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May 2011


Volume 2 | Edition 9

Frankfurt Globe The Royal Wedding

Prince William & Catherine Middleton

Also Inside: - The Death of Osama Bin Laden - In Retrospective: Chernobyl - The Interview: Renate Lingor

Members of D Squadron on patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan Photo: Sergeant Alison Baskerville RLC/MoD via Getty Images

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Notes on a Royal Wedding Our correspondents’ thoughts on the Royal Wedding and the two billion people watching with raised expectations. Osama Bin Laden - Game Over After a decade of searching, U.S. Troops locate and kill the al-Qaeda founder and 9/11 mastermind. Budgeting a Compromise The ticking time bomb of debt is looming as a major threat to America’s economy. France: Newly found Liberal Militarism Across the Atlantic, Tucker Jones believes that the French military doesn’t get the credit it deserves. In Retrospective: Chernobyl Twenty-five year’s on, fear, uncertainty and statistics remain the Political Weapons of the 21st Century. The Health Effects of Radiation An ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan has woken up the world to the dangers nuclear power brings. A Stony Path Does the concept of democracy work at all in West Africa? Any answer will follow a stony path. Liberia: Forgotten Chaos When the talk reaches poverty, the talk reaches Africa but from there on, many are simply forgotten. The Rise of the Right-Wing With many seeking asylum and a feeling of economic insecurity arising, many voters shift rightward. Time for Action Albert Reymann believes that it will be the greedy capitalists who end up saving the Planet. The Interview: Renate Lingor The retired member of the German Women’s football team is now tasked with the FIFA World Cup.


Frankfurt Globe Editor in Chief Christopher Sladdin Editor of Photography Johannes Pigge Chief Correspondent Albert Reymann Entertainment Correspondent Liz Turner Health Correspondent Hannah Raval International Correspondents Asmo Esser (Germany) Tucker Jones (United States) Political Correspondents David-Paul Hotze Gordon Armstrong Science Correspondent Clemens Pilgram VP of Corporate Finances Clemens Pilgram VP Distribution & HR Max Zimmer Subscription Sales Nicholas Fruneaux The Frankfurt Globe is a monthly news-

analysis magazine published by high-school and college students.

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Cover Photo: Mario Testino; Photo: Hugo Burnand/St James’s Palace

Images and other graphics taken from Flickr are used in The Frankfurt Globe under a Creative Commons Attribution, Attribution Share Alike or Attribution No Derivatives license and are provided

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Letter from the Editor

There have been many occasions that I’ve been asked why The Frankfurt Globe lacks a steady stream of British content; “you focus so much on America but never on England, why?” is often the line. So, bowing to demand and being a Brit myself, I’ve taken the liberty of writing on the most profilic British topic in recent months, the Royal Wedding. Whether or not the topic suits everyone’s taste is up for debate - it would appear that more and more Brits as well as the citizens of other Commonwealth countries believe the United Kingdom would be better off without the monarchy - but you have something if you’re interested. To accompany the Royal Wedding is a topic of quite different nature - a moment of national pride for Americans and those who have been fighting in the war against terror - the death of Osama Bin Laden, the 9/11 mastermind.

Photo: Johannes Pigge/The Frankfurt Globe

Although such events have dominated the media in the past month, protests continue in Libya with the help of the allied forces, we’re taking a look back at the Chernobyl nuclear accident after twenty-five years and we are continuing our series on sustainable development. Also on the agenda for this month’s edition is the beginning of our coverage of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup which is to be held in Germany - Renate Lingor, a former member of the German team, gave us an exclusive interview. I am always proud and thankful of the dedication that my team put into putting together an edition but this has become even clearer in producing this edition. Produced during the Easter holidays with our team scattered across holiday destinations around the world, this edition took both family time and studying time away from all our staff but we do it out of our pride in this magazine. Now that this edition has been sent to our printers who have produced what you are now reading, we will turn our attention back to our families and studying although you and I both know that it won’t take very long until we are all back in the office, working on a fantastic issue for next month!

Christopher Sladdin Editor in Chief

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A Royal W

Notes from the wedding that some hope will By Christop

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l change the way we perceive the monarchy. pher Sladdin

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Queen Elizabeth II more than half a century ago the British monarchy has been plagued with a series of failed first marriages - not the best of examples that can be set by the head of the Church of England’s family. Last month however, we may have witnessed the beginning of a royal marriage which has the potential to get the monarchy’s marital record back on the right track. Since announcing their engagement last November, Prince William and Catherine (Kate) Middleton chose to shroud much of the ceremonial planning in secrecy, opting for a more intimate ceremony at Westminster Abby - or as intimate as is possible for a royal occasion when the country got an extra bank holiday to celebrate with an estimated two billion people watching - in the presence of friends, family, politicians and foreign dignitaries. Despite the intimacy of the ceremony however, William and Kate’s wedding was a wedding of feats. Of the many different feats recognized by the media, the most notable must be that Kate Middleton is the first commoner to marry directly into the line of succession - Prince William being second in line to the throne behind his father, the Prince of Wales. The wedding day also saw the Queen gift the Dukedom of Cambridge to Prince William, a Royal tradition. Around one million people gathered along the Mall, by the Cenotaph and outside Westminster Abbey, many claiming they were hoping to catch a glimpse of Kate Middleton’s dress en-route to the service. Amidst the crowds were Brits, Australians and Canadians - all members of the Commonwealth - but many Americans were also in attendance. In recent years, Americans have often referred to Queen Elizabeth as ‘the Queen’ rather than ‘the Queen of England,’ a change that reflects many Americans’ interest in the British Royal Family. Elsewhere thousands of street parties were organized around the Commonwealth to celebrate the wedding and the additional bank holiday given by the Prime Minister, David Cameron. Speaking with the BBC in advance of ince the coronation of

Ambassador for the UK in the light of the protests in the Middle East. Despite the ceremonies having been organized by Buckingham Palace and Clarence House staff, many officials commented on how the Prince and Ms. Middleton were determined to make it their own day - actively participating in the planning for their quintessentially British ceremony. As Mr. Middleton walked his

“They have a great sense of duty, but also a sense of fun.”

- David Cameron, Prime Minister

Title Photo: Sergeant Dan Harmer RLC/MOD; Photo: Hugo Burnand/St James’s Palace

the ceremony, the Prime Minister described the couple as having “a great sense of duty, but also a sense of fun.” Although millions joined in with the celebrations around Britain - with an estimated two and a half billion others watching on television and online around the world -, many saw the Royal Wedding as just another royal occasion to ignore, as an ever increasing percentage of the population, both in Britain and abroad, believe that a republic would be more suitable for the nation. The Duke of York - to single out one of many members of the royal family - has come under heavy fire in the last year for incidents related to his failed marriage with Sarah Ferguson - who was caught trying to sell access to her ex-husband by a News of the World reporter last year - and for his actions as a Special Trade

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daughter down the aisle to the sound of Parry’s I Was Glad (one of many traditionally British wedding anthems sung during the ceremony), Westminster Abbey could have been mistaken for looking like a location for the children’s story, Cinderella. Lining the aisle stood six twenty-foot English maple trees (among many other plants sourced from the gardens at royal palaces), lining the altar were placed specially refurbished religious artefacts and to complete the Cinderella-style surroundings were the many female guests wearing a variety of rather abstract hats - perhaps most notably those of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York - the cousins of Prince William and daughters of the Duke of York and Sarah Furguson. Following the intense speculation surrounding the bride’s dress in

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the months preceding the wedding, one couldn’t help but notice that, on the day, the dress, which was designed by Sarah Burton (successor to the late-Alexander McQueen), went almost unnoticed amongst the fashion experts’ hype surrounding other guests. Whether or not this is a compliment to its design is perhaps not for my judgement. Following the ceremony in Westminster Abbey, the couple travelled by open-top coach to Buckingham Palace where the Queen held a reception for 600 - including dignitaries, other royal families and the closest family and friends of the couple - during which the couple appeared on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. The balcony appearance - which has become a tradition since the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana - saw the

palace gates and the Mall crowded by thousands hoping to get a view at one of the couple’s two public kisses. Following the reception, the couple made one final but unexpected appearance to those lining the Mall in Prince Charles’ Aston Martin. Prince William took the driving seat for the few hundred meters between the palace and the couple’s official London residence, Clarence House, where the couple prepared for a dinner hosted by Prince Charles for 300 of the couple’s best friends and family, who are reported to have danced well into the night (some until 3am). Jokingly, Prince Harry is said to have offered bacon and eggs to those who remained at dawn (although I doubt that the statement was part of his best man’s speech). Now that the organized chaos of the biggest wedding since the Duke of York’s failed marriage in 1986 is over, Prince William would be expected to acquaint his wife, now the Duchess of Cambridge, with royal responsibilities. However, in repeated statements to the press, Clarence House has made it clear that the couple are to enjoy the first weeks of marriage living together in their rented Farmhouse in Angelsey, Wales, where Prince William works as an RAF Search and Rescue pilot. Their honeymoon to an unspecified island in the Seychelles managed to avoid the attention of the world’s paparazzi and England’s future King and his wife have stepped out of the British spotlight once again with no clear ambition to return to it for a few months. The couple will, however travel to Canada and the United States at the end of next month on their first state visits. Although the newlyweds may be out of the spotlight, Kate’s younger sister, Pippa Middleton, has not yet managed to escape despite returning to normal family life at her parent’s house in Buckleburry, a town around an hour from central London. She could, perhaps be described as the final element to Kate’s Cinderella-type wedding, having floated down the isle behind her sister, her arms tied to the floor by two of the couple’s bridesmaids. Pippa, or Philippa Middleton

