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17 August 2011
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EDITORâ€™S LETTER 2
There once lived a young girl who was terribly scared of heights. She had been forever scarred by an accident - falling from a tree house 4 metres high - in her childhood. She let her past dictate what she could and could not do. There was no letting go of what had happened. There was no moving forward.
yourself of unwanted past baggage - fear.
You, dear delegates, are similarly, but not as dangerously, thrown into a new situation with EYP. You will have never expected some of the things that go on during the session. You might have a chance to conquer a fear or two, too, be it the fear That same girl got older and, hope- of speaking in public or sleeping in fully, wiser. She understood that the a sleeping bag (it is pretty claustroevents that had happened to her in phobic in there). the past had shaped her into the young woman she had turned out to You will grow during this session. be. She learned to live with her fear. Whether you realise it or not, you will also rid yourself of some past The decision to live with our fears habits, developing new opinions. comes easily, as it is not everyday Here, at this session, you get to acthat we have to face them. We are cess your past, move forward - fast seldom presented with the oppor- forward, that is - with your head held tunity to overcome them. This girl, high. however, had that chance. Onwards! So, on a windy day she found herself dangling from the edge of one of Your Editor the highest structures ever made by man.There, suspended 356 metres above the ground, she realised that heading fast forward is sometimes the best way to permanently rid
Journalists: Ritvars Masāns Assistants: Milda Šabūnaitė Juris Gogulis Andris Šuvajevs Filips Kapustins Klāvs Galenieks Elīza Spilnere Irma Tukāne Klāvs Galenieks Andre Tamm Oscar Haglind The Embassy of the Netherlands in Riga, Latvia
Which Seat Can I Take? It was only two years ago when the most popular and almost only argument against the nuclear energy was the catastrophy in Chernobyl. At times people also mentioned the explosion in the U.S. and it was a rare occasion when nuclear waste treatment emerged in discussions. Recently has Mother Nature again urged us to rethink usage of the nuclear power. The recent tragedy in Japan blew the minds of the global society. An earthquake, a tsunami and an overdue reaction all together resulted in many casualties and radioactive pollution. As a response to this disaster, Germany – being immune to earthquakes as well as tsunamis – followed the opinion of environmentalists and decided to shut all of its self-owned nuclear power plants until the year 2022. The same path has also been chosen by Switzerland, who has abandoned its nuclearprogram. However, there are a couple of very strong arguments also in favour of nuclear energy. The first one
is to continue following the European Union’s climate change package which includes a 20 percent cut of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. This is the aim that the Netherlands has chosen as its priority and in order to reach the goal, it intends to build new reactors. Secondly, pro-nuclear argument is about economic and political dependence and is strongly supported by Poland, who is eager to reduce the amount of energy imported from Russia. Similarly to Poland, both Britain and France, with a large number of nuclear power plants, hold the same opinion on the matter.
need for public safety. Safety from radioactive pollution or safety from overheating the planet or national security in an economic and political way. Now you have to decide whether we need to follow an example of the other European countries or can we deal with the problem in our own individual way.
All those different opinions are connected with the same
By Klāvs Galenieks
â€œPeople in rich countries are living longer. Without big reforms they will not be able to retire in comfortâ€? /Philip Coggan/ With the Europe ageing as rapidly as it is now, there is a risk that our generation will be left with no pensions at all. Imagine the misery of being old and penniless, not only being unable to go on holiday, but also having your everyday life threatened- no new clothes, no food, nothing. While 40 years ago, Italy had 5, 1 people of working age for every person beyond retiring age, the number is foreseen to be 1, 5 in 2050. Since the amount of retirees is increasing constantly, bigger taxes have to be paid so that the pensions would be adequate. In the richer countries, like Germany, it is very common that people retire earlier than they are supposed to. The retiring age is 65 years, when most people retire at about 61, which again equips them with pensions thus creating bigger taxes for the working people.
