the inhumanly conditions in livestock wagons which were carrying them to the deserts of Middle Asia and Ural Mountains.

All Crimean Tatar houses were given to Russian or Ukrainian settlers and village names were changed into Russian in one night. Books, cemeteries, anything related to Crimean Tatar existence were destroyed brutally by Soviets.

Crimean Tatars in exile were forced to work in Kolhozes, were prohibited from leaving their location, speaking their native Crimean Tatar language even mentioning their ethnic identity and their dreadful exile experience by strict rules, disobedience against which resulted in death or imprisonment in labour camps not less than 10 years.

After Stalin’s death, all nations who were exiled by Soviets, were allowed to return to their homeland except Crimean Tatars. Only after a long and painful struggle Crimean Tatars gained the right to rejoin their beloved homeland in 90’s.

Starting a new life in their own homeland was not easy as they were exposed to intense suppression from Russians and Ukrainians who captured their land and houses half a century ago.

After 72 years, Crimean Peninsula still remains its exclusive statue which can not be shared by Ukraine and Russia as Crimean Tatars, the indigenous inhabitants of Crimea, are too few in number to claim their independence in the land of their own ancestors.

Letter by Emre Seven

The Real Reason For China’s Slowdown

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Central Banks manipulate the price of money using several different tactics for controlling interest rates. One of those mechanisms is buying assets like bonds. The last easing program that the Federal Reserve conducted ended in Oct. of 2014. Even though interest rates are still at a record low in the United States, the effects of ending Quantitative Easing have been felt across the globe. Namely with our largest trading partners. Europe, Canada and China have all faced slowing economies since the end of the program. In Europe, the ECB is combating the problem with a record asset buying program. And so far it has kept Europe afloat.

The largest effect of this asset buying program, has been the devaluation of the Euro, to close to parity with the US dollar. The idea behind this is easing is to strengthen exports and create inflation with the intention of spurring growth.  When central bankers devalue their currencies, each major bank gets to ease its currency when its economy is most in need. After QE3, the Japanese and European economies were slowing at a rapid pace. The burden of US easing could no longer be put on their shoulders, and the ECB soon began to cheapen its currency. As an effect of this, the US dollar index started to rise precipitously in July of 2014. The index’s rise was further strengthened with the possibility of a US Interest Rate hike being brought into focus by Chair Yellen. As a result the US economy began to face more economic pressure, and it started to show in the data.

One may ask how any of the above is critical to understanding why China’s economy is slowing, or why the People’s Bank of China devalued the Yuan by 2%, but it is the key foundation for accurate analysis.

The Yuan is directly pegged to the Dollar. If the dollar becomes more valuable then the yuan does likewise. This may seem trivial but it is absolutely essential to realize. US Central Bank policy that effects the value of the dollar, will also heavily effect the Yuan. Since the dollar has been rising in value against the Euro and the Yen, so has the Yuan.

One of the largest effects of a strong currency is stong cheap imports and weak expensive exports. This explains part of the large inventory buildup seen in the US. China is heavily dependent on its exports. The lower demand for higher priced Chinese exports dragged on the sector and has contributed to their slowing economy.

Rather than breaking their peg with the US Dollar the PBOC decided to directly devalue their currency against the dollar to provide stimulus for their economy and relief to their export industries.  Despite this small devaluation China will continue to face pressure as long as the dollar remains strong, and Central Banks continue their manipulation of interest rates.

The amount of malinvestment in China and economies around the world will continue to make global markets unstable in the years to come. But instead of blaming the Chinese for their slowdown, one must really look at the underlying reasons why systemically that slowdown is inevitable. In the meantime we will continue to hear the word “China” blasted three hundred times per day from every news network, financial channel, and every Donald Trump interview.

By Andrew Gehrig

Elections In Turkey – The Country Of Dilemmas 

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Western or Eastern, European or Asian, modern or traditional, secular or religious? Having struggled between many opposing sides throughout their history, the Turkish people are struggling on the border of another dilemma nowadays: to go on with the ruling party which has been in charge for the last 13 years or to choose a new party to form the government as well as the country’s future.

Former elections in June left an impasse and no single party gained a governing majority, which was a great shock for the ruling AK Party which has lost its 13-year “one party” statue in spite of Erdoğan’s efforts during the election campaigns. Opposition parties and several institutions fired away at President Erdoğan accusing him of abusing his presidential power on behalf of the AK Party by asking “400 deputies ” from voters to change the constitution and to establish a presidential system.