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the throne to Prince Charles, her son and William’s father. Today, the usual crowd of tourists is mill around the gates of Buckinham Palace, watching the change of the guard and hoping to catch a glimpse of someone they may recognize (they may be better off checking the back entrances as it isn’t a state event) and life has returned to normal for the British workforce who have enjoyed the luxuries of being able to take an eleven day holiday with just three days of leave. Expectations are low, the media frenzy has been silenced and the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge can try to proceed with life like those living around them. An intimate wedding was challenging but that can’t be so difficult. The only expectations that remain fall on the government and BBC, or perhaps on WikiLeaks, to reveal the full price of the wedding including se-

curity costs and the percentage of the television license fee that was spent on the BBC’s - and hundreds of other broadcasters’ - coverage of the event. Whatever the cost, however, those in favour of the monarchy (believed to be about seventy per cent of the population) took the day in their stride, making it evident that the monarchy is not about to fall on its knees. Whoever sits on the throne in future, whether it be Prince Charles, Prince William or even his future son or daughter, is likely to be supported by the public in his or her duties as figure head of the nation - representing the Commonwealth, supporting hundreds of British charities and bringing the country together. The country now has its fingers crossed that Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are the couple who will set the record straight again. «

Photo: POA(Phot) Mez Merrill/MOD via Getty Images

as she is otherwise known, is known to be good friends with Prince Harry. Although Prince Harry is known to be in a relationship with Chelsy Davy, rumors were started following the wedding ceremony where they were frequently seen together. Many, especially those with imaginations running wild, of whom there seem to be many, consider Pippa Middleton to be one of the most eligible women around. Some thought it sensible, however, to point out that, amidst the hype surrounding the couple, for the mean time they may still be some way off their official duties that will one day come. Seated opposite the Middletons were the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Queen Elizabeth II, who became the second longest serving monarch (Queen Victoria served an additional four years) last week, has made it clear that she will not abdicate

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Kate Middleton

Enter the Commoner BY CLEMENS PILGRAM



„Muggle“. „Half-blood“. Due to the popularity of J.K. Rowling’s „Harry Potter“ series, the concept of blood purity has once again become something normal people are familiar with. Just a few decades ago, it wasn’t wizards but noble families who were concerned about keeping their bloodlines clean from commoner ancestry. In many cases, this meant royals had to marry their second or even first cousins, just for the sake of marrying another royal. For the majority of Europe’s history, saying the continent was ruled by a single widespread family marrying only within its own ranks is not a farfetched claim. From a medical and biological perspective, inbreeding through intermarriage is pretty much the worst thing one could possibly do to the genes of a family. In many cases, rare and potentially harmful recessive genetic disorders become enriched due to the lack of variety in the gene pool. One might of course argue that mutations and deformations are more visible on royals due to their increased exposure to the public, but in reality, hereditary diseases are far more common than average in blue-blooded families. Haemophilia, also known as “the royal disease”, is the most well known example. Although Queen Victoria, often called the “grandmother of Europe” as sixteen of her fortytwo grandchildren married into noble families all over the continent, didn’t suffer from the deadly mutation herself, which hinders blood from clotting, many of her descendents did - most prominently Tsarevich Alexei Nicolaevich, son of the last Emporer of Russia and great-grandson of Victoria. Charles II, the last Habsburg King

of Spain who suffered a much greater genetic burden: Partly due to the fact that his ancestors had not married outside of the family for four generations and because parents were uncle and niece, his mental and physical abilities were severely limited – legend has it that he was unable to chew his own food. Of course, not all royals are walking examples of the dangers of inbreeding. Still, the question arises why taking the risk of having such genetic defects seemed so attractive for centuries. First of all, the rich and powerful families that ruled over all of Europe were very concerned about keeping their money and influence within their own ranks, trying not to introduce too many newcomers into the nobility and thus effectively limiting the number of people the wealth was spread over. Secondly, one didn’t know better – genetics as we know them today were not discovered until the Austrian Monk Gregor Mendel did experiments on plant hybridisation in the 1850s and 1860s. Thirdly and most importantly, the gap between the different social classes was by far a lager one in the past – a Prince second in line to the throne becoming involved with a young female commoner wasn’t just unheard of, it just would not have happened under normal circumstances as the two would have lived in more or less completely secluded worlds of their own. Then again, European royal genetics were always harmless compared to ancient Egypt, where a pharaoh marrying his sister or half-sister was the norm. Throughout the last century, the British Royal family could be considered “pure-blooded” nobility, with all males in direct succession to the throne marrying women of noble

descent. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, is the son of Danish royals and Prince Charles, Philip’s son and father of Prince William can trace himself back to Queen Victoria on both sides of his ancestry. William on the other hand has taken a completely new step by choosing Kate Middleton, now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, someone who can truly be classified as a commoner for his wife. Of course one might note the Middletons are not the most “average Joe” type commoners, as not many families run their own £30 million private company, but alone the fact that none of them carried any titles like “Prince” or “Duke” in their name makes the recent wedding a memorable moment in British history. In other countries, this is a step that has already been taken long ago. Prince Akihito of Japan, now Emperor, married Michiko Shoda in 1959 after ruling out more than 800 blueblooded women deemed more suitable for the role of the future Empress of Japan by the Imperial Household Agency, thus breaking a whole number of conventions and symbolizing a new democratic and libertarian Japan. Does the recent royal wedding mean an end to the whole concept of nobility and pure blood and can it be seen as a turning point for the nation? Probably not. While not an aristocrat, Kate Middleton was not as revolutionary a choice of wife as she could have been – William could also have chosen an immigrant or someone from the working class, had the royal family really intended to make a point. In any case, his choice does reflect a reform in thinking – while not a game-changer, a marriage out of love proves the royals have arrived in the 21st Century. «

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After a decade of searching, U.S. Troops locate and kill the al-Qaeda founder and 9/11 mastermind.


1st, 2011 - A day that will be remembered by family and friends of the 9/11 victims as the day justice was done to Osama Bin Laden - the most infamous terrorist of the 21st Century. After ten years on the run, U.S. Navy Seals shot the leader of al-Qaeda in an undercover raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he’d been hiding in a compound less than a kilometer away from a Pakistani military training camp. After the devastating attacks on the twin towers, the then U.S. President George W. Bush proclaimed that he wanted Bin Laden “dead or alive.” Although Bush never saw him captured during his administration, the objective was carried forward by thousands of men and women in uniform deployed to Afghanistan - where it was suspected he was hiding in a cave in ay

the mountains. If anyone has been given the credit for killing Bin Laden however, it is President Obama, who has been praised by many analysts for making the swift decision to finish him on the spot. Although thousands of Americans celebrated their victory - cheering on the streets and in front of their televisions - others have said that it is simply a farce by the president to prepare for the upcoming 2012 Presidential Race. Some are still questioning the validity of President Obama’s statement, wondering if Osama Bin Laden was actually killed. No evidence of his death has yet been brought forward with White House officials stating that no photographs of Osama Bin Laden will be released in order to protect already worsening relations with Pakistan and in order not to give unnecessary offence.