The method that is widely used in the public sector in order to define the possible pensions is that employees have been promised pensions depending on their salaries. The good thing is that one can feel secure about their future incomes. The downside of the story is that the society will have to accommodate itself so to keep these promises.
pensions would depend on the situation in the market whilst protecting the society from losing too much money. Nonetheless, this would transfer all the risk to the individuals as they would not know how big their pensions may be and also having small pensions. The problem that unites these two schemes is that both employees and employers contribute too. As an outHowever, the private come, they essentially sector employers are face the same issues. now providing pensions in which the pay- As one of the solutions, outs are linked to the in- there is a proposal that vestment performance the retirement age of the funds concerned. would be lengthen so This means that the that pension would not
be paid for such a long time. Yet there is no guarantee that pensions paid through a funded scheme would improve the situation. Taxpayers are now expected to save the situation. Either taxes must rise or the benefits must be cut.
By Irma TukÄ ne
Europe is growing old 5
Planet Earth City
By Eliza Spilnere
Imagine a future filled with flying cars, space-travel ships, thousand-story skyscrapers and overpopulation. I’m talking about “The Fifth Element”, Hollywood’s box office hit, starring Bruce Willis. This week ENVI is going to find a way to save planet Earth from the dark threats of the abovementioned future. For the first time in history, over half of humanity lives in cities. Modern people could even be classified as Homo Urbanis, or the City-Ape, meaning humans living in cities. The number of people continues to rise, the same enlargement is occurring with consumption and production, too. The massive unknown consequences of Homo Urbanis’ lifestyle are among the main threats to our planet. A lot of cities are designed by architects who have put emphasis on aesthetics, rather than sustainability, thus not using the resources efficiently. Although it is possible to make a neigh-
borhood which is sustainable and self-sufficient, dealing with waste, including garbage, dirty waters, pollution, is very difficult. It is also relevant to improve the already existing
is facing many problems, however, it is possible to find solutions - most likely from among the already existing ones. Environmentally friendly projects like “Life Box”, “Guerilla Gardening”, dual water systems and vertical farming offer people possibilities to live in a sustainable environment. Solutions for a brighter future can be found in balancing social and economic issues, involving commupossibilities nity interest and action for renewable resources. and much more. It is up to like solar panels on roof- the people of this Earth to tops, collection of used choose the right course of water and rainwater for the action. parks of watering cities and other green spaces. S o c i ety in urban environments
Modern people could even be classified as Homo Urbanis or the CityApe.
Come visit us any time ...Not! By Andre Tamm It is a story that is becoming more common by the day. You have some friends that are backpacking through Europe by train and you, the kind soul that you are, invite them to make a stop in Latvia, as well. Eeek, wrong answer.
Many western Europeans are truly shocked (and most of them saddened) when they hear that the Baltic States are not connected to the European railway system. It’s not that we wouldn’t want to, with polls saying that an overwhelming 75% of Latvians support fast trains to Europe. So, what’s the problem?
One of the critical factors is, of course, money. The main issue with connecting the Baltic States to Europe by train lies in differing railway standards. In order to connect with Europe, the Baltics need to either adjust to European gauge width standards, or keep their old system and have passengers switch trains at the border of Rail Baltica. At the very least, Baltic States would still need to buy new trains, an expense that seems hard to justify in these tough financial times. Luckily, there are some options. First off, it is pos-
sible to apply for EU funding, which could cover up as much as 25% of the costs. Secondly, it should be kept in mind that a railway would generate money from the transportation of both goods and people. Of course, this creates some new issues, such as who should be in charge of managing the railways and how the profit should be divided.
Latvia already is the main point of entry to Russia from Europe. Building the railway would help solidify this important advantage. Another alternative is Via Baltica, a route that runs from Prague to Helsinki crossing the Baltic States. The greatest upside of Via Baltica is that it is already in its final stages of completion and its implementation is very straightforward. Taking all of the above into account, it is up to us to decide what shape the story of Baltic transportation should take in the next decade. And the winner is...
