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Is FLNG The Future For Offshore Gas?

September 19th, 2016 4:25pm Posted In: Natural Gas News, LNG, Featured Articles, Expert Views, Infrastructure, Competition, Supply/Demand, Investments, Natural Gas News Africa, Natural Gas News Europe, Africa, Europe, Asia, Natural Gas News Asia

The low price environment is weighing heavily on the floating gas liquefaction industry. Key issues are the evolution of global FLNG and the real costs.

The floating LNG market may have a promising future as Petronas Satu, now on station offshore Sarawak, approaches its start date.

But new FLNG deployment will probably occur more slowly than anticipated a few years ago thanks to the prolonged slump in the oil and gas industry and massive cuts in new investments. Any new large, greenfield investments, including FLNG, are under very strict critical review for cost levels, risks and economic returns.

LNG price impact

The real problem is not FLNG per se but low oil, gas and LNG prices and the slew of new capacity: there are 145mn metric tons/year liquefaction capacity coming into the market between 2016 and 2021, mostly during 2017 and 2018.

This is at a time when over the last five years annual LNG demand in Asia has been going down, primarily in Japan and South Korea, faster than demand in India has been rising. Chinese LNG demand also went down in 2015, after years of growth. 

Charles Ellinas

You can read the full article in Issue 3 of Natural Gas World Magazine. Out Wednesday September 21. Subscribe today. 


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Bank, EC Condemn Ukraine Economy Ministry

September 17th, 2016 3:45pm Posted In: Pipelines, Natural Gas News, News By Country, Ukraine, Security of Supply, Energy Union, Infrastructure, Corporate, Corporate governance, Import/Export, Political, Ministries, Natural Gas News Europe, EU

Ukraine’s economy ministry has taken direct control of the national pipeline operator UkrTransGaz, it emerged this week initially from media reports, by amending the charter of the sole shareholder, Naftogaz Ukrainy.

Naftogaz Ukrainy said in a statement dated September 16 that according to its corporate governance action plan, the economy ministry should have developed and published its ownership policy a while ago. This policy would serve as guideline for its supervisory board. Instead, the ministry has taken measures give it control over the pipeline company.

“The decision may also significantly complicate further negotiations of Naftogaz with its western partners who do not see the logic behind this step,? said Naftogaz’ chief commercial officer, Yuriy Vitrenko.

A major lender, the publicly-funded European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Energy Community, a group which comprises the European Union and member states including Ukraine, also condemned the ministry’s action.

The Energy Community said September 17 that the move was not in line with the July 1 resolution on unbundling, nor was there any warning it would come. An earlier resolution envisaged that a new transmission system operator would be established under the control of the energy ministry to gradually take over Ukrtransgaz? activities.

“By contrast, control by the same public body ? the ministry of economic development and trade ? over both the transmission system operator and Naftogaz? gas production and supply activities violates the unbundling provisions applicable under Energy Community law,” it said. 

The secretariat calls upon the Ukrainian authorities to “fully and swiftly implement the Resolution on Unbundling and follow OECD rules relating to corporate governance in the public sector, as agreed also with international donors. The failure to do so may cause enforcement action by the secretariat, jeopardise Naftogaz?s ongoing arbitration cases and endanger the role of Ukraine as a gas transit country.”

The EBRD said in an email to NGW September 16 that it was looking into this and “if the development is confirmed, this is a very serious matter. We do expect that our partners will honour their commitments and continue building Naftogaz into an example of corporate governance reform.” The EBRD lends Ukraine money to tender for gas from buyers from all over Europe. In its statement, Naftogaz said the implementation of its corporate governance plan was a prerequisite for a $300mn EBRD loan to buy gas.

Naftogaz Ukrainy is suing Gazprom over a ship-or-pay contract. The unbundling of UkrTransGaz was intended to happen after that case had been settled. Gazprom is counter-suing Naftogaz on alleged breach of its take-or-pay commitments.

 

William Powell


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EU preparing meeting with Russia on Bulgaria gas hub ? report

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The European Commission is working on preparations to host a Bulgaria-Russia-EU meeting to discuss the proposed gas hub near the Bulgarian port of Varna, Bulgarian news website Mediapool.bg reported on September 19, quoting Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev.