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For many years, Pakistani officials have denied that the al-Qaeda leader had been in hiding in the country, although many governments are now accusing Pakistani security officials of having provided cover for the most wanted man in the world. Talking to FOX News, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf denied claims that the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) were hiding Bin Laden by arguing that they wouldn’t have placed them in such a prominent location- Abbottabad is a popular holiday destination for Pakistani military officials. As The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart pointed out “(Musharraf’s) defense is that the ISI is way too smart to put Bin Laden in such an obvious place, but far too clueless to know he was there.” It seems Pakistan is in dire need of some serious explanation, or even better, a full disclosure. Indeed, there are two mind numbingly predictable battles that will follow in the wake of Bin Laden’s death in two of the most tedious and predictable political arenas: the American and the International scene. In the United States, one can currently observe the desperate attempts of frantic Bush-era officials trying to claw their way out of oblivion and take credit for the entire operation, not that they actually claim this directly, but anyone with a vague knowledge of the last ten years of life on this planet and two brain cells to rub together can figure out the implied meaning. These claims are particularly entertaining when you observe people such as the Oiligarchy (no typo, Google it) puppeteer Dick Cheney further claim on shamelessly unbalanced outlets such as Fox News Channel, that all of this was only possible due to the “enhanced interrogation” techniques, meaning illegal torture of terrorist suspects, in-

stituted by the Bush administration in Guantanamo Bay prison, which were crucial to the final killing of Bin Laden. The reason it is entertaining is that almost every U.S. expert on the matter has declared that the information that led to Bin Laden’s undoing was not only mostly collected by the diligent work of various analysts over a period of several years, but that any information obtained from the tortured inmates could have also been

retrieved more effectively through legal means by a skilled interrogator. Frankly, all this boils down to a few people desperately claiming credit for a success that was only minimally their doing while attempting to justify the illegal, inhumane and utterly redundant practices they implemented while they were in power, not to mention reduce the popularity boost the predictable American electorate will no doubt render unto Obama follow-

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ing the most popular death since Mao Zedong. The international battle mentioned earlier will be fought between the tangled steaming wreck that is the Pakistani governments’ respectability and the United States defending another illegal action to demonstrate that they are still more willing to violate any sort of international law they claim to be protecting rather than give up their ever more redundant, unsus-

Source: U.S. Department of Defense

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tainable and self-glorifying position as policeman of the world. The Pakistani issue is a hopeless case for the country, as they are either incompetent or have been hiding Bin Laden for years, neither of which are desirable facets for a country controlling a nuclear arsenal. I will let our readers decide for themselves which is the more probable explanation for now as we wait for more conclusive evidence. The issue of the United States

trampling on the core framework of the international community which they helped to implement a few decades back is one that is relevant to this case, but actually belongs more to the issue of the Iraq war and Guantanamo Bay. In this case, the President of the United States ordered the death of a single man, the most wanted mass murderer in the world, in a foreign country where many security officials were probably sympathetic to him, almost guaranteeing that if this country were to be informed of the operation, Bin Laden would have inexplicably shifted location at short notice. It was legally the wrong thing to do, but anyone who sincerely believes that this is the first time such a thing has happened in the U.S. is sadly deluded. They should rather be happy that they got the right person for a change, instead of wiretapping their own population. The conclusion to this whole affair is that we just have to wait for it to simmer down and everyone to return to their trenches. There are only three really important outcomes I can see to this incident: Firstly, a dead body at the bottom of the sea with various artificial orifices and a long badly dyed beard. Secondly a boom In the American-flag production and excessive news coverage industries and lastly, perhaps also most importantly, a difficult question: how can one individual have caused the worlds’ most powerful nation to alienate almost every other nation, wage two useless wars of aggression and waste its slowly diminishing resources in a ten year wild goose-chase of unprecedented scale and cost that lead to an entire nation bursting into ecstasy over the death of an insane old man in some far off country? Or the short version: is that really all the United States represents anymore? 

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Budgeting a Compromise BY GORDON ARMSTRONG

The ticking time bomb of debt is looming as a major threat to America’s economy.


Osama Bin Laden’s death, tornadoes streaking across the U.S. and continuing conflict in Libya may have dominated the news, the ticking time bomb of debt is looming as a major threat to America’s economy. America’s budget deficit is at 10% of GDP and the public debt is over 60% of GDP. It is important to distinguish between the terms “deficit” and “debt”. The deficit is the amount of spending that surpasses government revenue whereas debt is the total amount borrowed to finance the deficit. So if a politician claims to have cut the deficit by twenty percent, this still means that the other eighty percent are being added to the government debt. Even reducing the deficit to zero would only mean that the debt levels were stable. Ultimately, a budget surplus is required to work away the debt. Fixing the U.S. budget deficit is an enormous task, as can be seen in the budget that Obama proposed for 2011 which would result in a $1.6 trillion deficit. During the fierce debate between Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, and Democrats, who have a majority in the Senate, over the magnitude and areas affected by cuts, a series of deadlines loomed ominously. Failure to meet these could have resulted in a government shutdown. The 2011 budget, due months ago, was delayed by a series of “continuing resolution” as politicians debated the scope of cuts. In this way, the government operated on a basis of hile news of

a few weeks at a time and last minute deals when the extensions were set to expire. This gave politicians time to reach a compromise, but instead they squandered their time fighting over small cuts in politically charged areas. Meanwhile the other critical decision is that the debt ceiling for the U.S. government must be raised. The debt ceiling is a set maximum on the government debt, and any changes to it must be approved by Congress. Some Republicans vowed to vote against any increase in the debt ceiling (risking a government shutdown) unless much larger cuts were agreed upon. Even though the situation is dire, a solution is very difficult to achieve. The Republicans want to reduce the deficit using spending cuts only, cuts that often affected programs cherished by the Democrats. The Democrats meanwhile want to defend a social safety net for the poor and middle class using savage cuts and remaining open to tax increases, often for the wealthy. Initially, both sides ignored the spending that makes up the majority of the budget when considering their cuts. A graphic by the New York Times of President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget detailed how much money is allocated to various departments in the budget proposal. It is interesting to look at the relative amounts of spending that go into different areas such as discretionary versus non-discretionary spending. “Discretionary spending” refers to spending that must be authorized by congress each year and thus it is the easiest target for

spending cuts. When defense spending is excluded however (Republicans are generally unwilling to cut defense spending), discretionary spending only makes up around 17% of the budget. Clearly, the budget cannot be balanced by cutting away at only 17% of it while ignoring the other areas. The largest (and growing) area of government spending is on entitlements. This includes social security (a government pension system), Medicare (healthcare for the elderly) and Medicaid (healthcare for the poor). The bad news is that these programs will require more money in coming years as the baby boomers age and

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healthcare costs continue to rise rapidly. Unfortunately, it is unpopular to propose cuts to these programs as many Americans benefit from them. Both parties had originally debated about cutting other parts of the budget. Now however, many politicians have come to realize that the cost of entitlements programs must be contained in order to get the mid-term deficit under control. President Obama has proposed several measures to cut entitlement spending and Republicans have also proposed (deeper) cuts. In sticking with their principals however, the majority of Democrats have been re-

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luctant to accept harsh cuts to social programs, fearing the damage it will do to the poor. It is certainly necessary to cut spending heavily in many areas, including entitlements, in order to reduce the deficit; however, a good deficit reduction plan should also include tax increases. Understandably, these can be very unpopular, and the Republicans are adamantly opposed to any tax increases, including the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. With Republicans opposing tax increases and the Democrats opposing welfare cuts, and each party controlling one of the chambers of Con-

gress; the stage is set for deadlock unless a compromise can be reached. A deadlock could mean a government shutdown, or the inability to meet certain debt obligations. The danger of inaction was exemplified in the lowering of America’s credit rating from AAA to a negative outlook by the rating agency Standard & Poor’s based on the lack of a credible plan to reduce the deficit. Obama and the leaders of the parties have acknowledged the need to reach a compromise and have submitted several proposals to bring the deficit back to a manageable level; however, the details, such as the scope

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President Barack Obama “Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful. Programs people rely on will be cut back. Needed infrastructure projects will be delayed. And I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances.”

Speaker John Boehner, Republican “After difficult negotiations with Washington Democrats, we ended up with a bill that halts out of control spending and begins to move us back in the right direction.

Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader “Republicans believe the sacrifice should fall mainly on seniors and the middle class, while millionaires and big corporations get more tax breaks. “

Congressman Paul Ryan, Republican “I applaud the leadership of Speaker Boehner in securing tens of billions of dollars in spending cuts, forcing the President and his party’s leaders to retreat from their reckless spending spree.“

H ealth Care ($843M) Social Security ($747M) Defense ($718M) Income Security ($539M) N et Interest ($235M) G ov ’t. Programs ($136M) V eteran’s Benefits ($121M) Education ($103M) Transportation ($102M)

of cuts to Medicare and Medicare, as well as the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, will still be subject to fierce debate. Something that may play a role in a future compromise is the bipartisan deficit commission that President Obama founded in order to find solutions to the deficit. Last year the commission suggested a package of measures including spending cuts as well as measures that would eliminate tax loopholes while reducing tax rates to encourage spending and investment. Despite this credible plan, few members of the commission voted in favor of it, with the result that it was not put before congress. President Obama largely ignored the report by

the commission while he drew up his budget plans and members of both parties criticized the parts of the report that were not in line with their policies. There is, however, still hope as a small group of senators from both parties have come together to work the commission’s ideas into a proposal in the Senate that could well and up being an agent of compromise in this debt crisis. Deficit reduction is certainly necessary in the U.S. and hopefully the signs will point more towards compromise than confrontation. The U.S. can, if it should want to, learn from its European neighbours. The UK, for example enacted a spending cuts and tax increases to reduce their deficit

and debt. Greece, Ireland and Portugal are taking drastic measures to get their public finances under control. Germany has a “Schuldenbremse”, a so-called debt brake, to legally bind politicians to cutting the deficit. Despite the need to show strength and persistence with the presidential election only a year and a half away, the Democrats and Republicans and President Obama must work together and make a compromise to follow the steps of the Europeans and reduce the deficit and eventually the debt burden. It is not right that tomorrow’s generations must finance today’s spending. Now is the time to act and ensure that debt will not burden the future! «

