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Our editor Victoria Jordan points you in the direction of a few articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about the danger of denial, what truth means today, how countries yearn for the past exceptionalism, and if historical comparisons can help us understand contemporary situations.
Victoria, Editor of Brain & Baby
As much as I wanted to avoid Trump in particular, and the topic of populism in general, in this edition of E&M’s Good Reads, it has been no more escapable in my latest reads that it is in reality, and seems to be constantly lurking in the background of topics I touch upon. But this might actually be positive, because the last thing we need right now is passive acceptance, or even denial, of recent developments in our surroundings in the hopes of making ourselves feel better about the world. (Obviously, that is not to say that we shouldn’t be happy about other things, and smile at the sight of a puppy.)
Our editor Justine Olivier points you in the direction of a few essays and articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about how the EU plans to renew itself, the political consequelces of the refugee crisis in Germany and the risk of Erasmus being a bargaining chip of the Brexit negotiation.
Justine, Sixth Sense and Heart editor
THE RENEWING OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
How to make the European Union appealing again? Does the EU need structural reforms? How to tackle our current security, economic and legitimacy challenges? These are the questions that all leaders of the EU keep mulling over these weeks. Indeed, Brexit, in addition to all the economic and political uncertainty it has brought, has acted as a wake-up call no one can ignore. What's wrong with the EU ? On the day of the referendum results, several European leaders called for substantial reforms. But now is the time for more concrete propositions. This was the aim of the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union speech on Wednesday the 14th of September. Juncker made many propositions, including cutting red tape and boosting investment through the completion of the capital markets union. However, these are neither new nor original. As Tim King analyzes in POLITICO, his speech was not as inspiring as it was meant and expected to be. The speech aimed at being reassuring, as Juncker stressed that in spite of its numerous challenges the EU was strong enough and “not at risk”. The Commission President also emphasized that the way forward is through more union. But at a time of increasing skepticism concerning the positive impact of integration and cooperation among Europeans, there is no certainty that Juncker's words were enough rekindle the much-needed faith in Europe.
Our editor Isabell Wutz points you in the direction of a few essays and articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about the underrated danger of social media in times of terrorisms, how different languages change personalities, and how a young Chinese swimmer reminds everyone what the Olympic Games really are about.
Isabell, Sixth Sense and Legs editor
The underrated danger of social media news in times of terrorims
Almost two months ago an 18year-old man shot several people at a Munich shopping mall. Not long after the news spread, my phone started buzzing with several texts from friends and family living in the city assuring me of their safety. At this point little was known about the incident but the rumour mill was already in overdrive. It was then a friend messaged me, asking if my family was alright concluding with the sentence: “I would have guessed that it catches Berlin or Cologne first…crazy times”. Here I realized how dangerous unfiltered information and speculation can be, especially on publicly accessible social media channels. Interpreting events on the grounds of only a few confirmed facts and much uncertain information can lead us to premature conclusions and as seen in the case of Munich, fear, panic and false accusations. Particularly, in these, well-described, “crazy times”, people tend to quickly condemn situations without having the required knowledge, and thereby we contribute to creating and spreading potentially false narratives online for everyone to see and believe.
Our editor Nicoletta Enria points you in the direction of a few articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about refugees who revive a small Italian village in Calabria, the growing trend of “voluntourism” and how European countries deal with non-physical abuse.
Nicoletta, Baby and Legs editor
A non-conventional Refugee story
The other day I had a rather depressing conversation, or more precisely argument with some people I went to school with about the refugee crisis and more specifically refugees in Italy. This really reminded me of the importance of fair representation of refugees, reminding people that they are not just a mass of displaced people making their way through Europe but are humans coming from a variety of cultures, countries, religions and social backgrounds. This article and photo reportage by Al-Jazeera’s Thomas Bruckner really fit this criteria by representing refugees as humans and casting a light on the positive impact they have had on some societies. In this reportage he casts a light on the story of the mayor of the village of Riace, Domenico Lucano who saw the presence of refugees in Italy as an opportunity to save the shrinking community of Riace and thus started the ‘refugees welcome’ project. I found this article particularly important in standing against the majority of articles about refugees that focus on depicting refugees as a mass of people on rickety boats and the societal problems they cause in society. The photographs show the community of Riace which is not ‘hosting’ refugees but rather incorporates them, reminding us that refugees are humans seeking safety. This really made me think of the importance to keep stories like this circulating to fight against prejudice and diminutive stereotypes. When reporting on a phenomenon like the refugee crisis today, it is of vital importance to keep the bigger picture in mind
Our editor Fernando Burgés points you in the direction of a few essays and articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about former Prime Minister of Sweden Olof Palme, democratic confederalism, the Kurdish question and what we can expect from the economic developments in the coming years.
