Your Monthly Good News, January 2015

There’s a problem with your everyday media: It is fed and nurtured by bad news, by misery, wars, crises, catastrophes. To make matters worse, journalists seem to think that their only task is to be critical about pretty much everything, leading to a depiction of politics and everyday life as disgraceful and appalling. Therefore most people believe that everything goes down the drain.
 
But hidden in the latter parts of magazines and newspapers, tucked away in nameless afternoon TV shows, you sometimes find news noone prepares you for: There’s more democracies now than there have ever been, you learn. Extreme poverty fell by 500 million people in the last 30 years. These are the rare occasions when good news gets so big that not even your everyday media can keep quiet about it. In our column Your Monthly Good News, we provide you with good news from the corner of the media machine, news that might give you a reason to be as optimistic as we are about the state and future of the world.

Your Monthly Good News, December 2014

There’s a problem with your everyday media: It is fed and nurtured by bad news, by misery, wars, crises, catastrophes. To make matters worse, journalists seem to think that their only task is to be critical about pretty much everything, leading to a depiction of politics and everyday life as disgraceful and appalling. Therefore most people believe that everything goes down the drain.
But hidden in the latter parts of magazines and newspapers, tucked away in nameless afternoon TV shows, you sometimes find news noone prepares you for: There’s more democracies now than there have ever been, you learn. Extreme poverty fell by 500 million people in the last 30 years. These are the rare occasions when good news gets so big that not even your everyday media can keep quiet about it. In our column Your Monthly Good News, we provide you with good news from the corner of the media machine, news that might give you a reason to be as optimistic as we are about the state and future of the world.

This is only the news we have noticed. If you come across something, a report, a short note, whatever, please just send us the link via mail@unserezeit.eu and we’ll include it in our next collection.

December’s Best News

Es gibt eine Nachricht aus dem Dezember, die kaum jemand mitbekommen zu haben scheint: Die Residenzpflicht, die bisher die Bewegungsfreiheit vieler Asylbewerber in Deutschland auf sinnlose und empörende Weise einschränkte, wurde weitgehend abgeschafft. Asylbewerber können nun nach drei Monaten frei in Deutschland reisen. Und das ist nicht alles. In den letzten Monaten wurde die Stellung von Asylbewerbern in Deutschland insgesamt eminent verbessert: Sie dürfen nun schon nach drei (statt wie bisher erst nach neun) Monaten arbeiten und sich bundesweit bewerben; nach (immer noch viel zu langen) 15 Monaten – bisher waren es vier Jahre! – wird ihre Bewerbung gleichberechtigt (d. h. ohne die Prüfung, ob ein deutscher Bewerber vorzuziehen sei) berücksichtigt. Sie bekommen Geld- statt Sachleistungen, und diese werden an das Hartz-IV-Niveau angepasst. Ein nicht geringer Teil der Forderungen, die das Flüchtlingscamp auf dem Oranienplatz erhob, kann damit, ohne dass man die immer noch bestehenden Ungerechtigkeiten kleinreden sollte, als erfüllt gelten. „Your Monthly Good News, December 2014“ weiterlesen

Your Monthly Good News, November 2014

There’s a problem with your everyday media: It is fed and nurtured by bad news, by misery, wars, crises, catastrophes. To make matters worse, journalists seem to think that their only task is to be critical about pretty much everything, leading to a depiction of politics and everyday life as disgraceful and appalling. Therefore most people believe that everything goes down the drain.
But hidden in the latter parts of magazines and newspapers, tucked away in nameless afternoon TV shows, you sometimes find news noone prepares you for: There’s more democracies now than there have ever been, you learn. Extreme poverty fell by 500 million people in the last 30 years. These are the rare occasions when good news gets so big that not even your everyday media can keep quiet about it. In our column Your Monthly Good News, we provide you with good news from the corner of the media machine, news that might give you a reason to be as optimistic as we are about the state and future of the world.

This is only the news we have noticed. If you come across something, a report, a short note, whatever, please just send us the link via mail@unserezeit.eu and we’ll include it in our next collection.

November’s Best News

The best news I have seen this month comes from the small German town of Goslar. Towns like Goslar have generally not really been the seedbed of good news in the past decades: people all over Germany – or indeed, all over the world – are moving to bigger cities, leaving Goslar and places like it depopulated and empty. Flats stand vacant, houses are torn down, economies shrink.

„Your Monthly Good News, November 2014“ weiterlesen

Your Monthly Good News, October 2014

There’s a problem with your everyday media: It is fed and nurtured by bad news, by misery, wars, crises, catastrophes. To make matters worse, journalists seem to think that their only task is to be critical about pretty much everything, leading to a depiction of politics and everyday life as disgraceful and appalling. Therefore most people believe that everything goes down the drain.
But hidden in the latter parts of magazines and newspapers, tucked away in nameless afternoon TV shows, you sometimes find news noone prepares you for: There’s more democracies now than there have ever been, you learn. Extreme poverty fell by 500 million people in the last 30 years. These are the rare occasions when good news gets so big that not even your everyday media can keep quiet about it. In our new column Your Monthly Good News, we provide you with good news from the corner of the media machine, news that might give you a reason to be as optimistic as we are about the state and future of the world.
This is only the news we have noticed. If you come across something, a report, a short note, whatever, please just send us the link via mail@unserezeit.eu and we’ll include it in our next collection.

