Letter from Thessaloniki ‘Every Arab refugee in the world knows this song’

Composed by a refugee who fled Syria, ‘Safar na Ala Europa’ tells a common story. One afternoon in August, a group of 12 schoolchildren gathered for a music lesson in a converted shipping container in an abandoned paper-towel factory on the outskirts of Thessaloniki, Greece. Most were from Syria. The girls sat on one side of the narrow aisle running down the length of the classroom, the boys on the other. They ranged in age from about six to 13. They took turns coming up to the front of the…

Germany Wants Facebook To Pay For Fake News

  Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has shied away from aggressively regulating the spate of fake news on his network, putting more emphasis on getting users to flag it instead. Now the German government has its own idea for reining in Facebook’s fake news problem, by making it pay 500,000 euros ($522,000) per fake news post. The German government is planning a law that will levy fines on Facebook, and it comes amid fears that viral fake news stories could affect national elections there in 2017. “If after the relevant checks Facebook does not immediately, within 24 hours, delete the offending…

EU’s ‘North of Africa Window’: Prioritizing Migration and Stabilization

Last week the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa adopted a €37 million package to increase the protection of migrants and boost effective migration management in North Africa. The package specifically targets Libya, Tunisia and Morocco. In Libya, this new EU funding will help protect and assist the most vulnerable migrants, such as the persons rescued at sea and disembarked in Libya, which will also include help for their host communities. In Tunisia, the program will address the root causes of migration by strengthening the creation of economic opportunities and,…

‘Every migrant is a human being with human rights,’ says UN chief on International Day

Despite appearances and media spin, “migration does not have to be chaotic or seem like an invasion,” and as yet another turbulent year for millions of people on the move comes to an end, the United Nations is marking International Migrants Day with a worldwide call for more cooperation and a resolute rejection of intolerance and policies driven by xenophobic rhetoric. “We have seen the continued devastating effect of armed conflict on civilian populations […], witnessed the unacceptable loss of thousands of lives of people in transit in the Mediterranean…

Less than 3% of five million Syrian refugees resettled in rich countries

Less than three per cent of the nearly five million refugees living in Syria’s neighbouring states have been resettled in rich countries according to a new report published yesterday by Oxfam. Instead a lack of political will and a rise in xenophobia have driven a backlash against refugees in many countries. Oxfam reviewed the resettlement policies of eight countries – Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States – and concluded that in some countries a lengthy process, security screening, and an increasingly hostile political…

Southern Mediterranean countries benefit from common legal area with Europe as they push for reform

Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan are all countries participating in an initiative, implemented jointly by the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Union (EU), aiming to establish a common legal area between the two shores of the Mediterranean. This in turn will help them implement European standards, when dealing with problems, such as human trafficking, violence against women or cyber crime and corruption, according to Verena Taylor, the CoE Director for Development Cooperation. Both organizations are working together to implement the “South Programme II”, aiming to help countries in the…

Sweden missing trash

Recycling and renewable energy are big in Sweden. More than 99% of household waste was reportedly recycled last year and half of the country’s electricity and heating coming from renewable energy. The director of communications for the Swedish Waste Management’s recycling association, Anna-Carin Gripwall was quoted as saying: “In the southern part of Europe they don’t make use of the heating from the waste, it just goes out the chimney. Here we use it as a substitute for fossil fuel.” According to the Interesting Engineering site, the term “recycling” in Sweden also…

The World’s Most Powerful People 2016 (Forbes)

There are nearly 7.4 billion humans on planet Earth, but these 74 men and women make the world turn. Forbes’ annual ranking of the World’s Most Powerful People identifies one person out of every 100 million whose actions mean the most. To compile the list, we considered hundreds of candidates from various walks of life all around the globe, and measured their power along four dimensions. First, we asked whether the candidate has power over lots of people. Pope Francis, ranked #5, is the spiritual leader of more than a…

The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein in a new book

‘You are going to find it is not so easy to govern Iraq” According to daily Mail , the ex-CIA analyst John Nixon, the first US interrogator to get his hands on Saddam Hussein, told the story of Hussein’s first moments in capture in the book ‘Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein,’ slated for release on December 27. Fresh off his capture, Hussein remained arrogant, perhaps not yet realizing he was done, said Nixon. He stared me down with ‘such murderous’ loathing, it was ‘frightening even though he…

Christians in U.S. Are Less Educated Than Religious Minorities, Report Says

Religious minorities in the United States are far more likely to have attended college or a vocational school than members of the Christian majority, according to a review of census and survey data from 151 countries released on Tuesday that found wide gaps in education among followers of the world’s major religions. The review was based on data from 2010 and was conducted by the Pew Research Center, which also found an education gap between men and women within religious groups. The researchers said the educational differences among the faiths…