Other possibilities should not be ignored either. A whopping 70% of Latvians believe that building a railway to Moscow should be the top priority, seeing as
Revealing the secrets
By Filips Kapustins
What colour do Smurfs turn into when you strangle them? Why did my girlfriend get mad when I asked if her clothes shrank? And finally, what does a piece of cheese say when it gets its picture taken? Leaves you wondering, huh?
The truth of the matter is that there are various questions in the modern world we are still not able to answer. Luckily, it is our honour to present the radio-cassette response, Deep Thought. They say that an expert knows all the answers, if you ask the right questions. That is clearly the case with this magnificent machine.
Although there is no evidence as to the the exact location, rumours are that Deep Thought lurks near the smell of coffee, fresh cookies and soda. Connect the dots, post a unique question and you might just get your answer. Remember, no man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions.
By Ritvars MasÄ ns
Have you ever illegally done drugs? Do you find the legislative measures against drug users sufficient? Right now, after the UN Global Commission declaring the existing drug policy a failure, Europe and the world are facing a decision. The EU has to be the one that reacts, and must do so fast. In the last 10 years, the consumption of drugs has increased. The number of cannabis consumers has increased by 8.5 percent, whereas the number of opiate consumers has risen by 34.5 percent. On the other hand, the use of tobacco has increased by only 1.3 percent. The total number of illicit drug users has increased by 9.7 percent from 2002 to 2009. In the meantime, countries like Spain, Italy, Portugal and Luxemburg have decriminalised various drugs. A
considerable number of the European youth still think that the majority of drugs should stay illegal. If all drugs stay illegal, then it is easier for the society to deal with criminal actions that are often the result of drug use. If Member States keep things as they are, the mandatory rehabilitation courses for the drug users could help them when their drug addiction is affecting their health. At the same time, if countries keep drugs illegal, they are missing the tax
money that would come from drug sales and which could be used for health care or education. Also, there is no way for the EU to control drug quality. However, if drugs get legalised, societies will inevitably have to deal with a lot more â€˜drug headsâ€™ on the streets. Part of Europe would still shun the drug users even if using drugs was legal. On the bright side, if Member States decriminalised some drugs, for instance, cannabis,
War on war
the use of other drugs would fall drastically, as was the case in Portugal. Finally, the rise of income for the governments is not something that should be left without notice.
Don’t get too excited. If you are looking for animal slaughter techniques, inappropriate material or ways and recipes on how to prepare the ultimate pork dish, fortunately you won’t find it here. I am [with the help of Andrea - chair of AFCO] talking about serious issues, economies that are confused and helpless without their ‘’mother’’, just like small piglets . Although their size varies, their squeak is equally loud and definitely heard all across Europe. PIIGS is an acronym that refers to the economies of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain, often in regard to matters relating to sovereign debt markets. It is true that they are experiencing problems in terms of economy, for instance Greece’s deficit is 4 times higher than the EU allows, thus putting pressure on the stock market. The reason is that they have taken too much debt by borrowing money from the market. As their economies are slowing down dramatically, it is obvious that
they have great difficulties in paying the debt. Let’s start by remembering the term ‘’Eurozone’’. It refers to the 17 Member States of the EU that use a common currency, namely the Euro. The countries that are a part of this fiscal union are economically closely connected. We may conclude, that if the PIIGS are having financial drawbacks it seriously affects both the other Member States and the Euro by bringing its value down. This influences the relation between the Euro and other currencies which leads to
issues in import and export. There is a certain dilemma facing the leaders of the richer countries in the approach to this situation. If they help out the PIIGS countries, they put their own political situation into serious risk, especially since their economies are competetive only in a comperative sense. If they don’t assist their PIIGS’y neighbours, they gamble with other issues. It is possible that the common currency breaks apart in an orgy of political insults and even more economic de-stabilisation. It is also
likely they will have to call in an outside organisation, for example, the International Monetary Fund, to orchestrate a bail-out, in which case the fundamental weakness of the Eurozone experiment becomes blatantly obvious. Nonetheless, the Lisbon Treaty states that a country involved in the Eurozone cannot be excluded, it can only leave voluntarily. This leaves us thinking whether we should keep the ‘’rules of the game’’ even if it endangers the fixity of the entire union.