„Your Monthly Good News, October 2014“ weiterlesen

Have the Eurosceptics peaked?

Last time I wrote an entry in this blog it was about whether the UK should actually have its referendum on EU membership, so it’s only right that I continue this theme and look at the state of Euroscepticism. This will be a short entry and, out of pure laziness, I’m going to take a British perspective too.
Ipsos MORI, a polling company based in the UK, has released a new poll indicating that support for EU membership is the highest it has been for 23 years, and this is despite the gains the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has been making recently. We have similar news from the European Parliament that the European political group, ‚Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy‘ (EFDD), has been struggling to maintain support, collapsing for four days after Latvia’s Iveta Grigule MEP defected from the group causing it to lose its required representation from seven member-states; Polish MEP Robert Iwaszkiewicz from the Congress of the New Right party joined the group on 20 October, restoring its required representation.

„Have the Eurosceptics peaked?“ weiterlesen

Vote but for whom? – Die Qual der Wahl

English below

Da hat man sich als Deutsche_r oder Österreicher_in erst vor wenigen Monaten zu einer möglichst fundierten Wahlentscheidung durchgerungen, schon steht die Europawahl vor der Tür. Diesmal kann man allerdings die Positionen der Bewerber_innen wie auch die relevanten Fragen der Europapolitik noch weniger einschätzen. Woher also soll man wissen, wo man sein Kreuz diesmal zu machen hat?

„Vote but for whom? – Die Qual der Wahl“ weiterlesen

A European public sphere needs a strong European Parliament – and vice versa

This article is the first we publish in two languages. For the German version see below.
Dieser Artikel ist der erste, den wir in zwei Sprachen publizieren. Eine deutsche Version findet sich weiter unten.

Travelling circus coming to an end?
The European Parliament has just decided (Heads up: Brussels‘ officialese), in form of a non-legislative resolution, to seek to alter the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. The parliament, whose location has thus far been decided by the member states, wants to determine its seat on its own. The background for this decision is the fact that the EP is, at the moment, based in three different cities: Luxembourg, Strasbourg and my current home Brussels. This set-up is seen as expensive, arduous, bad for the environment and the reputation, but it is however enshrined in the treaties. The parliament now officially opposes this “compulsory and excessive travelling circus“ as Green deputy Gerald Häfner described it.
This resolution of the European parliament illustrates two things: On the one hand it may show that the parliament is emancipating itself from the other EU-institutions and the member states – with the members deciding matters against the will of the member states‘ governments. On the other hand, the ongoing ineptitude of the EP becomes evident, as it is missing a basic right: To decide on when and where it wants to congregate. Indeed, the parliament has been strengthened by the Treaties of Maastricht in 1992 and Lisbon in 2007 and now has co-legislative powers within the EU. Nevertheless, the EP still does not have the right to initiate legislation and can only confirm the composition of the European Commission, which acts virtually the European government. Furthermore, this parliament has to share legislative authority with the Council of the European Union (aka Council of Ministers), which represents the national governments as opposed to the European citizens.

„A European public sphere needs a strong European Parliament – and vice versa“ weiterlesen

David Simon and the End of the 20th Century Western Welfare Model

We all know the story by now, it goes like this: The world was good, back then, in the 1950s and 1960s. We had a nation state that cared for us, one that was actually capable of doing things: it built roads, provided decent schools and education, and, most importantly, it lessened poverty and social inequality. Why couldn’t it just stay that way forever? Why on earth did Milton Friedman, Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan have to come and clatter around our golden age of welfare paradise? Because so they did, around 1980, when Milton broadcast his famous, free-market advocating TV series Free to Choose, when Ronald gave speeches about choice and opportunity and when Maggie started her war on unions and state-owned businesses. Why couldn’t they just leave us alone?
As you may have noticed, I am slightly sceptical about that story. To me, it seems too simple, too conservative, and too centered on the development in the West, especially the US. This is not to say that it is utterly wrong, but rather that it is only a tiny shred of a much bigger story that is much more complicated and harder to grasp in all of it’s facets. I will hopefully explore this in a longer essay in the near future. However, what concerns me here is a new and very impressive piece by David Simon in The Observer. David Simon is the creator of The Wire, the best TV series of all times (even better, one might claim, than Friedman’s Free to Choose). As you know if you’ve watched it, it is about the decay of an American city, the great gap that divides American society, and the drug trade as a war on America’s underclass. If you haven’t watched it, just do it. Now. Nothing else matters. You can come back to this text once you’ve finished all of the incredibly good five seasons and 60 episodes of the show.