Donchev said that the meeting, which could be held before the end of November, could provide legal clarity on the issue of Russian gas deliveries to the planned hub.

Bulgaria has been assiduously courting Russia as a potential supplier for the hub, but Moscow has thus far rebuffed all advances, saying that it would require ?ironclad? guarantees from the European Commission in order to commit to the project.

Russian president Vladimir Putin and officials at state-owned gas company Gazprom have repeatedly said that they wanted to avoid a repeat of the events that led to the cancellation of the 63 billion cubic metres South Stream gas pipeline.

For the full story, please click here.

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FDI in Bulgaria in January-July 2016 was 987.3M euro

Photo: Miroslav Sári?ka/sxc.hu

Foreign direct investment in Bulgaria in the first seven months of 2016 stood at 987.3 million euro, the equivalent of 2.2 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), statistics from the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) showed on September 16. In the same period of 2015, FDI was 1.16 billion euro, but the original amount reported by BNB last year was 907.3 million euro, which was revised upward later.

Investment in equity, including in the real estate sector, stood at 210.8 million euro (compared to 1.01 billion euro in the first seven months of 2015) and re-invested earnings accounted for 376.4 million euro (versus 502 million euro a year earlier), according to preliminary data.

Receipts from real estate investments by foreign companies totalled 51.6 million euro, compared to 59 million euro during the same period of 2015.

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(Photo: Miroslav Sári?ka/sxc.hu)

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Refugee crisis: Bulgaria, the dead-end road

refugeeshrmine2

Bulgaria is a square in a sad, dangerous and deadly game, the winners of which have to get from A to B, which is almost a mission impossible at this stage. Getting from Syria, Afghanistan or even Iraq into Turkey, already requires luck and money.

Then, the next big hurdle appears in any refugee?s sight: the Bulgarian border. Macedonia was easy a year ago, but the tiny country is not an option anymore. So, from the perspective of a refugee, who wants security, a job and a functioning social welfare system, the next step would be to surmount several hurdles at and behind the southern Bulgarian border:

The fence:

A rather modest border fence was erected, along part of the border. It is incomplete, for now.

To continue reading, please visit Foreigners and Friends Magazine.

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MUFON to rebrand

I found this story? interesting funny, well, not sure. What do you think?

MUFON ? motivated by increasing interest in UFOs, company orders rebrand

mufon-logoThe Mutual UFO Network, the largest UFO investigation squad in the US and also the largest amateur anomalous research and investigation group possibly in the world with thousands of volunteers, is looking to modernize. They have hired a marketing agency to update their look, rebrand and kickoff a new national member recruitment drive.

MUFON is undoubtedly busy. They receive reports of strange things in the sky, there is NO shortage of that. Besides, military and government agencies will almost never investigate citizen reports of UFOs and yet there are more things in the skies these days than ever before. MUFON claims to conduct scientific investigation but, frankly, there is little science in it at all. UFOs are ridiculously difficult to investigate because they are almost always only witness accounts of things in the sky, moving fast, possibly across long distance, without size or scale to use as reference. They almost never leave physical traces and are difficult to capture on video or in photographs.

UFOs have been studied to death for decades and we still have no good idea of what they are ? mainly because they have multiple and varied explanations and their image changes with changing times. One could argue that MUFON is not in any way scientific since they do not have a seat at the table of mainstream science discussions and their major cases have been discredited. There is no progress in this field. Yet, people still see UFOs, and they always will. Amateur groups like MUFON perform a public service in giving worried witnesses a place to call to report their event and speak to a sympathetic person about it. Also, their is no reason why they can?t do something with the data they collect. I?d support that initiative.

While MUFON members are often asked to talk about strange sightings on sensationalist TV shows, a reality TV show about UFO hunters, Chasing UFOs, was a dud, cancelled after one season on Nat Geo Channel in 2012. UFO chasing just didn?t make good television. The director of MUFON, Jan Harzon, refers to their work as ?the real X-files?. I would quibble with such a distinction as MUFON are not FBI agents and the X-files is FICTION. The term is a means to jazz up the job. MUFON has in the past few years faced serious criticism that their focus has drifted far from the idea of nuts and bolts UFO investigation into bizarre conspiracy and exopolitics talk. Their idea of ?scientific? researchers appears to be people who are not scientists or propose fantastic, anti-science tales. For a good review of MUFONs recent shakeups, see this post on UFOTrail. Hmm, I suppose this does call for professional help with rebranding. They need it. I?m curious to see the result.

