Category Archives: Europe

Aren’t we all human?

A distressed vessel discovered by the US Navy (USN) Oliver Hazard Perry Class Guided Missile Frigate USS RENTZ (FFG 46) 300 miles from shore with 90 people on board, including women and children.  The RENTZ provided assistance and took the Ecuadorian citizens to Guatemala, from where they would be repatriated. (SUBSTANDARD)

I thought about the best way to start this post, to be honest, as the subject seems to have sparkled controversy everywhere.

These past weeks have been filled with news about refugees entering Europe. They come mostly from Syria (although there are nationals from other countries as well), fleeing the war.

I must say that my Facebook feed looked like a political discussion show past few weeks. The opinions of Europeans were mixed, some want to help, some think that refugees will “steal” our jobs and are an excuse to let terrorists enter Europe. Same thing on comments on news articles online (I need to stop reading those…). I was a bit shocked with the lack of humanity of some comments.

Now, I’m very pragmatic in these type of things. If we could be letting in terrorists disguised as refugees? Yes, perhaps we are. But what about the people that actually need help? Are we going to close the door and say “sorry, busy”?. We need to put ourselves in their shoes. Can you imagine how desperate you have to be to risk your life and your kids’ life to come all the way here? Very desperate. These people are not coming to Europe for a better life. They come because they’ve lost everything.

We can help. And it is important that we help.

Some say that Europe won’t be able to cope for long. Maybe. Can we stop the Syrian war and other existing conflicts, so refugees can go back? That answer would have enough written material for a lot of blog posts, but let me know what you think.

Please, don’t forget that we are all human. No one is better than you, and you are not better than anyone. Compassion makes us human.

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Filed under Europe, International Relations, Others, Refugees

Do you feel safe?

10582094105_4d7d1c3d57_oTerrorism. If you check on Wikipedia, it is defined as (…) violent acts (or the threat of violent acts) intended to create fear (terror), perpetrated for an economic, religious, political, or ideological goal, and which deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants.

For those of you that don’t know, I currently live in the UK. 10 years ago, a series of bombings happened in London, killing 52 people. These were terrorist attacks. Another one had occurred the previous year in Spain. We all know about the 9/11 attacks. Several others happened in the last years, a recent one in Tunisia.

The feeling I had on the anniversary of the bombings here in the UK was of profound sadness. How can anyone, despite their ideology or religion, can do something like that? Take out so many innocent lives? The fact is, they can. And it is happening all over the world.

Today, I was reading about the terrorism threat levels in the UK. I must say that I was a bit shocked to find out that the level is “severe” at the moment, meaning an attack is highly likely. Something like this makes you feel uncomfortable. Now, I am usually a very relaxed person on these types of matters, but I’ve been finding myself more worried than usual once in a while. If first we had Al-Qaeda and others, now we have the Islamic State. And even if the latter disappears there is always going to be some other organisation that will come and enforce fear. And the most disturbing thought is that an attack can happen anytime, anywhere.

So, my main question here is what should be done? As far as we know the war on terror is still ongoing, is that enough/good? Or should we address the issue in a different way?

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Filed under America, Asia, Europe, International Relations, Others

Cante Alentejano – Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

1959684_748760901825878_902386179099073528_nThis post is a bit different from my usual ones.

Most of you know, from my “about” page, that I’m from Portugal. What you don’t know is that I’m from a nice small town called Serpa, in the Alentejo Region (south of Portugal). I’ve always been a proud alentejana (person from Alentejo), but what happened on Thursday at UNESCO made me even prouder.

This week in Paris, UNESCO evaluated around 46 proposals that wanted to become part of the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Portugal submitted one of those proposals (Serpa, my town, was the head of it). I can now proudly say that after this week, cante alentejano, the typical singing of my region is part of that list. I must say that I jumped, I cried, I danced with emotion when I heard the news (I followed the result live).

So what is cante alentejano?

And here is the video of the delegation that went to Paris (which included my brother and some friends 🙂 )

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Filed under Europe, Others

First World War centenary and the state of the world

This morning I had a conversation about the state of the world. It is something that has been on my mind for quite some time, as the number of conflicts keeps increasing. If you look around in the news you will see articles about the Syrian War, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, about problems in Iraq, about the war in Ukraine

The world is a complete, total mess. And how? How did we arrive here?

Last week (28 July 2014) marked the 100 years of the beginning (28 July 1914) of the 1st World War. You can click the link if you want a simple explanation about it. There are several ceremonies around the world regarding WW I, remembering all the sacrifices made, all the lives lost. You can check more here. It is not rare finding a monument to the WW I and II causalities. There is this need for to world not to forget the horror of such a war. So why does it keep forgetting?

In this conversation that I had, I said that I “feel” that something is coming. Now, I don’t like to be a misfortune prophet, as it is really not my style, but I do think that in the next 5, 10, etc years there will be some kind of turning point in these conflict areas. Could be good or could be bad…But there has to be one.

With the experience of the two previous world wars, I try to think that the international community is now too smart to let a 3rd World War start, but I am wrong? Tell me what you think!

 

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Filed under America, Asia, Europe, Middle-East, Others

Nobel Peace Prize – European Union

Today, the European Union received the Nobel Peace Prize.The President of the European Council (Herman Van Rompuy), the President of the European Commission (Durão Barroso) and the President of the European Parliament (Martin Schulz) traveled to Oslo to attend the ceremony.

This prize comes at a time that the European Union has a severe economic crisis in its hands. The prize is intended to be, despite all the criticism, an encouragement to overcome the crisis.
I don’t think that receiving a nobel prize will do much for the crisis-affected countries. I don’t think it will bring more solidarity towards them. Actually, I believe that the European Union will be able to overcome the crisis in some years; nevertheless, this prize will not bring the countries together. I’m not being pessimist, I try to be realist: the European countries will not help each other if that means putting their national interests at stake.
On a lighter note, the European Union has shown that it can be a major ally regarding Peace (and yes, we can argue about the methods, but that subject would be long enough to create another blog!).
We just have to wait to see the outcome of this prize.

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Filed under Europe