Sören Stapel

Links: European floods, Middle East, NSA, Game of Thrones

Flood disaster in Central Europe

Central Europe has to bear with a lot of water as the rivers Danube, Elbe, Saale, Inn, Mulde, and several more tributaries are swollen up to the upper limit. The video* above shows dyke watches in Central Germany (in the city of Schönebeck). That’s how pretty much every place around these rivers looks like while the dams are about to burst – and if they have burst, it’s just worse. Railways hat to be closed and thousands of people are evacuated from these masses of waters. While in some places the clearing work has started by now, the worst is yet to come for Northern Germany and Hungary. The Danube river alone affects 10 countries.

This has happened before, of course, but those record surges are unknown of and they happen at the same time in several countries across Europe (for instance, Germany, the Czeach Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary are flood-affected). Some people link the floods to consequences of climate change and sealed surfaces. I am wondering just why the dyke building has not advanced as much as it should have after the 2002 and 2005 floods in Germany. And, what about transnational cooperation in river management / flood control / disaster management? Has anyone come across some piece that is taking up the coordination between e.g. Czech and German officials?

* The video is from a small local newspaper in Saxony-Anhalt and I wanted to promote it here.

Middle East: Turkey, Syria and Egypt

But also Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Edogan is in deep water since the unrest erupted last week and continues to do so. Erdogan told supporters that the “protests that are bordering on illegality must come to an end as of now.” Nevertheless, thousands of people were massing in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. Again, The police again used tear gas and water cannons against peaceful demonstrations. Turkish democrats and liberals side with the protesters.

Concerning Syria, both French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius as well as United Nations human rights investigators have no doubt that Syrian government forces and rebels had used sarin gas and other chemical weapons. These claims put Obama in a tough spot. Afshon Ostovar and Will McCants have published a report on Why Syria’s armed opposition has failed to unify. Others are speculating about a worst-case outcome in Syria.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian Court sentenced 43 non-profit workers to prison in a case against foreign-funded pro-democracy groups.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

You have probably come across news of the NSA PRISM leak / whistleblower / traitor who has revealed his identity. My twitter feed literally exploded on Sunday. I don’t think much of his intentions are very clear yet: Why would he reveal his identity? Why did he move to Hong Kong? Why now?

While some media still try to grasp his intentions and to reveal information about the person Edward Snowden, some other have a closer look at the NSA PRISM program as such by looking at the dirty secrets of Washington or by defending the PRISM program. Based on Bayesian assumptions, one can assess how likely the NSA is to catch a terrorist.

Also, the internet memes are growing in numbers from “Yes, we scan” to the Obama is checking your email tumblr and the NSA surveillance told through classis children’s books.

Game of Thrones 3rd season

On a not so serious note, Dan Drezner provides a recap of the third season of Game of Thrones and I am still impressed by the lightsaber fight of Eddard Stark and Jaime Lannister.

 

 

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