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The Return of French Militarism BY TUCKER JONES


the Atlantic, the French military doesn’t get the credit it deserves. To Americans, the phrase is almost oxymoronic. The Fifth Republic’s staunch opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq drove these jokes and other anti-French sentiment to its peak, with Congressional cafeterias serving “freedom fries” and “freedom toast” instead of their identical “French” counterparts. For a while, a Google search of “French military victories” would bring up a prank page displaying “no results found.” But France’s recent interventions in Côte d’Ivoire and Libya put these jokes out of touch with reality. In Libya, France and the United Kingdom pushed for a United Nations Security Council Resolution allowing “humanitarian intervention” and the establishment of a no-fly zone over the nation. Over the concerns of a more cautious United States, and without the support of Russia or China, the Security Council passed Resolution 1973, granting France and the UK their wish. On March 19th, France led the charge into Libyan airspace: as President Sarkozy called together a coalition of nations willing to enforce Resolution 1973, he had already ordered the French Air Force to stop Colonel Gaddafi’s advance toward the rebel-held city of Benghazi. Despite promises of “no French boots on the ground,” Sarkozy has offered to supply the rebels with military advisors. He has also promised to increase France’s air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces. Together with the United States and the United Kingdom, France has declared that the Colonel must step down, and they seem committed to getting the job done. The French military quickly broke the stalemate in Côte d’Ivoire between Alassane Ouattara, the winner of November’s presidential eleccross

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tion, and Laurent Gbagbo, president since 2000 and runner-up in the election. Gbagbo and his troops held the south of the nation for months, until clashes between Ouattara’s and Gbagbo’s supporters became even more violent. With the opening of the Second Ivorian Civil War, thousands of soldiers defected from Gbagbo’s army. By March 31, Ouattara’s forces were marching on Abidjan, the capital. Fearing even greater bloodshed, on April 10, UN and French forces conducted air strikes and other attacks against the presidential palace. The next day, Ouattara’s men marched into the palace and placed Gbagbo under arrest. The French government was very clear in declaring that its troops did not enter the palace, trying to credit the victory to the Ivorian people. Nevertheless, French support singlehandedly turned the tide in the civil war, and installed the legitimately elected president into power. So what is driving France’s newfound military might? There are two prominent theories. Nicolas Sarkozy, the country’s current president, is up for reelection in April of next year. But as of now, his polling numbers aren’t looking so good. According to a Reuters poll in mid-April, Sarkozy would only win around 19% of the vote in the first round of the elections, putting him in third place behind the Socialists and the right-wing Front National. At his current rate, Sarkozy wouldn’t even make it past the Presidential primary. Sarkozy’s government was initially slow to respond to the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. In 2008, Sarkozy was made an honorary Tunisian citizen. Just before the fall of Ben Ali’s regime in Tunisia, the French foreign minister proposed sending in troops to back the autocracy. France was still reshaping its policy as Egypt overthrew Mubarak in just two and a half weeks, but wasn’t able to pick

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sides until the action was effectively over. Sarkozy and his government significantly lost face with the early Arab revolutions, and were desperate to save their image. With the crises in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire, Sarkozy may have found a way to do what is right and what is popular: in March, two thirds of French citizens supported the nation’s intervention across the Mediterranean. Cynical critics see Sarkozy’s humanitarian intervention as just another way to increase his poll numbers. “If Sarkozy could do it, he would declare a war every week,” Didier Mathus, a Socialist legislator told the New York Times in early April. Sarkozy’s change of face might not just be personal, however. All around the world, France is largely seen as a declining superpower, perhaps no longer worthy of its permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Its opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq was misconstrued as weakness or staunch pacifism. Further, distracted by unemployment, immigration, strikes and no longer holding an empire, France faces the threat of irrelevance in the global community. The interventions in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire were popular across the liberal world. In both cases, France led a multilateral coalition in support of a legitimate native uprising. This contrasts greatly with the American invasion of Iraq, which was aimed at top-down regime change. France is changing its reputation from pacifism to humanitarian interventionism. It hopes to prevent genocides: Resolution 1973 “Authorizes Member States […] to take all necessary measures […] to protect civilians,” language derived directly from the aftermath of the international community’s failure to react to the Rwandan Genocide. The new France is portraying itself as the defender of the old promise of “never again,” and of budding

democratic movements across Africa. But it will have to work hard in order to differentiate the new humanitarianism from centuries-old imperialism and French hegemony in Western Africa. The recent intervention in Côte d’Ivoire is France’s second in its former colony within a decade, and the newly stated goal to remove Gaddafi from power sounds less like humanitarian intervention and more like Bush-era “regime change.” Again, cynics see this as more of a ploy or P.R. stunt than a real French commitment to humanitarianism. From France’s slow uptake on the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions to its noncommittal stance on protests in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, and elsewhere across the Arab world, it is clear that France is picking its fights. When asked why only Libya and Côte d’Ivoire were graced with French presence, the French Ambassador to the United Nations told Al Jazeera, “Frankly, we did it because we could.” A true commitment to democracy would require France to step in not only when it was convenient, but also when it would be difficult. No matter its true cause, France’s return to the world stage provides much-needed reinforcements for liberal democracy. Though the French, like the Americans before them, do not have the resources to play “world police,” it is virtually impossible to argue that the removal of Laurent Gbagbo was harmful to Ivoirians or the surrounding nations. And if the Libyan rebels prove successful, the three neighboring newborn Arab democracies of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt would completely change the face of Mediterranean relations. Old but not out of shape, France is flexing its muscles again. Let’s hope that the French remain committed to their ideals, whether it is true commitment or fear of the polls. Liberalism could use another benefactor. «

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How has the worst nuclear disaster in history changed our world? By Clemens Pilgram

Radiation | Special Report

Photo: United Nations


t came out of the blue.

On April 28th, 1986 workers at the Forsmark nuclear power plant in Sweden evacuated the site after measuring levels of radiation that were forty to hundred times above normal. Only later did they notice that the source of the invisible danger was not their power plant – and that it in fact wasn’t even in Scandinavia. Two days earlier at 1:23am, some 1250 kilometers away from Forsmark and only 100 kilometers north of Kiev, explosions had riddled reactor block four of the Chernobyl nuclear power station, damaging the core and its surrounding buildings. These explosions in turn were caused by a misguided experiment undertaken in disregard of a number of safety regulations which was meant to determine whether the main turbine could provide enough power for the reactor’s cooling systems on its own in the event of a loss of power. Due to a flaw in the Soviet RMBK reactor design disconnecting the reactor from its generator turbines led to an enormous surge in thermal output: the last measurement on record read thirty-three Gigawatts thermal, more than ten times as much as under normal operation. Enormous temperatures caused more and more water to flash to steam, and without any turbines to propel, the resulting high pressure ruptured first the core and later the reactor assembly, blowing a 2000-ton plate out of its position. From then on what happened can only be reconstructed by guessing. It is assumed that the nuclear fuel achieved critical mass state seconds after the first explosion, thus ending the controlled nuclear chain reaction. Meanwhile, a graphite fire was ignited by the high temperatures and a second explosion

was caused by amassing hydrogen, contaminating the surroundings by spreading tons of nuclear material. At the time of the accident the wind was blowing toward the north-west. The first municipality to be affected by the atomic cloud was Pripyat with its 49400 inhabitants, a new town built in the 1970s on the banks of the Pripyat River with the specific purpose of housing the operators of the nearby power plant. On the day of the accident local authorities reacted by ordering residents to stay indoors and keep all windows closed. It was not until the next morning that the population was silently evacuated in thousands of busses. The tragedy could have been a significantly larger one if the wind had blown in the opposite direction. Though not spared completely, Kiev, a megacity with a population of well over two million people from all parts of the Soviet Union, only received a fraction of the deadly radiation large parts of Eastern Europe were plagued with in the days following the disaster. Due to the restrictive information policies of the communist superpower daily life continued without interruption. As every year, May 1st was celebrated with Labour’s Day parades, retrospectively titled the “Millisievert Marches” for the extreme radiation levels on the day. Whether or not the Soviet authorities reacted appropriately is left open to debate. Security issues in the RMBK reactor design had been known years before the accident but were not addressed until the disaster had already happened. A nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl-1 that occurred in 1982 was kept secret, much like the Kyshtym disaster at the Mayak nuclear fuel processing plant in 1957,

