My sister Daphne Wolf studied Burmese music in Yangon. Her music school is organizing relief aid. Daphne wrote this guest blog post:
Small and local aid agencies are best equipped to help the victims of cyclone Nargis because they are already operating on the ground. Donations to these agencies are more effective since big aid organizations are still struggling to access the affected areas.
Local relief groups such as the Music School Gitameit, are providing the most urgently needed first-aid supplies.
For two years I lived in Yangon, studying Burmese traditional music and teaching classical flute at the Gitameit Music Center, a private school founded by the American pianist Kit Young in 2003. I returned to Berlin in December 2007 to finish my masters in Musicology and Southeast Asian Studies.
My friends, former colleagues, and students all tell me that Yangon, the old capital, is widely devastated and that the fertile delta of the Irrawaddy River is still flooded:
Continue reading "Empower the People of Myanmar to Help Themselves"
This is a guest blog post by our long-time reader and commenter Pat Patterson:
The blog Coming Anarchy has a balanced piece concerning the recent proposal by Chancellor Merkel and the CDU to create a German National Security Council that argues, "It is for these reasons that a seemingly innocuous and in fact logical step like creating a national security council has again sparked debate among citizens and politicians alike." And that, "Over the past few years though with the changes in both the domestic and international security situation, debate has been ongoing about whether Germany needs a National Security Council based more on the American model for example."
Something similar was argued by the SPD in 1998 but very little in the way of change was made to the Bundessicherheitsrat (Federal Security Council) other than advising on the domestic state of affairs of the countries that were purchasing arms from Germany. But the current proposal goes much farther and states:
"In order to guarantee coherent and effective interagency work combining domestic and foreign security, a national security council is necessary as a center for political analysis."
But the immediate opposition came from the SPD's Frank Walter-Steinmeier, the German Foreign Minister, mainly because the new proposal was similar to the US's National Security Council and thus, "This cannot be the model for us." (Deutsche Welle)
A longer description of the proposal and the introduction of the idea that this new body would also be not only carrying out the instructions of the Chancellory but advising on the ".national interests" of Germany. The International Herald Tribune also mentions that the creation of this body would essentially bypass the Foreign Ministry which obviously would weaken the SPD presence in the government. As well as a quote from Karl-Heinz Kamp of the NATO college,
The fact that the conservatives decided to do without their coalition partners,.is impressive because it would have been watered down. The basic idea is not bad at all.
London may be eclipsing Wall Street as the world financial capital, and the euro is trouncing the dollar, but Europe has yet to prove the equal of the United States in technological innovation.
Author and engineer Hervé Lebret thinks he knows why. "There is a risk culture that's missing. We don't have an environment to be more ambitious and risk-taking." His book, Start-Up: What We Can Learn from Silicon Valley, argues that Europeans need to recognize the value of risk -- and failure. "In the U.S. it's not that people like failure, but it's seen as a way to learn," he says. "In Europe, if you fail you aren't given a second chance to try again. So it's viewed very differently."
Sounds familar. See "Germany's Innovation Dilemma" on Atlantic Community.
When Nicolas Sarkozy was elected president one year ago today, the US media was full of praise for him and expected a big improvement in transatlantic relations.
Sarkozy's pro-American rhetoric was very much appreciated, because it was a big contrast to Gerhard Schroeder's US critical election campaigns. With Schroeder replaced by Angela Merkel and Chirac now replaced by Sarkozy, many Americans were looking forward to a new era in transatlantic relations led by a younger generation of pro-American leaders in Europe.
I did not buy all this hype, but have been very critical of Sarkozy (and to a lesser extent of Merkel) and concluded in November that we are witnessing Better Transatlantic Relations in Style, but not in Substance. Kyle has been frustrated by Sarkozy as well: Sarkozy Makes Premature, Unnecessary, Familiar Statement on Kosovo.
In the last few months, however, President Sarkozy announced some policy changes that indicate more support for US interests, so perhaps I should reconsider my position on Sarko. Gaelle Fisher has written a very balanced analysis on the question "Has Sarkozy truly improved the state of transatlantic relations and earned his reputation as the most pro-American president France has ever had?" She presents three arguments in favor and three against in a pro & con feature on Atlantic Community: Sarkozy l' Américain? Here is a snippet:
Sarkozy has agreed to increase France's contribution to the war effort in Afghanistan by adding 1500 to 1700 to the existing French contingent of 1600, sending combat troops to the East, and providing military arsenal. Yet the main new element of French military cooperation with the United States is Sarkozy's commitment to reintegrating France into NATO's military wing.
Or is that Trojan horse?
On Sarko's first anniversary in power, the French are very critical of his domestic policies (and his style), but I wonder what Americans think of his foreign policy. Has he met your expectations? Has he repaired the damage in transatlantic relations as expected by many in the US media? Whether you are an American or not, I appreciate your comments here and on Atlantic Community.
Deutsche Bank got a lot of negative press coverage in the United States. David Vickrey, who used to work on corporate finance transactions at Deutsche Bank Securiites and Barclays Capital, has written extensively in his blog Dialog International about the involvement of German banks in the US mortgage crisis. Here are a couple of posts in chronological order (latest on top):
Karma and Bad Times for Deutsche Bank in America (April 27, 2008)
Greed and Fear: US Subprime Crisis Takes Its Toll in Germany (April 9, 2008)
The Subprime Crisis Leads to Mad Mergers in Germany (April 1, 2008)
German Government: Please Sue Deutsche Bank (March 10, 2008)
Deutsche Bank: America's Foreclosure King (January 24, 2008)