Deprived of the majority but having the most of the votes, the AK Party’s new leader Davutoğlu had been asked to form a new government within 45 days by president Erdoğan, which failed after negotiations with other parties’ leaders. Following this, President Erdoğan used his right granted by Turkey’s Constitution and decided to hold a new election after the 45-day period expired without the formation of a government.

The parliamentary re-election on the 1st of November will result in not only party selection but also the people’s decision on Erdoğan’s presidency. If the AK Party gains at least 400 deputies and has the majority there is no doubt that the presidential system is going to be established and Erdoğan is going to be declared the supreme leader of the country. But if the result does not change, difficult times will start for the AK Party which may lead it to dissolution.

The decision is not so easy to be made as Turkish People are divided into two groups — as usual — on Erdoğan’s identity. His followers see him as an unquestionable Islamic and national hero who should be in charge with full authority while the others see him as the dictator head of a corrupted and kleptocratic regime who abuses his power and manipulates Islamic values.

But Erdoğan’s identity is not the only dilemma which complicates the situation for a Turkey which has been ruled by the same party for 13 years. On one hand the tarnished image of a ruling party with the claims of corruption and being over-oppressive and on the other hand an incompetent image of the other parties with bad reputations seem to confuse voters who see no obvious selection between the two.

Besides the unsolved mystery of the recent terrorist attacks and the inconsistent comments made by authorities on the Kurdish situation, there are other issues which will have a deep effect upon parliament’s formation depending on voters critical opinions on HDP, the party which has mainly but not only Kurdish but also leftist and even nationalist Turkish followers as well as strong haters and which won 80 deputies in the former election with the campaign against Erdoğan’s presidency and deprived the AK Party of the majority.

Turkey is getting through difficult times between political dilemmas. And the future does not seem to be easier.

Analysis by Emre Seven

Canada Gears Up For Most Heated Election In Over A Decade

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Canada is gearing up to vote in what many believe will be the most heated election in over a decade. This will be the longest campaign in Canada since 1872, spanning 11 weeks.

The election date was announced by Prime Minister Steven Harper at the beginning of August, propelling Canadians to engage in political conversations in grocery stores, on neighbors’ porches, at parties, and above all — as is normal in our time — on various online platforms. We saw the four main candidates duke it out in the Maclean’s National Leaders Debate on August 6th, only to see more confounding rhetoric come forth from the mouths of political analysts, or those people who fancy themselves to be political analysts. We need to look beyond the same old political rhetoric, such as the issues of economy, foreign policy, education and so on, and try to understand party policies in their more important details.

The truth is that we have four exceptionally strong candidates, something which has not happened for a long time in Canadian politics. Still this nation is not about electing prime ministers; rather it is about electing MP’s in the house. Although I forget this occasionally, I am sure that many others do as well. The next few months will be paramount to the future of Canada, as many remain adamant in their support of the Conservative party, many are also starting to feel that Harper has been in office far too long. It is obvious that it will be a tight race between the Liberals and Conservatives, but it also seems like the NDP is making headway, according to recent polling.

At the end of the day the main issue comes down to the fact that the economy — in other words to Canada’s almost technical recession during the past five months. While the dollar is falling and the economy is contracting, all fingers are of course pointed at Harper’s government. In the recent debate, Trudeau, Mulcair, and May all used this to levy against Harper, while the prime minister himself attacked the other three on their major platform plans for raising taxes across all sectors of Canada in order to strengthen the social safety net. For a moment it was like watching Friedman, although a not so eloquent or educated version, debating ‘Kenesyan’ economists.

Canada currently finds itself at a multiple crossroad, and whichever way the nation chooses to take the future is somewhat precarious. Whether the people choose another four years of Harper, Mulcair’s potential steady leadership, or Justin’s refreshing ways, I think the real issue here is what do Canadians believe would be a better Canada? One that maintains a Conservative foothold or one that moves towards the left? Rather, a Canada with Harper or without him?

I have not mentioned May, as although she was a strong presence in the debate, she is still the leader of a one-issue-party that has no room in the moderate Canadian landscape that we all envision. The truth is, regardless of whether we like it or not, the thing that is on most people’s minds as of this moment is not the environment, but the economy. More precisely, not the fact that Canada has not met emission standards in years, but why the Canadian dollar is plummeting. 

