With the New Year, Good Reads is back on track and our editors are going to keep on sharing the best online articles that got them thinking about Europe recently. This time around, freshly appointed Chris Ruff will be introducing himself to E&M readers by sharing some reflections on the way we consume news these days and also about the German Pegida movement.


Chris, Heart/Legs editor


Chriss Ruff

2014: a year to forget


Whilst reflecting on 2014 around the dinner table with friends this Christmas, it seemed that none of us could remember a year with quite so many awful things that had happened. ISIS, the Ukraine crisis, Gaza, two (now three) passenger jets dropping from the sky leaving no survivors, terrorist attacks in Pakistan, Australia and elsewhere, schoolgirls captured in Nigeria – the list could go on.


2014 will certainly go down as a grim year for humanity. However, part of this phenomenon of negativity is due to the way modern news is consumed and distributed, lending an immediacy and urgency to current events. News is now omnipresent – available to us in more ways and at more times than ever before. Events are almost impossible to miss. As such, our perceptions about say, air travel, have been negatively influenced by what appears to be frequent crashes, although the data clearly shows that travelling by plane is actually safer than ever.


Yet despite the rolling 24-hour news channels and the pervasive impact of social media, journalism in 2014 has often felt stale or formulaic; perspectives on global crises have seemed like tired re-runs of old arguments, stuck in a by-gone era. It is for this reason that when a piece with genuine insight appears, such as this opinion piece by Jeffrey Sachs, it really makes you sit up and notice. Sachs, a former economic advisor to both the Polish and Russian governments following the end of the Cold War, eloquently describes the West's differing approaches to both countries and how this has had a profound effect on their subsequent development. In short, if the West had chosen to pursue a similarly conciliatory debt strategy with Russia as they did with Poland, the outcome would be very different. Instead, the US and Western Europe's desire to consolidate their victory with punitive measures has led Sachs to compare it with the aftermath of the Treaty of Versailles. The article adds even more, as it is written in first person on the basis of direct experiences.

Friday, 02 January 2015 00:00

Technical problems with Issue 27

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Network problems
 Photo: Jeremiah Roth; Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0


Alas, it seems that even our server is nursing a fairly major New Year's hangover at the moment...

We apologise for the delay in bringing you Issue 27 of the E&M magazine; we are currently experiencing website problems that have prevented us from publishing the new edition on time. We're working on a solution and hope to be able to resume normal service very soon.

In the meantime, why not take a look at our archives and stay tuned to our blog Sixth Sense, which has not been affected by the technical hiccup.

Thank you for your understanding and a happy New Year to all of our readers!

Wednesday, 31 December 2014 00:00

Illuminated Europe

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ETAL logosmall

They say a picture paints a thousand words, so we've set out to discover what photography might be able to tell us about today's Europe and are pleased to announce the winners of our December competition.

Following on from the success of last month's Europe Through a Lens, we decided to go with another light-based theme for December and put out a call for images of "Illuminated Europe". Our readers were more than up to the task, leaving the judges spoilt for choice.

In the midst of a strong field, it was Tobias Melzer who ultimately claimed top honours with Night rider, a vivid moonlit image taken from a roadside in Upper Bavaria. The photo was praised for its depth and geometry, with one judge admitting that he would have probably come up with a similar image, if faced with the same topic. It is not the first time that the Munich-based photographer has impressed our judges: back in August, Tobias won the very first edition of Europe Through a Lens with an incongruous scene from the British summer. This time around, however, his photo was no lucky snapshot, but the result of a long time waiting around in the freezing cold for a car to go past and light up the road.

Romanian revolution
Photo: ahmed bermawy (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The revolution in Bucharest a quarter of a century ago


The final part of our mini-series marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism in many parts of Central and Southeastern Europe takes gives us a Romanian point of view, as we hear from Georgiana Murariu about the revolution of 1989 and the years that followed.

In the months prior to the spectacle that was the run-up to the recent Romanian presidential elections, I was reminded that it is never too late or too repetitive to re-hash and reconsider the profound effects of Ceausescu's regime.

As an increasingly educated and critical layer of youth intelligentsia derides decisions based on anything other than the desire for Europeanness, the use of politically-loaded terminology inevitably results in the creation of arbitrary divisions between different segments of the population. Sure, most of these are aphorisms about what it means to be an old communist crone, nostalgically clinging to the principles of the redistributive state and its overbearing, yet amiable paternal hand, but there is also a lot of rhetoric around corruption and the wish to free ourselves from undesirable spots on annual lists of bafflingly corrupt countries in Europe. All of which is fair, I suppose, or would be, were it not for the fact that we've never given any second thought to whether our condemnation of corruption is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of its manifestation during the late communist era as well as the transitional period after 1989.

Economically and socially, the resulting "grey zones" became less about coping with a seemingly omnipresent government and more about the opportunistic manipulation of old boys' networks and invaluable knowledge to carry on furtively evading tax, whilst promising the people concepts that were once alien to them, like growth and prosperity.

IN -1704 DAYS