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region. Large forest areas in Belarus were destroyed by artificial acid rain seeded by the Soviet Air Force in an attempt to deposit most of the atomic cloud on the ground before it could reach more populous areas. However, a lot more hazardous radioactive material would have been released if the damaged reactor had not been dealt with immediately. Even so, areas of today’s Ukraine, Belarus and Russia that larger in total than Belgium were contaminated. An exclusion zone under military control with a radius of thirty kilometers was established shortly after the evacuation of Pripyat. A new city, Slavutych, was built for the employees of the nuclear power plant, of which individual reactors remained operational. After the decommissioning of the last rector in 2000, plant personnel were reduced to about 3,800. Some 3500 fearless elderly people have returned to their homes, justifying their decision with that they would rather die at home from radiation than die in an unfamiliar place from homesickness. About 400 of them are still alive today. While still far from safe, radiation levels have fallen to a point

where short visits to “the zone” are possible without noticeable health effects. Its depictions in video games like “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl” and “Call of Duty 4” have significantly increased the demand for “Chernobyl tourism”, which will be offered from this summer onwards. On the Belarusian side of the border, small resettlement projects are underway. However even conservative estimates say it will take thousands of years before the region as a whole will be inhabitable again. Recently, the Ukrainian government passed plans for a new security containment to cover the old sarcophagus, which has started to crumble – still, the aftereffects of the catastrophe cost both Belarus and the Ukraine almost five per cent of their respective GDPs. Even today, the negative health effects of the Chernobyl disaster are hard to assess. For years, high radiation levels in fish and drinking water from the Pripyat and Dnieper river systems were dangerously high. By now both are within limits for human consumption. The death toll of the event is under dispute – some sources cite numbers as low as fifty, others

Photo: Vadim Mouchkin/IAEA

of which nothing was known until Zhores Medvedev, a Russian dissident, published his book “The Nuclear Disaster in the Urals” in 1979. While the general public might have behaved more cautiously had they been informed about the danger immediately after the reactor explosions in Chernobyl, it could also have led to the exact opposite, to a mass panic. Apart from the unusually high radiation levels measured all across Europe, pictures from space were the only way for the West to tell what had happened in the first days after the accident. Another frequent point of criticism is the clean-up process which involved approximately 800,000 people in total: the equipment of the firefighters who put out the graphite fires and of the “liquidators”, soldiers whose task it was to clear up the rubble and build a concrete “sarcophagus” surrounding the remains of reactor 4, was poor at best. Hundreds suffered from acute radiation poisoning, thirty of the forty firefighters died within three months. Thyroid cancer became a common complaint among liquidators and residents of the surrounding

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go as high as one million. Both these numbers are to be read with caution, as almost any information regarding nuclear disasters is laden with political opinion, from whichever side it comes from. It is safe to assume that many of these deaths are not consequences of radiation. As Fred Mettler, radiation expert at the University of New Mexico puts it: “The designation of the affected population as ‘victims’ rather than ‘survivors’ has led them to perceive themselves as helpless, weak and lacking control over their future. This, in turn, has led to over cautious behavior and exaggerated health concerns, or to reckless conduct, overuse of alcohol and tobacco, and unprotected promiscuous sexual activity”. He also attributed many of the health defects around Chernobyl to the derelict state healthcare systems were in after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. A whole number of mutations in children born in Europe in the summer of 1986 have been traced back directly to the nuclear disaster: Down syndrome cases in West Berlin doubled in June and remained well above average for years, academic performance in later life of Swedish children born in the

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same time frame slumped. Even today, radiation levels in any given part of Europe are above natural background radiation. Undoubtedly, the Chernobyl disaster played an important role in the downfall of the Soviet Union. However, its political effects were not limited to the Eastern Bloc: although security regulations being tightened at every plant, political movements against nuclear power all around the world gained momentum. Atomic energy, once the flag bearer of scientific and societal advancement, was questioned for the first time in history. Twenty-five years later, one might ask oneself why Chernobyl wasn’t taken as a warning to prevent history from repeating itself. Many a comparison is being made between the recent events in Japan and what happened in that night in 1986, often disregarding the fact that no human error or major design flaws can be held directly responsible for what is happening at Fukushima Daiichi and that Chernobyl happened even without the force of a giant wave. At this point however, all we can do is learn from the past how to handle such a

disaster and hope all reactors in Japan are under control by the end of the year, as is planned. As after Chernobyl, standing against nuclear power has become fashionable again. Considering that renewable energies are still far from being able to meet the energy demand of the day and that global warming is becoming more and more visible every day, calls for the abolition of civilian nuclear power for safety reasons appear purely ideological. Even though a lot has changed in our knowledge of environmental issues since 1986 and there have been many new developments in nuclear technology, making it safer and more efficient every year, it seems to be an attractive compromise to replace existing nuclear power plants with new coal plants, thus putting the entire planet at risk from increased carbon dioxide emissions. The risk from nuclear power plants on the other hand is minimal and restricted to a comparably small region. If he were still alive, British science fiction author Douglas Adams, who as a child wanted to become a nuclear physicist, would probably call out “Don’t Panic”. «


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Health Effects



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Radiation | Special Report


active material are alpha particles, beta particles and gamma rays. Alpha particles usually come from very heavy elements and are essentially helium nuclei with two protons and neutrons each therefore lacking two electrons when compared to regular helium atoms. While they are unable to penetrate the skin, body tissue can be bombarded from the inside with alpha particles when radioactive material is inside the body, causing cells to die. Beta particles are very light, fast moving electrons or positrons. They can be stopped very easily and therefore cannot penetrate the skin, however they can cause burns similar to sun burns. The most harmful emissions are gamma rays. These are highly energetic beams that can penetrate the skin and destroy body cells even when no radioactive material is present inside the body. When the Fukushima reactors exploded, radioactive material was released into the environment. A portion of it stayed on the ground, but some material entered into the clouds. People near to or working with radioactive materials are often exposed to gamma rays whereas alpha particles can effect even those who are not in direct contact with radioactive material, as they can travel in the clouds. For example, when a radioactive cloud travels, its contents will rain down in another location. The rain falls on grass, which is then consumed by cows. The cows produce radioactive milk, which we then drink, allow-

ing alpha particles to enter into our bodies. This in turn leads to various health problems. The most common health problems linked to radiation are cancers, cataracts, heart weakness, genetic mutations, miscarriages, infertility and radiation sickness. These problems however are directly related to the dosage of radiation received and the duration of the exposure. In our everyday life, we are all exposed to what is known as background radiation. eight-five percent of this comes from natural sources as many soils and rocks, especially those from volcanic areas emit radiation. We are also constantly hit by cosmic radiation as particles bombard the earth from space. Cosmic radiation affects airplane crews and frequent flyers more than others due to the high altitudes at which they fly. For this reason, an aircrew member or frequent flyer may be exposed to slightly higher levels of radiation. Fifteen percent of background radiation is caused by human activities. These include medical procedures such as x-rays or CT scans as well as the generation of electricity, not only from nuclear power plants but also through coal and geothermal. Contrary to popular belief, the entire nuclear industry only amounts to one percent of the dose of background radiation we receive. A typical yearly dose of background radiation is two mSv. To put this into context, 100 mSv per year are necessary in order for us to have

Cover Photo: Staff Sgt. Jonathan Steffen/Department of Defense | Photo:

March 11th, 2011, a catastrophe devastated Japan. Not only an earthquake but also a tsunami hit, leading to the destruction of one of the worlds largest nuclear power plants, Fukushima. The impact this had was not only disastrous for the locals: around the world, people feared for their health as the media suggested that the radiation almost certainly spread. Panic spread, people were warned not to eat and drink certain products, wind directions were monitored more closely than ever and the world braced itself for what could be a radiation epidemic. This leads to one big question: how harmful is radiation: are we really all at risk? It is well known that radiation is bad for your health, but to what extent and why? The form of radiation that is potentially damaging for our body tissues is ionising radiation. When particles of radioactive materials such as iodine-131 and caesium-137 break down into smaller particles, a process otherwise known as decay, they release certain particles. The reason that these particles are dangerous is that they have a large amount of energy – they can be compared with tiny, extremely penetrative light beams. When radioactive materials enter the body through inhalation or consumption, these light beams can be emitted, penetrating our body tissues and causing damage to our cells. The emissions caused by radion

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a slight increase in the risk of cancer and a single exposure of 10,000 mSv, or 10 Sv, is needed for radiation to be fatal in a few weeks. This shows how little the radiation that naturally occurs effects our health. That said, will the higher levels of radiation that have been leaked by Fukushima cause any health problems? Right now it is too early to tell, but we can compare the current situation to the one twenty-five years ago, when largest nuclear accident in history occurred. In 1986, in what is now the Ukraine, a nuclear reactor in Chernobyl exploded. 134 workers, the first of who were later to be up to 800,000 “liquidators”, were sent to the accident site to clear away the rubble and seal off the reactor. These workers had very little protective clothing and were severely exposed to the radiation. However, even they only received 120mSV on average. Due to the short period of time in which they received this radiation twenty-eight of them died within three months. By 2004, a further nineteen deceased. In total, only a fraction of those who were exposed the most to the radiation from Chernobyl died. If so few of the liquidators were harmed severely, the chance of the whole world to be harmed by the Fukushima disaster is extremely low, if not negligible. Health problems that arise from high levels of radiation can be classed into two categories. Non-stochastic effects, such as radiation sickness, are those that result from short exposures