Canada needs a strong leader that can face issues head on, but it also needs a strong party. As our national safety is being debated amid all governmental institutions down to twitter discussions, Bill C-51 is a big concern in this campaign. Mulcair and May are heavily against the bill. Trudeau believes that the bill is a good idea, yet he still has made it clear that he wants to change some of its amendments and policies. The question is, if Mulcair or May do become PM’s in December, will they be able to do something about it?

All of this is mere politics, and what I mean by “mere” is that we hear the same old rhetoric, and the same old lines on the most prevalent issues of our time, with no real candor. The very fact that the debate was not pugnacious, is only a determiner of the fact that all four candidates were scared to hit the nails on the head. It would be exceptionally interesting to see therefore what the candidates’ opinion on more specific issues such as the recent Iran nuclear deal is. In a recent article by Bob Rae, he has made the case that Canada needs to be wholly clear on its stance over the Iran nuclear deal. We all know that Harper is rightly an important ally of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu, but the truth is that Canada’s relations with the United States are at an “historic low,” one of the reasons being its unyielding support for Israel.

The issue of Israel is another important point of contention, and one which will probably cost Mulcair. Although they all have expressed support for Israel-some more than others- Mulcair has pushed the idea of supporting Palestine as well which is a position that the current government has not taken and might not be too popular. Last year the Forum Poll posted a small poll that suggests that on average Canadians are split on the Israel-Palestine issue, but a majority of them choose not to “pick sides.” It is obvious that the elections in October will show us how the Canadian public feels.

The truth is that politics are distressingly perplexing, but amid all of the rhetoric there is another level that affects the way voters actually vote, one which is far more simple, and that is the case of image. Ben Shapiro, the political commentator, makes the case in his book Project President that in the U.S. the issue of image has always been important to the way voters learn to trust candidates. The same is easily applied to Canadian politics as well. When we look at Justin and his youthful demeanor it is easy to see that there is an ideal energetic outlook to the way he presents himself. On the other hand, Harper although aging, has a different cool, collected, calm to him that shows him off to be a leader that knows what he is doing. Mulcair and May seem to have a more empathetic and approachable vibe to them. Although we hate to admit it, as Ben Shapiro suggests, the truth is that things like how candidates are dressed, how they look, and how they act are crucial to voters simply due to the fact that it is a part of human nature.

Despite the obvious problem of image, as well as vague opinions on national and international issues, we need to place our trust as voters in the ideas of the parties that we feel appeals most to us, and not necessarily in the leadership, however hard that may be. This is a country whose political system has been built on representation, therefore when one votes in their own riding it is essential they choose a party that represents them the most, and not just simply how they feel about the party’s leader. Regardless of whether one is anti-Harper, or anti-Trudeau, the important thing remains that the Canadian populace votes in October.

Analysis by Milad Doroudian

Photo by Saffron Blaze

In A Visionless Africa, The Colonial Legacy Will Remain

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Corruption continues to flourish in Africa because of small and selfish elites whose interests are served by such fraudulent dealings. In Africa there is no accountability in the public sector, there are no checks and balances to restrain the various governments and – more importantly – there is a severe shortage of visionary leaders.

To be sure, there are in various mechanisms intended to hold the government and individuals to account — such as the Auditor General, the parliamentary public accounts committees, and the judiciary — but these institutions have been consistently demonstrated to be weak and ineffective in the face of high-level corruption. They are like the spider’s web which catches only the small insects but are woefully inadequate when it comes to bigger ones.

The problem is the constant refusal to look at the problem in its historical context. The culture of impunity did not just appear; it has roots in colonialism, where political and administrative institutions were set up to facilitate the exploitation of the continent and its people. Native African chiefs who looked after their peoples’ interests were routinely deposed and replaced by those more willing to implement colonial policy. Virtually all African countries are now independent but the aims of these institutions remain unchanged. There is therefore little chance that such predatory states can take a principled stand against corruption.

What’s more, the ruling classes are beneficiaries of the old colonial culture of impunity and dependency, and therefore lack vision and a developmental consciousness. Instead of facilitating cohesiveness, they mobilize support on the basis of tribe or religion and thereby promote the culture of “it’s our turn to eat.”

