Tag Archives: France

Kosmolinks #12

The “Kosmolinks” are finally back, and with the help of diigo I will try to make it a weekly feature! You can also watch and navigate through a slide show of all live pages of “Kosmolinks”: Just click here to start the “WebSlides”!

The new Eiffel Tower!?

I was quite surprised when I came across the plans to build an extension on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The aim is obvious: To enlarge the capacity for the visitor platform at the top level! There are some more pictures on the website of the architects. It is not quite clear whether this is the final and approved design of the extension. But if you know more about this project feel free to leave a comment! I was also not aware of any public discussion about this rather significant change of one of the most known European landmarks! Has there been any public discourse on this issue in France?

I must admit I don’t like the new extension. It somewhat changes and thus destroys the whole structure and architectural concept of the original tower design. What is your opinion?

http://www.serero.com/projects/eiffel/text/eiffel_notes_en.htm

Update: The architects posted a clarification on their website:  “Our project for a the temporary extension of the Eiffel tower is an unsolicited proposal to the Eiffel Tower management company. We are confirming that the SETE did not organized a competition on this topic, in contrary with what was announced in the press.” (read more here)

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Total Denial

Total Denial is an amazing documentary about an historic lawsuit connected with the UNOCAL/TOTAL oil pipeline in Burma. One of the few screenings of the film took place in Brussels on Friday (organised by Avocats Sans Frontières), check out the official movie page here for more dates and details:

Total Denial is the story of a historic lawsuit: Fifteen villagers from the jungles of Burma bringing suit against a giant oil corporation for human-rights abuses, in U.S. courts. After ten years of fierce legal battles, the impossible victory.”

At the same time the outcome of the lawsuit will change the legal framework for corporations worldwide. For the first time a company was sued for human rights violations committed overseas. Even though this case was possible in the US under the Alien Torts Claim Act (a law introduced in 1789!) similar cases are pending in Europe (for example in France and Belgium). Here is the trailer:

After the movie the director Milena Kaneva shared her thoughts about the implications of the movie with the audience which was indeed an inspiring and very interesting experience. However, the movie is still in need for some additional funding and support (distribution, DVD production…) … so if you have a some spare money or if you know a potential funding institution go to the sponsorship section of the official homepage… (Normally I do not use this blog for fundraising purposes but this is an exception: this documentary is definitely worth it!)

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Tower of Babel

Every now and then a little language war breaks out in the EU institutions. Spain lobbies for Spanish to become one of the official working languages (at the moment: English, French and German) because it is one of most spoken languages worldwide. Germany (sometimes together with Austria) claims that German became more popular after the EU Enlargement. Italy, a big and proud country also wants its language to be considered….Usually not much is happening after attempts like that. And normally these lobbying activities are also quite diplomatic…..

But now the French really exaggerated it. Following a translation mistake a while ago, it seems that Maurice Druon (a member of the Academie Francaise who was also awarded with a K.B.E!) is heading an emergency task force to save French as the universal language in the EU (which is to a certain extent English). And his arguments are really convincing:

“The Italian language is the language of song, German is good for philosophy and English for poetry, French is best at precision, it has a rigour to it. It is the safest language for legal purposes.” He argued that French should be “the authoritative” language as it is both related to Latin – in which Roman law was written – as well as the language of the Napoleonic code.

Obviously, there is quite an extensive list of songs, poetry, philosophy and literature written in all languages and it is really disgrace if such an educated man like Mr. Druon makes such a simplistic statement. Indeed, French is routed in Latin but this is also true for Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian. And besides Roman law and the Napoleonic code we have (fortunately) other legal traditions as well….

Why not a referendum? Look at the polls!

OK, I know this is not very ‘democratic’ but I am happy that someone opened up the debate on the limits of participatory democracy. Lately, the idea of holding a referendum is often presented as THE one and only democratic instrument that we have (especially by Madame Royal). Strangely enough, only relating to EU issues, never because of domestic policies. Anyway,  after the failed referenda on the EU constitutional treaty in France and the Netherlands, we could clearly see in what kind of mess you can run with holding a referendum with uninformed people that lost trust in their national politicians.  (hope this is enough provocation for some mean comments!)

So, here is some food for thought from Michel Godet via eurotopics:

If we are not careful, participatory democracy may consecrate the triumph of self-interest in the short-term (the only unfair inequalities are those that we do not benefit from!) at the expense of long-term collective interest. The courageous decisions to be taken regarding the future are rarely consensual and if forecasting needs be participatory, the strategy that it inspires is up to the elected members of Parliament. It is up to them to demonstrate will power and courage in order to avoid participatory demagogy.

Here the link to the original article in French: Démocratie ou démagogie?