Calling the Arctic

During my occasional working days here in Brussels, I have lots of time on busses and trains to think about how much I miss my bike and the topics of my next podcasts.

For the next few months I will be frequently touching upon the topic of the Arctic and the race to exploit its resources, re-claim property rights, and the ongoing accelerating process of global warming effecting the region (and in turn, the world).

While mainstream media has dedicated the occasional article on this topic, they focus mostly on the horserace or “competition” between Russia, Canada, US, and Denmark (no mentions of Norway lately). Some tacit attention is given to the political conflict and the use of “submarines” by Russia to plant an underground flag or something to that effect.

What lacks is the real details that effect people’s lives. The information regarding exactly what these nations are doing and plan to do in the name of political power, economics, and what some call progress. They leave out the communities that live in and around the arctic, how they are being effected by all these activities. Rising sea level, melting of the ice caps, increased ship traffic.. these things all come with a price. And then take that to a global level, because the arctic is such an important place for everyone that exists on this planet.. and our collective future.

Some scientific magazines and organizations are indeed dedicating time and energy to bring this information to the public. But this still leaves a huge segment of the global population in the dark, those who continue to look to the media giants for knowledge about the world around them, including the activity of their government in far off places. So long as this disfunctional information relationship continues, it remains much too easy for the powerful governments to mount an aggressive campaign to pick apart the arctic no matter what the cost.

As a podcaster, journalist, and concerned world citizen, these next few months will be dedicated to more in-depth research on the arctic crisis. More interviews with people living and breathing the situation, and with the desire to share their knowledge and experiences with a curious and concerned audience.

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International Effort in Greece

Last week I talked about the rainbow families rescue work that Rob was involved in throughout the United States. Today I thought of him as I listened to RFI reporting about how extremely terrible the forest fires in Greece have now become. Photos of the earth published by NASA show just how huge the fires have gotten as the smoke is visible from space.

Amidst all this tragedy and the struggle to combat the fires, I get a strange sort of positive feeling from listening to the news reports. This is because I listen closely to the part about Firefighters coming from all over the world to battle the fires. France sends several hundred firefighters. Spain, Germany, and Italy also send firefighters who specialize in these types of fires. My dear Portugal, which struggles year after year with similar fires, sends re-enforcements. Canada, the United States, Russia, and Israel .. all send firefighters, water dropping planes, and equipment. Even Romania sends an elite unit of firefighters to take part in the battle to control the fires.

Photo from Flickr

Imagine being there… being one of the firefighters standing amongst all those nationalities.. all those languages.. the different uniforms.. all with one common goal. So often in history the story is about some conflict or invasion where a few countries get together to kill another country’s people, or to defend people from being killed by killing other people… variations on that theme. Yet here we get to see what is possible.. the kind of world that CAN exist when nations put all the other issues aside and focus on one – helping each other.

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Angela Over There, Russia in Here

I’m standing across the street from the EU parliament looking through my packet of information for this conference and suddenly there’s a big to-do across the street. Several of the charming conference organizer ladies start looking towards the main doors in excitement. And there… walking out the door and kissing some people goodbye is the German Prime Minister. Exciting? Well… No. Amusing? Perhaps.

You’d think being here wandering the halls of the European Union, I would be thinking about the big questions like.. what is going to happen with this new treaty business, or what the hell is going on with corrupt Romania and Bulgaria.. but my mind is elsewhere.

Jazz

This because as I walk around, my headphones are on, and I’m listening to a very inspiring and exciting podcast. The type of podcast I too would like to do more of.. emulate in many ways.. On The Media’s Brooke Gladstone reporting from Russia.

You really have to listen to this one… to hear the old people and young people talking to Brooke. They refer to how things used to be and how things are, debate if theyre living in a police state or if it is just a phase. They argue about what freedom they have or what freedom they lack. Even the great Garry Kasparov is in there… and I must say, his words struck a chord with me.

At some point a man who identifies himself as a communist who has no desire to return to the past starts to talk about how the west wrongly pushes their values on Russia. He goes on and on about the terrible things Western nations have done in Iraq and all the unnecessary death. He is angry, yet calm; with a very interesting and wise outlook on his country and the world outside. As I rounded the corner towards the Parliament cafeteria, I turned off my mp3 player, and looked at the over 200 young journalists in ahead of me… but my mind was still on Russia.. and the great statements in that podcast.

Brooke.. you are my new heroine.

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bm210 The Costs of Missile Defense

They call it a missile defense system and tell the public it will protect them from attacks by rogue nations. Yet after hundreds of billions of dollars in military contracts, a plethora of failed tests, and a long list of international disagreements, missile defense is still being developed without much public discussion.

My guests today, Victoria Samson, of the Center for Defense Information, and Jane Vaynman of the blog Armscontrolwonk.com , help to lay out the issue of the anti missile system and to remind us of the details that many governments would like for us to ignore.

We Discuss:
– What is Missile Defense
– How is it funded
– When did it begin, how
– Where is it in the world, for who
– Who are the perceived threats
– Tests and failures
– The politics and political game revolving around the system
– The Russian point of view
– A new Cold War or just a bad time for relations with Russia
– Who Benefits?
– Where and who can we look to for info and help

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