Fernando, Brain and Heart editor
Between Olof Palme and Murray Bookchin, Democratic Confederalism is the Bysectrix
I recently spent a few days in Stockholm, where I finally had the chance to follow the steps of one of my greatest political heroes, Olof Palme, the former Prime Minister of Sweden, assassinated in 1986. His life, as much as his death, is shrouded in a smoke of mystery and romanticism, worth of a book. Indeed, several have been written, and yet I cannot affirm which is the best, I can certainly recommend the brilliant piece of investigative journalism, Blood on the Snow, by the historian Jan Bondeson.
For those not very acquainted with this man, I highly recommend a documentary A Life in Politics as an introduction. Besides the most famous episodes of his career, it is particularly interesting the policies implemented by him years before taking over as Prime Minister of Sweden. When Palme was the Education Minister, he carried out reforms that revolutionized the country deeply: he replaced student grants for a minority with a student loans system for a larger number of people; expanded further education facilities for adults; integrated preschool into the whole education system; expanded day-care centres and introduced classes on sex and procreation in a straightforward and comprehensive way. Above all, his biographers say, in the kindergartens, Palme revolutionized the prevailing mindset, promoting collectivist values.
Our editor Sam Volpe points you in the direction of a few essays and articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about the lengths the European community has gone to in the name of justice, the stunning work being done by volunteers on Lesvos, and the way in which European myth and history has influenced modern fantasy.
Sam, Diaphragm editor and Project Manager
One of Europe's longest manhunts
A few months ago, former E&M editor Frances Jackson recommended reading Julian Borger's writing about the anniversary of the Srebenica massacre. In January, Borger was at it again, with a fascinating account of the hunt for Bosnian Serb war criminal Ratko Mladic. Borger's writing on the Balkans is rapidly becoming unmissable, and is a fantastic advert for the routinely excellent Guardian Long Read column.
Mladic is one of the more two-dimensionally hideous characters of recent history, and this account of his eventual capture is both nail-biting and bathetic. Dive in to read of the increasingly paranoid manner in which Mladic spent his final days of freedom, and to remember some of the groundbreaking work done by the International Criminal Court.
In the first Good Reads of 2016, former editor Frances Jackson shares a few articles that have got her thinking about Europe over the last few days. Read about contrasting efforts to integrate asylum seekers in Germany and Finland, the publication of a new annotated edition of Mein Kampf, and why the AZERTY keyboard could soon become a thing of the past.
Frances, former Diaphragm / Baby editor
IN search of a common ground
I suppose it’s inevitable that, in the face such a torrent of depressing news stories and seemingly insurmountable hurdles as is the case with the ongoing refugee crisis, we are drawn to examples of journalism that give us hope for the future. Certainly, I think that is what made Herbi Dreiner’s recent guest post for the Guardian stand out for me. He is part of a team at the University of Bonn that has started putting on physics shows with Arabic explanations to help engage young asylum seekers who are still finding their feet in Germany. I love the simplicity of the idea, its optimism and the way it encourages us to find a shared understanding, rather seeking to emphasise differences and deficiencies.
It's that time for another of E&M's editors to suggest their favourite reads: Chris Ruff reflects on what the female involvement in the Islamic State could represent and how far did social media impact the british elections.
Chris, Heart / Legs editor
The women of IS
A powerful article that caught my eye this week is the latest in the New York Times' "State of Terror" series, focusing on the story of three young girls from London who flew to Syria to join the Islamic State in February this year.
The long read has numerous strands to it, including the identity dilemmas of second generation Muslim immigrants in Britain and other Western countries, and the tactics used by IS to lure young women from their safe homes in the West to their violent and dangerous "Caliphate" in the Syrian desert.
But what struck me most was the links to female empowerment and the "twisted form of feminism" that the IS female brigades represent. Of the 4000 foreign fighters who have joined the movement, 550 are estimated to be women and girls. Yet what is clear is that the phenomenon is misunderstood and authorities still don’t know how they should deal with it. One cannot help but notice that the fundamentalist Islamic critique – young Western girls being sexualised from a young age – has some truth to it. But their solution – the complete covering of the face and head and a life of purity and devotion to one’s husband, not to mention actively supporting a murderous regime – is an anathema to our liberal Western values