ctrp317 European News Values from West to East

Sitting in as far East as geographic Europe goes, questions about where we are and how things here differ from things over there arise. While in Western Europe issues regarding climate change are high on the public agenda, how does that issue fair in the East? On this particular night in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, I sit down with Sergio of Eurotopics.net to hear about what their project is about and how he sees the concerns of Europe, from West to East and everything in between.

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What I Learned in Rostov

Greetings from my last night in Rostov-on-Don, where the N-Ost conference has just about wrapped up, and it has been a great success as far as I can tell. There is plenty to write about in a city that is so seldom heard about outside of Russia, yet has such personality. As its been a busy few days and I must already prepare to leave, I wanted to make a brief list of things I learned in and about Rostov which I thought you might find interesting:

  • Very big Korean population, who have been here for about 50 years, while still maintain their traditions and language, they’re an important part of what makes this city work.
  • Parks. They like their parks. Sometimes its more of a long green tree lined walk way stretching many city blocks and offering a great alternative to walking on streets with traffic.
  • Sometimes your huge truck breaks down in an intersection and its perfectly acceptable to just stand there and everyone will drive around you for hours.
  • Rostov has many religions, Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Armenian, Muslim, Jewish and according to the guy at the Korean cultural assocation- Buddhist.
  • The Bridge over the Don river takes you from Europe to Asia.
  • Don’t count on every street being paved and don’t underestimate how giant potholes can be.
  • People in Rostov don’t speak much in terms of languages besides Russian, but if you’re in need of something they’re more than willing to work with you through pointing, hand signals, and smiles.
  • The Armenian population of Rostov has been here for ages and make up another important part of the civic tapestry.
  • We may be far from Japan but Rostovians love Sushi and manage to put it on the menu at any kind of restaurant.
  • 4 days is not enough to really get to know a Russian city like this, but it does provide enough time to make some great friends.

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N-Ost Russia This Week

A bit too sick to write a proper post or prepare the next podcast today. However I wanted to point out that this wednesday I’m leaving for a 5 day visit to Russia. Specifically to speak at the N-Ost International Media Conference in Rostov-on-Don, which is located in southern Russia, near the Black Sea.

Looking over the program, which is in German, I see that speakers include many Russian bloggers and journalists working in the world of new and old media.  Admittedly I don’t read any Russian blogs although I do read blogs by Russians and blogs by those who happen to be living in Russia. While I’m there I hope to be able to learn about their experiences, concerns, and projects. With any luck you’ll hear about it and perhaps from them directly on the podcast.

My talk, which will be held on Friday morning (and to my knowledge not streamed live) will be on Web 2.0 in Journalism, which means I’ll be talking about today’s web tools for journalists and how they help, hurt, etc.

I’m especially excited as this will be my first ever visit to Russia. While of course everyone thinks of cities like St. Petersberg or Moscow, I’m looking forward to experiencing a city that until recently, I knew nothing about.

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Manufacturing Their Cold War

For almost 2 decades, the military alliance known as NATO has been expanding to include most of Eastern Europe. Originally founded to oppose the Soviet Union and it’s allies, NATO leaders have insisted for the last few years that it is no longer to oppose Russia, but to fight terrorism and increase security. Meanwhile many of the countries which border Russia to the west or were once part of the Soviet Union, have become members. Everyone except for a few, including most significantly – Russia. Still this didn’t stir up much conversation in the West, even if it does make the Russian government very nervous.

Meanwhile there is this very expensive and theoretical project known as missile defense, which this blog has been focusing on ever since it was founded. You remember, the missiles that would be positioned all over the globe in order to protect the United States and so-called allies from Rogue States and terrorist groups who might launch missiles against them. This system would supposedly knock out the other missiles. Tests have long proven either failures or inconclusive, but that hasn’t stopped the huge amounts of funding from the US congress. Meanwhile the among the nation’s who would allow these missiles to be stationed on their soil there are, once again, Eastern European nations that go right up to the Russian border. And yet again, it is nothing against the Russians, the US government tells us, it is merely a coincidence that missiles are installed in such places.

Now we have this pathetic situation in Georgia, which I’ll leave the explanations to more experienced sources out there. But now the threats grow louder and less concealed, the US says don’t do that and lines up with Georgia, for the first time in a long time painting Russia as the aggressor and enemy. – Immediately the issue of who is in NATO comes up, specifically by the very desperate and politically savvy Georgian president. And then, coincidentally, the issue of missile defense is on the front page of the major newspapers.

If you are in the weapons manufacturing business, which includes the people who make missile defense, this is all very convenient. The governments, the media, and the public, are finally falling into step with the type of scenario where you can get EVEN MORE funding for your missiles and maybe cash in as nations very easily slip back into cold war logic, which so many of them have wished to go back to anyway. (the good old days for some)

My more simple point: Pay attention not just to what is happening in Georgia. See the larger picture of who benefits and just what is being set up here.

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