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The Science of Going Viral

WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? WHO-WHO-WHO-WHO-WHO? WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? WHO-WHO-WHO-WHO-WHO?

If you?ve ever heard the Baha Men?s 2000 hit ?Who Let the Dogs Out,? you probably have also experienced its somewhat-annoying-but-very-catchy hook being stuck in your head for several hours.

As you went about your day quietly humming it, perhaps someone else heard you and complained minutes later that you?d gotten the tune stuck in their head. The song?s hook seems to have the ability to jump from one brain to another. And perhaps, to jump from the web browser you are using right now to your brain. In fact, you may be singing the hook to yourself right now.

Something similar happens on the internet when things go viral?seeming to follow no rhyme or reason, people are compelled to like, share, retweet or participate in things online.

For example, Grumpy Cat?s photo was shared so many times online that it went on to receive the ?single greatest internet achievement of the year? in 2013. The owner of Grumpy Cat (whose real name is Tardar Sauce) has said she did not know the cat?s photo, originally posted to Reddit, would be anything special.

Out of the blue, some social media challenges take off to such an extent that people seem powerless to ignore them. In 2014, more than 3 million people mentioned and shared #IceBucketChallenge videos in less than three weeks. After going viral, the challenge raised more than US$100 million for the ALS Association.

In other instances, however, digital media languishes. Funny cat photos and #XYZChallenges go ignored, unshared, and without retweets.

Why, and how, are we compelled to repeat and share certain cultural elements like songs, videos, words and pictures? Is it just the luck of the draw and the pity of internet strangers? The reason may have less to do with random chance and more to do with a controversial field called memetics, which focuses on how little bits of culture spread among us.

As the director of Drake University Law School?s Intellectual Property Law Center, I?ve studied memetics and its relationship to viral media. It?s hard to ignore the connection between memetics and the question of what makes certain media get shared and repeated millions of times. Companies and individuals would be well-served to understand whether there is actually a science to going viral and how to use that science in campaigns.

Idea of ?memes? is based on genes

The term ?memetics? was first proposed by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his popular 1976 book ?The Selfish Gene.? He offered a theory regarding how cultural information evolves and is transmitted from person to person.

In the way a gene is a discrete packet of hereditary information, the idea is that a meme is a similar packet of cultural information. According to Dawkins, when one person imitates another, a meme is passed to the imitator, similar to the way blue eyes are passed from parents to children through genes.

Memetics borrows from the theory of Darwinian evolution. It suggests that memes compete, reproduce and evolve just as genes do. Only the strongest survive. So memes fiercely vie for space and advantages in our brains and behaviors. The ones that succeed through widespread imitation have best evolved for repetition and communication. A meme is not controllable by any one individual?many people can simultaneously serve as hosts for it.

It can be difficult to further explain what might fall under the heading of ?meme.? Commonly, however, scientists note a meme may be a phrase, catchy jingle, or behavior. Dawkins hesitated to strictly define the term, but he noted that tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, and ways of making pots or building arches could all be memes. Memetics suggests that memes have existed for as long as human beings have been on the planet.

One common illustration is the spoked wheel meme. According to philosopher Daniel C. Dennett:

A wagon with spoked wheels carries not only grain or freight from place to place; it carries the brilliant idea of a wagon with spoked wheels from mind to mind.

The first person whose brain transported the spoked wheel meme builds one spoke-wheeled wagon. Others will see this first wagon, replicate the same meme, and continue to build more wagons until there are hundreds, thousands, or millions of wagons with spoked wheels. In the earliest days of human existence, such a meme could replicate quickly in a universe where alternatives were few and far between.

Memetics is about more than just what makes a thing popular. The strongest memes?those that replicate in the most minds?are the ones responsible for creating human culture.

Enter the internet

Today, the internet meme (what most people now just call a meme) is a piece of media that is copied and quickly spread online. One of the first uses of the internet meme idea arose in 1994, when Mike Godwin, an American attorney and internet law expert, used the word ?meme? to characterize the rapid spread of ideas online. He had noticed that, in disparate newsgroups and virtual communities, certain posters were labeled as ?similar to the Nazis? or ?Hitler-like? when they made unpopular comments. Godwin dubbed this the Nazi-comparison meme. It would pop up again and again, in different kinds of discussions with posters from around the world, and Godwin marveled at the meme?s ?peculiar resilience.?