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to high levels of radiation. The symptoms of radiation sickness are nausea, weakness, hair loss and organ malfunction, it can also lead to premature aging or even death. Stochastic effects are those that are caused by a long term exposure to lower levels of radiation. They include cancers and DNA mutations: radiation has the ability to cause cancer as it is able to break chemical bonds. When alpha particles or gamma rays bombard the cells, breaking chemical bonds and damaging tissue, the body tries to repair them. However, these particles also disrupt the repair functions of the cells, causing an uncontrolled cell growth, which simply put, is a cancer. During the formation of a new cell, DNA mutations can also occur as radioactive particles disrupt both the repair process and the growth of cells. This can lead to genetic mutations, which are then passed down to later generations. Children are more easily affected by radiation: because their cells repair themselves at a higher speed, there are more opportunities for radiation to disrupt this process. However, if levels of radiation are very low, cells have enough time to repair themselves, therefore, health problems do not occur. One of the most common cancers caused by radiation, especially in children, is thyroid cancer. Iodine-131 is one of the main radionuclides released following nuclear accidents. When in the body, Iodine accumulates in the thyroid gland, regardless of whether it is radioactive

or not. If it is of the radioactive type, its decays damage the thyroid, resulting in thyroid cancer. Many radionuclides not only cause health problems but are also used to diagnose and treat them. For instance, Iodine-131 can be used as a source of radiation to treat certain thyroid conditions such as hyperthyroidism. When diagnosing certain conditions, x-rays and CT scans are often used. These work by sending radiation through the body to detect anatomical abnormalities. Changes in body tissue can also be detected by injecting small amounts of radioactive material bound to radiopharmaceuticals into the body to image certain organ tissues. Interestingly, radiation therapy is also used to kill cancer. Normally, radiation damages cells, disrupting normal processes and causing cancer. On the other hand, radiation can be used to kill cancerous cells. This does however risk damaging some surrounding healthy cells in the process but is very effective in reducing the size of cancers. Therefore, it is often used in palliative care. The recent radiation scare was highly exaggerated by the media and radiation is not something that most of us should worry about in our everyday lives. Very few people’s health will be harmed by the events in Fukushima; those living outside of Japan are unlikely of being affected at all. Thanks to recent medical advances, our health is more likely to be improved by radiation than to take harm.

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A Stony Path

Will West Africa ever be ready for true Democracy? By Vivian Würf


ecently, the

cept of democracy work at all in West Africa? There is no single answer to this. Nigeria and Ghana are both well on their way toward becoming stable democracies, whereas countries like Libera and Ivory Coast trail far behind. Ghana is a fairly safe place in comparison with other African states. In 2009 John Atta Mills took office as president of Ghana, marking the second time that governmental power had been transferred legitimately, therefore securing Ghana's status as a stable democracy. In spite of its oil wealth, Nigeria isn’t quite as progressive as Ghana, seeming underdeveloped or even stunted compared to the latter. The country also took a big step forward with its recent elections which ran smoothly with relatively little violence or fraud in contrast to previous elections. This event was crucial for the future of Nigeria, strengthening President Goodluck Johnathan’s position and marking the end of a decay of democratic values. It could easily help to restrict the rampant corruption in the country’s administration. All this leads to another question: How come the differences between West African states are so immense? To find an appropriate answer one has to take a look at their respective historical backgrounds. Ever since the 15th century, the Portuguese, French and Britons founded forts and factories along the coastline with the purpose of gold, ivory and slave trade. Today, West Africa is marked by large contrasts between the Francophone and Anglophone territories. Quite often, connections between former colonies and their mother countries are stronger than those between neigh-

boring countries. Up until the 1950s and 60s, when independence movements arose, Nigeria and Ghana were under British and Ivory Coast under French reign. In 1957, the Republic of Ghana became the first country south of the Sahara to achieve independence, with others soon to follow. Since its nations’ independence, West Africa has suffered under numerous dictatorships, military coups and rampant political corruption. The region has seen a number of bloody civil wars - examples being the Nigerian Civil War which lasted from 1967 to 1970 and the conflict in Ivory Coast that began in 2002 - and in the 1990s, AIDS became a significant problem, particularly in Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Nigeria. As a stable presidential republic in the Commonwealth, Ghana exerts

Photo: Twice25 & Rinina25

German ministry of foreign affairs issued a warning concerning travels to Ivory Coast. The cause was the unpredictable political development in the country following the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo on April 11th. Currently, the Ivory Coast peace process depends on how Alassane Ouattara, the new president, is going to act. One can hope that he will find the strength to patch up his torn country and set a good example by incorporating the opposition into policy making. One step in this direction was taken by appointing a committee with the difficult task of instituting conciliation and honest communication between the conflicting parts of Ivory Coast. In addition to the generous offer to waive all debts owed to the European Investment Bank, the €180 Million promised by the European Union as an aid package to boost reconstruction efforts should help the stabilization progress. With banks opening for the first time in months and cocoa exports up and running again, the nation’s economy should be on its way to recovery. Apparently, the civil war has come to an end with the arrest of Gbagbo, who refused to leave office in-spite of being voted out of office. It seems, however, that the election in November divided the country even more and that the current peace is a very fragile one: At the end of April, the German ambassador and his bodyguards were pelted with stones by an outraged crowd – bloody shootings and plundering continue. The hotly debated question arising from this conflict is: Does the con-

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the separation of powers based on a constitution that grants the population basic human rights. With around 56% of the population conducting subsistence agriculture, Ghana is still one of the poorest countries of the world. Yet with the economic situation having stabilized in the early 2000s and the joint debt relief program of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund having been put into practice in 2004, improvements are made on a daily basis. In contrast, Ivory Coast has quite a progressive economy but significantly larger problems on the political side. This is mainly because Ivory Coast had enormous economic advantages from having been in possession of the French, as French colonists tried to stimulate the development of export economies in their colonies,

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whereas British colonies like Ghana had mainly been exploited for mining gold. At the time of its independence, Ivory Coast was West Africa's most prosperous nation. The first independent government guaranteed farmers good prices for their products, further stimulating production. By 1979, the country was the world’s leading exporter of cocoa. Contrary to other African nations that sought to expel Europeans, Ivory Coast allured them – a large contribution to the 'Ivoirian miracle' was made by French technicians. For twenty years, the West African nation’s economy maintained a steady annual growth rate, until the global recession of the early 1980s and a local drought set an end to all this positive development. Due to the collapsing sugar and timber prices, its external debt increased threefold.

Thesedays, Ivory Coast has a relatively high per capita income and remains the world’s largest exporter of cocoa. The continued maintenance of close ties with France, diversification of agriculture for export and the encouragement of foreign investments have been driving factors that positively influenced the economic boom. Still, the combination of competition, falling market prices of export goods and internal corruption hinder a return to the financial success story of the nation’s past. Nigeria has an abundant supply of natural resources as well as highly developed financial, legal, communications and transport sectors and a functioning stock exchange. Corruption and mismanagement have, however, prevented the country from exporting oil at full capacity and have slowed growth in the mining industry and agricultural sector. As a result, Nigeria has vast areas of underutilized arable land. Throughout the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan, who can be described as really interested in free and fair elections and the administration of the democratic activist Attahiru Jega, Nigeria could regain strength.In April 2006, the country made history by becoming the first African Nation to pay off its debt of an estimated $30 Billion completely. In this new and invigorating position, Nigeria - the African Giant with its population of over 150 Million - could be able to achieve its democratic goals and serve as a role model for all other West African nations. As a current member of the UN Security Council, now is a great time to take a stand for democracy and equality, proving that wealth isn’t everything and showing Ivory Coast the way. «

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Photo: UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein




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poverty, the talk reaches Africa and from there on it reaches many countries, yet many are simply forgotten in all the chaos and corruption of the Sub Saharan area. Liberia is one of the countries the talk seldom reaches. A small country on the West Coast of Africa, located between more familiar places like Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast, it is home to around four million people. The hot equatorial climate reaches from the coastal capital of Monrovia and its mangroves to the drier grassland plateaus found further inland. Even though Liberia is only one of many small countries on the West African Coast, its history significantly distinguishes it from all others. During the territorial scramble for Africa, Ethiopia was the only other country alongside Liberia than was not under constant occupation by foreign European powers. Although European occupation may not have a place in Liberian history, the country still has connections with other continents: as freed slaves that migrated from America founded it. Yet all this glamorous history did not spare the population from the most brutal and savage civil wars that the face of the earth has ever seen. Until a military coup in 1980 it could have been said that Liberia would be one of the African countries that would be better off in the future. Yet when President William R. Tolbert was killed by Samuel Doe’s men on April 12th, 1980 the country met its fate: unrest and poverty which continue to this day. Samuel Doe established a military dictatorship under the name “The People’s Redemption Council” and was, to begin with, not unpopular among many of the indigenous tribes as they had been excluded from politics before. After nine years however, with the country’s economical status steadily declining, a man by the name of Charles Taylor violently emerged. Charles G. Taylor, who had in

fact aided in planning Doe’s coup left after of being accused of embezzlement. Taylor had now returned to the scene with the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). This rebel force was Taylor’s tool for unleashing widespread torture, massacre and the trademark of the “terror troops”, severed limbs. Not even the neighbouring countries were spared as the NPFL partly sponsored the radical RUF party in Sierra Leone. This initiated the first of two civil wars that Liberia would suffer from which would be by many of the revolutionaries lovingly be called “World War Three”. Preceded by a long international protest, a UN peacekeeping mission arrested Taylor and his troops, leading to an ease in the situation with many of the former warlords willingly surrendering. Today the country, with its one stared American flag, has a depressing Gross Domestic Product of $500 putting it alongside Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo; the worst of the worse. It is currently estimated that the vast majority of the population live on less than $1.25 per day. When combined with an infant mortality rate of 80 per 1000 (UK: 5 per 1000) and a life expectancy of only fifty-eight years, the quality of life is more than atrocious. Between all these figures of disarray however, the percentage of the population with HIV/ Aids has surprised many with an improvement of 10% in the last decade. Although the newly instated republic has created a situation resembling peace, there is still largely prevailing anarchy throughout the country. Liberia is for most Westerns just one more country in Africa, yet march of this year the hotly debated trials of Charles Taylor ended after about three and a half years of investigation. After over one hundred witnesses and over 1,000 exhibits, the trial chamber at The Hague concluded that Taylor was guilty of eleven war crimes, numerous violations of human rights and of breaking several international laws.

Wires have also surfaced that indicate an even closer relationship between Taylor and the RUF considering the diamond trade and the African heroine distribution. Finally after “proof beyond doubt” Taylor sentences still awaits finalization, which will be publicly announced early 2012. The current situation in Liberia is hardly ever covered by the media but the Canadian online news channel recently produced a documentary which revealed the real situation in the country. Host Spike Honze is shown some of the markets in which human meat can still be found for sale and a cemetery in which the poorest of the poor sleep inside empty graves. The sheer surrealism of the documentary is what fascinates the viewer, as poverty in this uncensored form is almost never never broadcasted so openly. With occasional documentaries on North Korea and Lebanon available online, one must question whether or not the World Wide Web is being used to its full potential. Where between the stocks on Wall Street and the current war in Afghanistan is there space to report on just one more poor country in Africa? It is simple to describe Western thoughts on countries like Liberia; when speaking of Africa it is easy to mix the suffering of one into the suffering of many. While we in the Western World ask ourselves which of Apple’s new iPods we should buy, Liberian citizens and those in other African countries ask themselves where they will get the food from to survive the next day. It is essential that we remember that there is continuous suffering around the world, not just in Japan and Haiti where the media flock in great numbers. « Letters to the Editor Share your view about something we’ve published by emailing:

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The Rise of the Right-Wing BY ASMO ESSER

With thousands seeking asylum and a feeling of economic insecurity arising, the European voters’ preferences shift toward the right.


ainly due to the finan-

cial and economic crisis of the last couple of years, the actual or looming bankruptcy of banks, companies and even countries such as Greece, Portugal or Ireland, the political landscape of Europe has changed dramatically. Right-Wing populists are gaining popularity everywhere in Europe. They thrive especially on rising dark sentiments on topics such as immigration to Europe, the Euro or the politics of the European Union. In many countries these dangerous agitators have already moved into parliament and in some cases even taken over important political offices. Many citizens have lost trust in the Euro, and believe it will continue to loose value. The growing number of immigrants from Africa and the Arabic world has raised emotions, radicalizing many. Benefiting from fears of a loss of national integrity and identity, job loss and open - or barely concealed - prejudices against immigrants, right-wing parties have gained substantial power and influence within an uncomfortably short span of time. The recent general elections in Finland and Hungary prove this trend. Timo Soini (48) and his party ‚True Finns‘ (Fin: “Perussuomalaiset”) received 19 percent of the votes in Finland, nearly four times as many as in the last elections. Soini, who, as a “true Finn”, loves his Sauna and his summerhouse, holds that “Everyone needs their roots”. While their party

program can be considered politically moderate compared to other rightwing groups in Europe, the “True Finns” promote nationalism, stand against abortion, gay marriage and, of course, the European Union and foreigners. Nevertheless, they will be part of the new governing coalition of Finland. On his first day in parliament Teuvo Hakkarainen, a “True Finn” newly elected into parliament, already commented on immigration using racial slurs: “A nigger comes here knowing only one word: ‘asylum’”. A 19 percent win might seem pretty high at the first glance, can however not measure its self with the victory the eurosceptic national conservative party in Hungary achieved. Viktor Orbán (47), president of the ‘Fidesz’ party, received 52,7 percent of the votes in the last general election in Hungary. Soon after winning the overall majority in the Hungarian parliament and being sworn into office as prime minister, he caused uproar in all of Europe against his politics. Orbán changed the constitution with a resolution made possible by his absolute majority, without much involvement of the population or a constitutional assembly. Profiteers of the new constitution are primarily Viktor Orbán and his party. The rights and responsibilities of the constitutional court were limited drastically. Conversely, the influence of the government on judicial decisions increased. NGOs have criticized that the new Hungarian constitution discriminates against atheists, homosexuals and single mothers. The

European Union and the UN have harshly criticized Orbán’s actions, not being able to interfere with Hungarian internal affairs in any other way. Shortly before Hungary took over the presidency of the Council of the European, Orbán issued a law effectively stifling the freedom of press in Hungary. Making matters worse, Fidesz is just one of two right wing parties represented in the Hungarian national parliament in Budapest. The more radical right-wing ’Jobbik’ party received more than 16 per cent of the popular vote, entering parliament for the first time with paroles like “Hungary is for Hungarians” or “Israel is buying out Manhattan, Poland and Hungary”. It wasn’t hard to find who to blame when fascist groups openly attacked Roma in the northern Hungarian village of Gyönggyöspata in April. A lot of the recent violence can be traced back to Victor Orbán’s government’s lax controls over right wing extremists - police forces did not intervene when the fascists, many of whom belong to organizations closely linked to the Jobbik party, organized ‘training camps’, showing off weapons and openly threatening the local Roma population. Finland and Hungary are just two of the many examples of the rise and effects of right-wing politics. All over Western Europe, there is a radicalization of the population going on, resulting in a rapid growth of the popularity of right-wing parties. Other than the French ‘Front Na-

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Photo: ines saraiva/Flickr

tional‘ or the Austrian´Freiheitliche Partei Östereichs`, which have both already been part of the political establishment for quite a while, other examples for right-wing parties which have entered either their respective national assemblies or the European Parliament are, for example, the Dutch ´Partij for de Vriheid`, the Danish ´Dansk Folkeparti´, the Swedish ‘Sverigedemokraterna’, the ‘Laikós Orthódoxos Synagermós’ in Greece and both the ‘Lega Nord’ and the ‘Alleanza Nazionale’ in Italy. Interesting enough, apart from in a couple of regional parliaments in eastern states, right-wing parties have yet to gain a foothold in Germany. Perhaps this is the case because the monstrous crimes committed by the Nazis are too just horrendous to ever be forgotten. Like many of the – arguably also sometimes somewhat naïve - right-wing politicians of today, the Nazis initially had many supporters, even among intellectual circles. However, as we have learnt from history, things got terribly out of hand. Right-wing populism is not a purely European phenomenon. In the United States, the Tea Party movement has also celebrated large victories. And, surely, while it is important to discriminate between right-wing populism, right-wing extremism and fascism, experts warn that right-wing populism can readily become a fertile ground for fascism. We need to watch out.

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How Greedy Capitalists will end up saving the Planet.