By Filips Kapustins
The squeak before the slaughter 10
I’M NOT GOING TO VOTE
By Andre Tamm
During the last elections in Estonia, I asked one of my friends who he was going to vote for. He responded quite casually: “I’m not going to vote.” I responded, quite alarmed: “What?!” For the sake of this article, I will call my friend’s decision “the problem”. If you live in a democratic state, then one of your civil rights is the right to vote; if you disown this right, we have a problem. So let’s fix the problem. Easy, isn’t it – the government should organise a campaign to promote political awareness, add more social studies lessons to school curricula and eventually make voting mandatory and abstentions punishable by law. Wait, what? It is generally unclear where the real power borders lay, i.e. how far should the responsibilities of the state go. Should the state be responsible for simply providing its citizens with the right to vote, or is it also responsible for actually getting them to go to the polling booths?
In comparison, the government gives citizens the right to freedom of expression and provides every opportunity to exercise this right, but it does not actively try to make people use this right. Is the situation with voting different, or is it essentially the same? Let’s take another outsider look. Teach For All is a very successful international programme that allows graduates of any subject to teach classes at school. This is a great example of how NGOs can affect an area, in this case, education, which is usually perceived to be the government’s responsibility. According to one view, NGOs are the link between the people and the government, and we simply need get in the habit of using them to fix our problems. The idea that grassroot-
level activity can have an impact on the society is also at the core of the currently ongoing European Year of Volunteering. Taking the role of NGOs into the context of the “problem” at hand, it seems that the line between bottom-up and topdown governing is a difficult one to draw. Should the government be the entertainer of its citizens or are the citizens themselves the ones at fault? In other words - where does the true problem lie?
Latvian Language Limits
By Oscar Haglind
Have you ever been a participant at an EYP Session where suddenly everyone is speaking a language that seems like utter and total gibberish to you? This might be a future situation for lingual minorities in Latvian classrooms. Like Math wasn’t hard enough already.
Publicly funded schools should exclusively have education in Latvian, or so the union of nationalist parties in the Latvian parliament believes. On 11 May the collection of signatures started for the legislation to revise the 112th article of the Latvian Constitution. This states that everyone has the right to education and that the state will ensure that everyone acquires primary and secondary education without charge. The nationalists would like to add “education in the official national language”. This would mean that lingual minorities, such as Russian speakers, in Latvia will be thrown into a school system which is solely in Latvian, a language which they must learn to be able to keep up with their Latvian classmates.
this will not only preserve the national identity among Latvians, but forcing everyone to learn Latvian at a very young age will also drastically reduce any linguistic issues in their future. The collection of signatures did not go as planned, receiving
Like Math wasn’t hard enough already.
The nationalistic union, consisting of All for Latvia, For fatherland and freedom & LNNK in collaboration with the society “Guard the language and Latvia”, claim that 12
only 10 140 signatures out of the 153 232 needed. A short period of time after the Nationalists started the collection of signatures, Russian radicals brought up an idea to have their own collection of signatures. However, this in the opposite purpose to make Russian the second official Latvian language. The Latvian government, and the DROI committee, both have a big decision ahead. To choose between maintaining and rebuilding
a national identity for native Latvians or keep an open and welcoming attitude to their neighbouring countries. But if I know the EYPers right, the DROI committee will, under the supervision of chair and Latvian history student Gundega Elerte, reach a compromise, which will allow Latvians to be nationalistic, but still allow non-Latvian speakers to learn in Latvia as well. And Math will be at least a tiny bit more comprehensible.