More than 20 years later, the word ?meme? has become a regular part of our lexicon, and has been used to describe everything from the Ermahgerd Girl to Crying Jordan to Gangnam Style.

In today?s world, any one meme has lots of competition. Americans spend, on average, 11 hours per day interacting with digital media. Australians spend 10 hours per day on internet-connected devices. Latin Americans spend more than 12 hours consuming some sort of media daily.

Around the world, people constantly receive thousands of photos, videos and other messages. Determining which of these items captures the most attention could translate into significant advantages for digital content creators.

Manipulating memes to go viral?

The internet meme and the scientific meme are not identical. The internet meme is typically deliberately altered by human ingenuity, while the scientific meme (invented before the internet became a thing) involves random change and accurate copying. In addition, internet memes are traceable through their presence on social media, while scientific memes are (at least right now), untraceable because they have no physical form or footprint. Dawkins, however, has stated that the internet meme and the scientific meme are clearly related and connected.

What causes one meme to replicate more successfully than another? Some researchers say that memes develop characteristics called ?Good Tricks? to provide them with competitive advantages, including:

  1. being genuinely useful to a human host;
  2. being easily imitated by human brains; and
  3. answering questions that the human brain finds of interest.

First, if a meme is genuinely useful to humans, it is more likely to spread. Spoked-wheel wagons will replicate quickly because early humans need to transport lots of freight easily. Second, memes that are easy to copy have a competitive advantage over those that aren?t?a catchy hook like ?WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? is easier to replicate than the lines to U2?s ?Numb? (called one of the toughest pop songs to understand). Third, memes that answer pressing questions are likely to replicate. Peruse any bookstore aisle and you will find numerous books about finding your purpose, figuring out the meaning of life, or losing weight quickly and effectively?all topics of immense interest to many people.

Memetics suggests that there are real benefits to pairing a strong meme (using Dawkins? original definition) with digital and other content. If there is a scientific explanation for strong replication, marketing and advertising strategies coupled with strong memes can unlock the share-and-repeat secrets of viral media.

The answer to such secrets may be found in songs like ?WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? WHO-WHO-WHO-WHO-WHO?? Are you humming it yet?

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Hope dashed for those who believed in demon fairies

A creature promoted as being a ?demon fairy? or ?winged nightmare? by those who thought it matched a description in Revelations, has been revealed as a hoax.

alien-fairy-real

Synchronicity. Or something. Coincidences can seem very strange some times. Earlier today, I received an inquiry from Dr. Michael Heiser asking if I knew of anyone who had looked into this monstrous object since it reeks of a hoax of the likes we?ve seen before. I hadn?t seen this one. I did my typical Googling and inquired from others who might know more about it including the Group of Fort on FB, my crowd-sourcing means of choice to get good info on Fortean topics. Within hours I had the answer that this was revealed to be a hoax. Except, the exposé had just been posted yesterday on YouTube and posted on the researcher?s page today.

The story goes back three years and involves notorious hoaxer, Jaime Mausson from Mexico. Known as Mexico?s foremost ufologist, he?s been involved in hoax alien photos, the Roswell slides, the Metepec creature and more. In fact, you can pretty much guarantee that whatever he claims is the real deal is a total fake. He claims he?s the one who gets duped and that he has scientific evidence and documentation of all these things, but they never pan out and are often easily unmasked not long after. Is he gullible or fraudulent? Does it matter?

Back in July, 2016, SkyWatch TV, a religious-themed media outlet, featured researchers Richard Shaw and L.A. (Lynn) Marzulli who flew to Mexico several years ago to see this thing, preserved in liquid. They revealed it in Watchers #10, saying that based on X-rays and local stories, they believe it is a ?real creature?. Watchers is a series of documentaries put out by Shaw and Marzulli based on their idea that UFOs are related to fallen angels, the Watchers, come to earth. Marzulli, author of Nephilim Hybrids and books about other fringe ideas like this, presented the info on the creature to a UFO conference and in other outlets to promote the Watchers X DVD. Shaw and Marzulli explain in this clip why they felt it was probably a real thing and noticed it eerily resembled the creatures described in Revelations 9: 7-10, a herald for coming End Times ? it looked like a locust, face of man, wings, tails with stingers.