Photo: Francisco Diez/Flickr

Sustainable Development | Part Two After the recent financial crisis that triggered a massive global recession, people are a little more apprehensive of big business than they were a few years ago, particularly in the banking sector. The large firms, conglomerates and multinationals are usually accredited as the primary perpetrators of unsustainable practices which is true to a certain extent, but what is the most important issue for the followers of sustainable development at this time is to move past the passive moaning phase of awareness and move into the stage of enlightened collective action. As mentioned in the previous article of this series, a key to making great changes in the way we live sustainably involves large spread awareness of the topic. The power of the consumer is not to be underestimated, as we must not forget that companies can donate to as many politicians’ reelection campaigns as they want, but they cannot defeat the market economy. What people have to realize is that the more they create a demand for sustainable and sustainably produced goods and services, the more pressure will be upon the companies around the world to produce the appropriate supply to meet that demand. This is not at all an abstract, unattainable goal, as the European Union’s research states that: “an overwhelming majority of Europeans (eighty-three percent) said the impact of a product

on the environment plays an important aspect in their purchasing decisions.” Although there will undoubtedly be disparity between the Western World and third world countries, as well as countries with emerging markets, if the EU were to set an appropriate example, seconded by many of the firms of the member nations, there is a viable chance of a massively raised global awareness of the issue. This is, of course, the great power of the people in simplified practice, but there are also many hidden dangers involved in the process. As many have said however, there is an even greater potential for companies who are willing to take risks and engage in true sustainability on their own initiative. Another important thing to mention is that sustainability does not only relate to the environment but encompasses social and economic sustainability as well, not to mention the conservation of resources for future generations. It finds many applications, touching all aspects of a firm and potentially causing, not only improved public relations and image, but long term savings and market advantages for those firms willing to invest in the right technologies at the right times. What must be carefully observed however, is a process known as “green washing” that is becoming very popular among firms who wish for the positive image mentioned but

are unwilling to invest the resources required. Usually, “green washing” involves advertising campaigns praising a firm’s supposedly sustainable practices without the firm actually practicing them, cheating consumers and abusing the good intentions of a noble-minded movement. Although there is not yet legislation in most countries to deal with the matter, it is one of the prime examples of corporations violating their social responsibilities. CSR is the notion that firms have a moral obligation to society as much as they have an obligation to produce profits for their shareholders, enforced by the companies themselves unto their own businesses. This kind of idea, along with corporate sustainability could produce a business climate that is less voracious and reckless in its consumption of finite resources. Past this point, we move more into the realm of legislation than business but the importance of firms cooperating cannot be understated. Although they could not defeat a massive shift in the demand for sustainable energy as well as other goods and services, they do have great influence in many countries and governments, holding many politicians to ransom by their wallets – some more willing than others. «

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Having retired from professional football, the woman who used to play on the German football team is now tasked with representing the FIFA World Cup.

Q: How did you originally become interested in soccer? A: I had a soccer-crazy father and brother. That’s how I started out and after a while, my brothers coach said “since she is always there and running around the pitch anyway she can play as well” and that’s how I really began to play soccer with the boys.

Q: How did it feel like to win a medal at the Olympic Games? A: It’s a little different in soccer than in other sports, since we you only go to the Olympic village for the finals and get to know that feeling together and also watching other sports, cheering for other German athletes and meeting them in the Cantina; but like I said it’s mostly outside the main event, which is a shame. This is also why my most enjoyable Olympic games were in Sydney, as we actually were in Syd-

Q: So it’s very much the international feeling of the events that is important? A: Well, like I said, as a soccer player you are usually slightly marginalized at the Olympic Games, so you usually get that feeling relatively late. Of course it is a special feeling, in the changing rooms and elsewhere, but we are, for example, never allowed to walk in at the great entrance during the opening ceremonies since we usually have already been playing games for two or so days, outside of the Olympic village. Q: Can you still remember the feeling you had at the end of your last game (Japan vs. Germany)? A: Yes, very well in fact, especially afterwards. It was a very emotional moment for me. It was also a very sad moment, since I knew it was my last game, so I still have it very present in my memory. Q: How did it feel like to be nominated best female player of the year 2006? A: Well, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t nice to be upraised from the team once in a while for particular achievement, but in the end it is the championships and the world cups that are the real achievements. In one

respect it was a beautiful thing since the decision is made by the coaches and leaders of the national football associations and it is very nice to hear that they consider you the best player in the world. Q: What moved you to decide to end your career? A: There were several reasons, and I considered it very carefully after the world cup title 2007, as I had very many injuries towards the end of my career, particularly compared to the younger players. I considered participating in the 2008 Olympics, since the only success I hadn’t yet achieved with my team was the Olympic gold medal, so I wanted to try for it one more time. I wanted to quit at the highest point of my career and therefore think that a bronze medal is as good a place as any to draw the line. Q: Could you perhaps consider becoming a coach yourself; maybe of a future German national team? A: Not at the moment, no. I currently have the A-licence, the second highest licence one can have as a coach in Germany. I am considering making the Fussballlehrer for the full fledged top licence. I have trained with children and still do, which is a lot of fun, but I now have a very fulfilling job, at least until after the world cup, and I think I will wait with the Fussballlehrer and those considerations until a later date.

Interview: Albert Reymann & Gordon Armstrong; Special Thanks to Amanda Ife

Q: What did you most enjoy in your career as a soccer player? What was the best part of it all? A: First and foremost, having fun. It’s not like you can make particularly large amounts of money in women’s soccer, and you have to invest a lot of time. Of course I had the good luck to be able to play in an excellent team and we were able to win quite a lot of championships, not to mention the good fortune to have been able to play in Germany and for the German national team, with which we were also quite successful, but it all comes back down to the fun of it.

ney a lot of the time and were there with the German team, but all in all I think that a world cup title in soccer is something really special.

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Q: And which role have you assumed during this world cup? A: I am a member of the DFB as an organisational member of the world cup. It’s just wonderful to be right at the heart of it all while not being on the pitch anymore, but still having helped to set up and organize this cup. Not to mention that I am ambassador for this world cup and travel all over the place to raise the anticipation for this event, which also involves training sessions with children and cooperation with the ZDF Morgenmagazin during the cup so I will certainly be very busy throughout. Q: Do you believe that women’s soccer is under-appreciated by the media and society in general in Germany? A: I don’t think so at all. It is usually the case that people compare men’s and women’s soccer, which I think, you simply cannot do. Whether you take swimming or handball, all fighting for more media attention, we are very present in the media, with out games transmitted live on public television at primetime and if you consider that women’s soccer has only officially existed for around forty years, what we have achieved in that time, reaching the media and a broader audience, is very impressive. Therefore saying that “oh the men are on TV much more often and talked about much more” is useless as no sport will ever really take over from men’s soccer in Germany. Of course we have to keep working to retain and improve our position in the media and public consciousness, making sure that we don’t simply have a short hype during the world cup in Germany, but a lasting effect afterwards, perhaps showing some more key games of the German league live on TV, but we cannot expect that it will be the same as the men’s soccer. Q: Do you think that women’s soccer will continue to be a success story in years to come? A: Well, as I said, we are working hard to make sure that this does not turn out to just be a period of hype during

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the world cup, hopefully also to the German league to fill more stadiums during the games which will certainly be nice for the players and good for the sport. Of course we hope that even more girls will decide to play soccer and find that it is a beautiful sport that is not just for boys and as the membership numbers rise the girl’s and women’s soccer in Germany will be in the rise. Q: What can you tell us about women’s soccer in other countries you have visited during your travels? A: Surely the U.S. is and always has been a leader and pioneer in this respect, with almost every second girl in the country playing soccer. If you see Hollywood movies nowadays it is completely normal that the daughter is picked up from soccer training. This of course means they also have a very strong national team, but here in Germany we have the advantage in that we have a much better system of clubs in the league. Of course in the U.S. girl’s and women’s has great recognition and already had forty to forty-five thousand spectators per game in 2003, while we here in Germany were still fighting for recognition, and of course hold the all time record of over 200,000 spectators in the finals of 1999 U.S. vs. China. In developing countries, particularly in Africa, they are clearly not quite so far yet; here in Europe we are working towards that goal, in France, England, etc… Many nations have recognized the sport and are moving towards supporting it in their countries. Q: We didn’t think that the sport was making such a great progress on the international stage. A: Yes, well, there are surely countries, particularly the Arab and Muslim countries, where it is very very difficult to do anything, but there is lots of work being done in that direction, also by FIFA, trying to show them that they can embrace the sport. My former coach, for instance, at the FFC Frankfurt was in Bahrain trying to spread the message of women’s soccer. Taking these steps to be accepted

is important and we can see how it is developing. Q: How much of soccer is talent and how much is hard work and training? A: That is quite hard to answer. I guess you have to be born with some talent. If you are completely untalented and uncoordinated it will surely be difficult, so a little talent is definitely useful, but you can achieve a lot through mostly hard work. Q: What was the hardest moment of your career? A: Difficult moments are surely injuries, heavy injuries. I had three injuries, one of which was particularly painful when I broke my foot shortly before the European Championship in 1997, which we eventually won, but I had to watch on TV from the hospital. It was a very bitter feeling and I can clearly imagine how Michael Ballack must have felt when he couldn’t go to the world cup in South Africa due to his injury, since you work towards it for a very long time and it really is one of the harsher moments, along with losing the semi-finals in the Olympics or not being able to leave my last game for the FFC Frankfurt on my own two feet, but having to be carried off on a stretcher due to injury, the first time it happened in my career. I learned a lot during that time, when I had to grit my teeth and pull through and I believe one can learn a lot even from defeats. Q: And what would you suggest to aspiring soccer players among our readers? What is the most important tip you can give them for a career in soccer? A: This brings us back to the first question. I think the most important thing is to have fun doing what you are doing because that will give you the motivation and the strength during the hard times. Maybe bring the motivation to do that extra hour of practice when the others are already home and push yourself that one little bit more that gives you the edge, but never lose the fun of the game. «

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May 2011  

Volume Two, Edition Nine