Barack Obama, the U.S. president, has said that corruption denies Kenya 250,000 jobs every year. Now Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria, has appointed a committee to make recommendations on how to tackle the same vice. The committee will no doubt write a beautiful report but, I am sure, it will be shelved and allowed to gather dust.

Opinion by Nicholas Okumu

Illegal African Migration Will Continue, And Will Continue To Harm Africa

Illegal African Migration
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Pressure on the borders of the European Union under the weight of illegal migration from Africa will continue unabated so long as policy makers in both continents do not pay the necessary attention to the issues of democracy, justice, fair trade and the expansion of economic opportunity.

Many of Africa’s most enterprising people routinely leave their rural areas and move to the cities and urban centers in search of quality education, formal employment, higher standards of living and channels for their creativity. What they find, however, is chronic unemployment, informal settlements and bureaucratic intolerance or political tyranny. The resulting material deprivation coupled with the lack of institutional arrangements for political participation and decision making means that the vast majority of the population is unable to transform themselves or their surroundings. What follows is the erosion of self-respect, the loss of self-confidence and finally desperate actions.

The illegal migrations to Europe also reflect the failure of international trade to raise the living standards of the poor: Africa is rich in resources but her people are poor because the value addition to her resources is carried out in the industrialized countries. Furthermore, the inability to negotiate better prices for her primary products means that Africa pays more and more for her imports while earning less and less for her exports thus entrenching poverty. A few years back I attended a public lecture by the renowned Ghanaian novelist, Ayi kwei Armah, in which he explained that Africans were not running away from their continent but were simply “following their resources.”

Africa’s illegal migrants are in desperate need of empowerment, personal dignity and self-worth. Many would have preferred to stay home but are now wasting away in European refugee camps or lie buried at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.

Analysis by Nicholas Okumu

A New Resolution to Save Southern Italy from Social and Economic Stagnation

Southern Italy
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A few days before the beginning of August vacations, the center-left government of Italy, lead by Matteo Renzi, announced reforms and investments to lunch the economic take off of the regions of the south after long years of stagnation.

Following the meeting of the PD party (democratic Party), held on the 7th of august, the Prime Minister presented a long-term plan for investments worth a total of 100 billion to be spent over the next 15 years. The main goal of the resolution is to boost infrastructure, create new opportunities for entrepreneurs and offer more opportunities for growth in the tourism industry.

The resolution comes after a very harsh letter published in the national newspaper La Repubblica, in which the internationally renowned Italian writer and journalist, Roberto Saviano, wrote: “Dear Premier, the south is dying: Everybody is leaving, even Mafia.”

The opinion piece that generated the reaction of the institutions was based upon a yearly report released by ISTAT (Italian National Institute for Statistics) that looks at the economic and social condition of each region along with aggregate data on the macro regions, such as north, center and south. The outcomes present a critical situation in Southern Italy compared with the rest of the country. The report lead in the past few weeks to manifestations of concern from all parties, calling for the government to react to the situation, which threatens to endanger the economy of the entire nation.

According to the report, in the past 15 years Southern Italy grew at half the speed of Greece, despite having a population of approximately 20 million people compared with Greece’s 16 million. Svimez summarized its analysis by declaring: “Southern Italy is at risk of industrial desertification, with the consequence that the lack of human, entrepreneurial and industrial resources might lead it to miss the opportunity for an economical and financial recovery. The cyclical crisis risks to become chronic underdevelopment.” 

The report shows that only 5.8 million people (of 20 million) are employed and that only one woman out of five has a job. The employment rate of women between 35 and 64 years of age in Italy is 64%; in the south it is 35%. In 2014, the number of families that went below the poverty threshold rose substantially. Last year, 390 thousands new families became “poor.” 37.5% are in Southern Italy (Sicily 41%, Campania 37,7%). The study showed that in the north one family out of 10 is at risk of falling under the poverty threshold. In the south the ratio is much higher, it is one out of three.

In accordance with the aforementioned situation, the government has investment plans, which are supposed to raise the GDP, creating new job opportunities and fostering the recovery and stabilization of the market. Minister of Economic Development Federica Guidi, defined this plan as a new “Marshall Plan” for the south.

