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EPC: Waaaahhhhhhh

Photo: Addox/flickr

Photo: Addox/flickr

In one of the whiniest tirades I’ve read written by anyone over 3 feet tall, the European Publishers Council released the the so-called “Hamburg Declaration on Intellecutal Property Rights” in June.

The temper tantrum Declaration was signed by around 160 publishers and was meant to prompt the European Commission into action, calling on it to improve the “protection of intellectual property on the [i]nternet.”

Some gems from the document:

Numerous providers are using the work of authors, publishers and broadcasters without paying for it. Over the long term, this threatens the production of high-quality content and the existence of independent journalism.

I won’t even get into how this is totally not true. Oh by the way, signatories included folks from the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times Group, Ringier and Axel Springer….all bastions of independent journalism.

There should be no parts of the Internet where laws do not apply.

Oh really?

Legislators and governments at the national and international level should protect more effectively the intellectual creation of value by authors, publishers and broadcasters. Unauthorized use of intellectual property must remain prohibited whatever the means of distribution.

Yikes. I didn’t ask permission to cut and paste. Sorry y’all.

In any case, Google was one of the first to respond to the EPC’s call with a helpful hint: Exclude yourself from Google.

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Labor Unions Learning to Globalize

Swiss newspaper reports the Triumph story / www.tagesanzeiger.ch

Swiss newspaper reports the Triumph story www.tagesanzeiger.ch

On Friday 24 July, lingerie maker Triumph confirmed that it will lay off 3,700 workers in Thailand and the Philippines. Triumph International is headquartered in Switzerland and employs 40,000 people worldwide.

Firing staff is not remarkable, you may think, especially during a global economic downturn. However, if it was not for the Swiss labor union Unia, the Triumph story would probably not have made news at all.

Unia, together with the NGO Berne Declaration (BD), helped to organize protests in Bangkok and Manila. Hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the Swiss embassies and voiced complaints against Triumph.

Decades after companies started to spread their activities across national borders, trade unions have learned the business of globalization. Unions have fought globalization long enough. It seems that they are now employing its forces.

Dear Santa: A Letter to Obama

Letter packed with lists to pass along to Santa, photo: Scott / flickr

Letter packed with lists to pass along to Santa, photo: Scott / flickr

If you could write an open letter to US President Barack Obama, what would you write? The question almost makes you think of something like a wish list to a Santa, who will do his best to fulfill your desires.

The open letter written by 22 Central and Eastern European intellectuals and former leaders made me think about this Christmas tradition. A letter intended for the US president, in which Eastern European children make a wish list and, in order to be convincing, explain how good they have been in the past.

During the last months the media has seen innumerable open letters to Obama. And this is yet another one. It is a doleful and angst-ridden letter, one whose main argument is that the Obama administration is not taking the necessary measures for rebuking “revisionist Russia.”

I first had a reflective look at the senders’ list. Václav Havel and Lech Wałęsa are there, symbols of the people who led the revolutions of 1989. However, beyond all emotions, I realized the word ‘former’ is too prominent on the senders’ list. Valdas Adamkus, former president of the Republic of Lithuania; Martin Butora, former ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the US. The list goes on.

‘Former’ refers to something or someone belonging to a prior time. Even the letter reads ‘former’ to me, with arguments that in the current international context have acquired their dustiness.

The letter’s nostalgia-conjured past does not truly reflect historical realities. “Our nations are deeply indebted to the United States,” the letter argues. “Many of us know firsthand how important your support for our freedom and independence was during the dark Cold War years.”

These words make me think of my Romanian grandfather and how he told me that years after the end of World War II he was looking at the sky, asking himself when would the Americans come. And the Americans never came. So what is Central and Eastern Europe so indebted for? Apart from listening to Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, there was not much of an important support to be felt in the region during the Cold War.
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Pilots vs Zurich Airport

Another case of biting the hand that feeds you:

Here in Switzerland, Aeropers, the Swiss Airlines pilots’ union, is suing Zurich Airport because of aircraft noise.

“The Aircraft noise reduces the value of our office building, which is located in Kloten under the eastern approach corridor”, says Henning Hoffman, the head of Aeropers.



View Larger Map

Since Germany has limited the over flight over its territory to the north, the eastern approach of the airport, which is the global hub for Swiss, faces much more traffic and the buildings underneath it an increased devaluation.

At present, many flat owners in Kloten, the town nearest the airport, have lawsuits pending for monetary compensation. Never mind that:

  • They built and bought their homes 1 kilometer from an airport under an existing – though less frequented – approach corridor and knew it.


  • The home prices have always been lower in the area because of the airport.

The same holds true for Aeropers, whose members produce the same aircraft noise they’re complaining about every day. (The ‘B’ in the map is the Aeroper building).

Real life satire.

ISN Weekly Theme: Urbanization

Tokyo skyline at night, photo: Peter Morgan / flickr

Tokyo skyline at night, photo: Peter Morgan / flickr

Mushrooming megacities, migrational pressures, cultural and political collisions and ecosystems and environments under stress- as humans continue to move into cities, we are faced with a new set of challenges that directly impact both domestic policies and international relations. Cities are becoming the microcosms of life in the 21st century where overcrowding, resource scarceness, poverty and migration define the challenges that no country can afford to ignore.

This week the ISN focuses on urbanization and brings you a wide set of resources to delve deep into this highly consequential and topical issue.

  • The ISN Special Report The Future is Urban examines urbanization from the perspective of migration, societal conflict, and environmental politics. In Migration: Politics of Cultural Conflict , Robert A Beauregard places urbanization in a triumvirate of forces, together with globalization and nationalism, that direct contemporary migration flows and feed into political conflicts. In Urbanization: Environmental Problem or Solution? Leiwen Jiang and Karen Hardee examine the environmental impact of urbanization, with a particular focus on population growth and energy consumption in the urban context.
  • In our Policy Briefs section the ODI’s Opportunity and Exploitation in Urban Labour Markets discusses the relation between economic growth and urban poverty reduction.
  • The UN’s paper titled World Urbanization Prospects, found in our Primary Resources, includes interesting projections for urban and rural populations worldwide.
  • In Events, a Chatham House conference on the Future of Cities will examine how rapid urban growth can be planned, managed and financed.
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