Selling Death

by bicyclemark 13 Comments

It is a pretty well known fact that the US is the global leader in arms sales. Some will also have heard that Russia is second. But in fact, if you put together all the European Union numbers, in terms of total arms sales in the last 10 years, they come very close to tying the US. Somehow its not a very publicized fact, Europe sells almost as many weapons as the US.

And who gets those weapons? Which countries in the world? Better yet, which groups in the world? Places where there is civil war? Dictatorships? Or civil wars yet to come? I think of all those child soldiers in the world and wonder where their gun came from? USA? France? Probably both.

Global warming gets a fair amount of play in the media these days. There is even some, though surely not enough, mobilization to do something about it. Yet all over the developed world in all these lovely places with people that are so highly educated and experienced, people are engaging in the arms trade. Making money selling weapons for people to kill each other with. Trading stocks and benefiting while people arm themselves and carry out mass murders in the name of the latest cause or call-to-arms. Even in the US now, the favored presidential candidate Hillary CLinton has become the number one choice of weapons manufacturers… and yet people believe she will bring change and restore some sort of self respect for the nation.

With each passing year that arms dealers post record profits, more people die needlessly in the name of business and strategic defense. If that isn’t a threat to our world, I don’t know what is.

bm228 The Polish Highway Debate

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

One of the newer members of the European Union, Poland plans to build a highway to the Baltic states. However part of that highway would run through an ecological preserve. The classic debate begins, development versus conservation. Economy versus Environment.

First guest is Peter of the Beatroot, who blogs on Poland and Eastern European Affairs.
Second guest is Ellen Townsend of Birdlife International in Brussels

Discussion Includes:
– The proposed highway
– The reasons for construction
– The route it takes and the risks involved
– public opinion locally and nationally in Poland
– the view from brussels
– EU environmental regulations
– Lobbying Brussels
– Alternate Plans
– The state of the case
– European Court of Justice
– Development versus environment

 

Highway Through Poland

by bicyclemark

With all the problems related to automobile exhaust and the destruction of wetlands throughout the world, I didn’t expect to hear that an EU nation was pushing to build a new highway through wetlands in order to connect to neighboring countries. But that is what has been going on in Poland.

It is not a new story, but it is an unresolved issue that seemingly doesn’t make the radar of most European media. Or if it does, it is summarized in brief in a tiny little column.

HighwayIn the latest reports I’ve found at this moment, construction of the highway has been haulted because of pressure from the EU. But the fact that the Polish government wanted (and still wants to) execute such a project despite all that we’ve learned in the last decades about how important natural preserves and wetlands are. Somehow having a highway from Poland to Finland is more important that maintaining an ecosystem when so many have already been destroyed.

This might call for a conversation with the great blogger and journalist in Poland, Mr. the Beatroot. I’m especially interested in just how these plans can be reversed and the opinions of Polish people and other follow citizens on this continent. Building a highway.. how 20th century. Build a high speed rail line, or better yet.. a maglev train… whatever you do, plan for the future with what we’ve learned from the past.

Engagement Over Isolation

by bicyclemark

Well my dear Portugal has taken over the EU presidency, and there is quite a buzz about their inviting Zimbabwe’s elected dictator Robert Mugabe to the upcoming Africa summit.

The UK and associated countries are upset, since there has been an ongoing travel ban on him and members of his government. Portugal is reportedly doing this because the African Union insists that every country be treated equally. But really this comes back to a classic debate in life, politics, you name it.

Isolation or engagement? Do you try to engage in dialogue with those you disagree with or those that have done something terrible? Or do you try to shut them out and find ways to punish or limit their capacity to act. And if you do either of these, what are the risks?

One of the common reference points is always the late Saddam and sanctions against Iraq. Then again there was also Qaddafi in Libya, which turned out quite differently.

At this point, taking into account this travel ban and the tactics adopted by governments critical of Mugabe, there doesn’t seem to be much change in terms of suffering Zimbabweans. He still does as he wishes and uses his office to carry out destructive policies and practices.

Fisting

So maybe this is more than just pressure from the African Union. Maybe it’s time to try something else, including inviting the dictator you don’t like to some meetings; engaging in dialog. After all, he certainly wouldn’t be the only tyrant from Africa attending the meeting, and if you invite him, he has one less excuse during the next speech about how the “whole world wants to destroy him and the country”.