The new resolution, which will be published by the government in the next few weeks, tries to address a series of problems that affected the south for decades and that constitute the so-called “Southern Question.” The chronic inability of the south to grow is due to a series of elements, such as the infiltration of criminal organizations within the economical and political texture of the society, the mismanagement of public assets, the strong lack of parameters and means of control of the state and of privates, the inability of the state to properly manage public resources and investments in an efficient and effective way, the structural stagnation of the market and the difficulties to properly connect the region of the south with the rest of the nation and eventually with Europe as well. Those are some of the elements that led to the straightening of organized crime (such as Mafia and Camorra), substantially contributing to slow down the economical and social development of the southern regions.

The aforementioned elements are some of the main causes that also led many people, both from the left and the right, to heavily criticize the government for the choice of investing even more resources in the regions in Southern Italy. Many politicians and journalists criticized the government for proposing reforms which do not tackle the problem at the source. Il Giornale, a national center-right newspaper, reports that from 2009 up until 2014, the state spent 45 billion, along with other 390 billion from 1951 to 2009. The outcomes of these investments, it says, produced 20% unemployment and 56% of youth unemployment. The national unemployment is 12.8 and the youth unemployment is 42,7%. Southern Italy is considerably below the national average. As the right-wing parties underline, Premier Renzi should revise his model of development.

The reply of the center-left government was the creation of a commission, supervised by Renzi itself, with the aim of efficiently managing the funds addressing investment without wasting important resources.

By the end of august, the government will publish a detailed dossier along with the first set of reforms.

Analysis by Cesare Baccheschi

Conor McGregor: Irish pride

Conor McGregor: Irish pride
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This Celtic warrior personifies Ireland

Conor McGregor is the white Muhammad Ali. I say this because of what the American boxer represented to his people. He was always cognizant of what his success meant to underprivileged African-Americans in the USA. McGregor embodies something similar: his Irish red beard, ripped UFC torso, his cutting mouth and his fixed mind obliterates opponents and stereotypes alike. He is arrogant, trenchant, and he is our’s.

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Greece is heading for the polls: “Yes” or “No”?

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In a few hours Greece will be heading to the polls to answer the question, “Should the plan of agreement, which was submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the Eurogroup of 25.06.2015 and is comprised of two parts that constitute their unified proposal, be accepted?”

The turnout of the referendum will determine Greece’s future position in the Eurozone, but also its own economic stability. Only last Tuesday the country defaulted on its 1.5 billion Euro loan from the IMF, which means that Greece is officially bankrupt.

Over the last few years Greece has been in an economic crisis which has led to two major bailouts by the EU in order to continue the country’s economic prosperity. However, the new government, led by Prime Minister Alex Tsipras, has made it clear that it no longer wants to accept the new bailout proposed by the Eurogroup, as it would come with a package of severe austerity measures which would only further cripple Greece.

A protestor outside the Greek parliament building on 29 June 2015, holding a sign reading. By Jan Wellman.
A protester outside the Greek parliament building June 29, 2015 – Jan Wellman

Yet the issue is not so black and white, as a “No” turnout would possibly lead Greece to exit the Eurozone and return to its old currency — which would lead to further economic contraction. However Greece votes Sunday, it has a pernicious future ahead.

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has made a declaration suggesting that the creditors have been “terrorizing” Greece with their proposals and that he would not stand for it. He said that if the final turnout is Yes, he will resign his post.

However, it is obvious that if people want to continue with EU aid, the government which has been in power the past two years will most likely dissolve, sending the country into more political turmoil. This of course amid the bank closures that have had a serious effect on cash flow, as people have been lining up at ATMs only to withdraw limited amounts of cash.

The debt crisis has led to unrest amid the populace, as yesterday two major rallies took over in Athens, the “No” and the “Yes” camps, who all urged the populace to vote for what they believe to be the right choice for Greece and its people.

A “No” vote will undoubtedly lead to a serious economic meltdown, however a “Yes” will lead to a postponement of the same consequence, accompanied by serious economic austerity.

As the country is divided on the issue, the EU is urging people to vote “Yes,” which would mean that a Greek exit from the Eurozone would be less likely. Germany, the de facto leader of the EU, has said that “It is clear that we will not leave the [Greek] people in the lurch.”

Today, Greeks all over the nation stood in soup and bread lines. The national interest of the entire Greek people lay with the result of this vote. Whatever happens tomorrow, it is obvious that the times ahead will definitely be difficult for Greece, and the vote will not yield an immediate solution.

Photo Credit / Stephanie Limage of Limage Media Group in Athens July 4th 2015