And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

Or, they were evil fairies. Regardless, it gave them the creeps. They had X-rays done to reveal some internal structure that looked like a skeleton but also spherical beads that were concluded to be birdshot used to kill the creature. They were adamant that this was too elaborate to have been hoaxed. They presented the evidence to three veterinarians (who remained anonymous) that (they say) said it was real. Dr. Ricardo Rangel insisted DNA testing showed it was 98.5% human. Check out Jason Colavito?s blog from July 2016 when this news broke for more of the story. It?s obviously full of holes.

Jumping to yesterday, when this video was posted to SkyWatchTV?s channel and linked today on Marzulli?s blog, here is the story of the hoax reveal:

The researchers had paid $5,000 to get expert opinions on the creature. Marzulli insists that the three veterinarians were fooled so he was not gullible. Jaime Mausson had reportedly paid $10,000 for the creature. After examining the specimen outside the liquid for a while, the skin dried out revealing wood, glue, and plastic that a taxidermist had used to construct the thing. After hearing that the creature?s reality fell apart, Mausson still insisted ?It?s gotta be real!? Marzulli said he then reached out to zoologists via email who quickly ascertained the X-rays showed it was a hoax using some animal parts.

Well, we have to appreciate that Marzulli readily admitted they?d been taken. He insists he didn?t mean to mislead anyone. But?

Why did he go forward with such incredible assertions without checking with zoologists that so readily saw through it FIRST? Why did he put it on his DVD before thorough peer review? He claims that experts regularly refuse to touch this stuff because it?s ?woo-woo?, which is FALSE. And he still talks as if Mausson is respectable!

Marzulli remains blinded by cognitive dissonance because he is very much committed to the ideas that provide him with a livelihood but have no basis in nature, reality or what we already know to be true.

Dr. Heiser has written a post about the incident today. Head on over and read his version of the events that have transpired over the past few months. Marzulli had chastised him for being skeptical of the creature back in August:

The point of wanting the ?fairy? specimen tested under transparent peer review is to make sure it isn?t an example of this (anything look familiar?) X-rays don?t establish what material something is made of. Lots of material will show up on an X-ray. Sincere researchers have been duped before. I don?t want that to happen to Lynn or anyone else. If insisting on transparency with this sort of thing draws abuse for me, so be it. Let me go on record now as saying that I believe real scientific testing will show the specimen is not an unknown life form.

And, of course, he was right, concluding ?Jaime Maussan should not be trusted. Ever.? Heiser also notes that all involved didn?t do enough work up front, and that peer-review before going public is essential.

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Derek Gilbert of Skywatch TV talks to L.A. Marzulli who reveals the fairy creature was a fake.

Marzulli says he learned his lesson. I doubt it? Anyway, he still has high hopes for the Paracas skull.

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Ahead of post-Brexit summit, France and Germany call for unity

merkel-and-hollande-crop

On the eve of a key European Union summit in Bratislava, French and German leaders are calling for unity and a clear roadmap for a post-Brexit EU that is struggling with migration, insecurity and growing public disenchantment with Brussels.

?We need to be lucid about Europe?s situation,? said President Francois Hollande, outlining EU priorities of security, jobs, economic growth and shared values and warning the block risks a crisis ?of its very existence and foundation.?

The call for closing ranks was echoed Thursday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a joint press conference in Paris, who said EU leaders must show ?we are determined to react together to the weaknesses, to the tasks we face.?

The two European heavyweights met hours before talks Friday in Slovakia, which currently hosts the rotating EU presidency. Absent on the invitation list is Britain, whose June vote to exit the EU has triggered deep soul searching about the union?s relevance and future.

Whether the discussions that begin with a dinner on Thursday will achieve any concrete results is unclear. Some of the most critical issues, such as migration and how to handle the British departure, are tricky and divisive and are likely to get short shrift in a broader search for unity, experts say.

?It?s not a usual summit, and it can?t be one dealing with business-as-usual or focus too much on Brexit,? says analyst Yann-Sven Rittelmeyer, of the Brussels-based European Policy Center. ?It needs to propose something else for the EU and its future.?

?If the European Union does not undertake and effective relaunch within the next few months, it will move towards irreversible decline,? warned former Italian prime minister Enrico Letta in an opinion published by the Chatham House think tank.

Describing the bloc as moving toward the Bratislava summit ?in the dark and with our headlights off,? he added, ?the reaction must be rapid and courageous.?

Whether Bratislava will deliver on those expectations is uncertain, given the rifts among member states, particularly over how to handle the migrant crisis. Earlier this week, Luxembourg?s foreign minister suggested Hungary should be suspended or even expelled from the block for hard-line immigration policies that undermined EU values.

?You have some governments, particularly in Central European countries like Hungary, who are really trying to take advantage of Brexit to say the EU really needs to get out of our business, or we?ll go the same way as the British,? says Ian Bond, foreign policy director of the London-based Center for European Reform. ?And I think that?s quite dangerous.?

Defense and security cooperation is expected to top Friday?s summit agenda, including proposals to establish a joint military headquarters, presumably in Brussels. While calls for closer EU defense cooperation are not new, Britain has long been a skeptic.

With London heading for the exit, the remaining defense heavyweights France and Germany have taken up the banner once again, amid shared worries about terror at home and instability in places like Africa and the Middle East. The two released a proposal this week calling for more joint spending and sharing of military equipment in areas like satellite surveillance and transportation.

EU Pushes for Closer Cooperation on Defense

On Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker endorsed the push, saying closer defense cooperation could save member states billions of dollars. In a key speech outlining the block?s priorities, he also described an EU force that ?should be in complement to NATO.?

?One advantage of the British leaving the EU is they won?t be able to block sensible changes in that area,? said analyst Bond, describing cooperation in areas like military procurement to avoid duplication, but dismissing suggestions of an eventual EU army.

?This is more about national forces working together more effectively, less duplication, more sensible distribution of resources,? he added.

But some eastern European countries are reportedly underwhelmed at prospects for closer defense, with skeptics wary about undermining NATO.

?France and Germany know they will meet this kind of resistance,? analyst Rittelmeyer said. ?That?s why the proposal mentions working with only some member states going forward, a coalition of the willing.?

Besides closer defense cooperation, EU leaders are also expected to discuss proposals Friday for strengthening EU external borders and boosting jobs, investments and the digital economy.

Yet the summit?s main thrust, some analysts say, is to send a message of unity and relevance to disaffected citizens at a time when anti-EU parties are surging in the polls ahead of key elections next year.

That includes in Germany, where Merkel recently took a beating in home state elections, amid disgruntlement over her immigration policies. In France, Hollande faces dismal reelection prospects next April, with the far right, anti-EU National Front party widely expected to win the first round of voting.

Yet mainstream European leaders are also part of the EU?s problem, analyst Bond says.

?The temptation to say ?I have done everything right and the EU has done everything wrong? seems to be almost irresistible among national politicians,? he says. ?They have to stop using the EU as the place to blame when they have to make difficult and painful decisions.?

Source: VOANews.com

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The Myth of the ?Race Card?

Two essential quotes come up often among the black women in my professional cohort. The first is one that we attribute to Zora Neale Hurston: ?If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it.? The other is from Audre Lorde?s The Cancer Journals: ?Your silence will not protect you.? We trade these quotes to nudge one another toward self-advocacy in situations when speaking up for ourselves might be difficult?such as in work or social settings where we are in a minority as women of color and our experiences of sexism or racism may be minimized or disbelieved, if we are vocal about them.

Even with Hurston or Lorde to embolden us, lodging a public complaint as a black woman can still be a vulnerable undertaking?especially when we?re asked to justify why we?re offended or to explain how we can be so sure that the offense we felt had discriminatory underpinnings. So I wasn?t surprised that when singer Solange Knowles live-tweeted about an incident she described as racist at a Kraftwerk concert last week, commenters inundated her Twitter account with allegations that her description of events was racist.

?Let me tell you about why black girls / women are so angry,? Knowles began, and recounted being told by four older white women behind her, ?You need to sit down,? as she danced with her family. When she didn?t oblige, ?They proceeded to throw something at my back.? She ended her account with, ?But in this moment, I?m just going to share my experience? So that maybe someone will understand, why many of us don?t feel safe in white spaces. We don?t ?bring the drama….? Fix yourself.?

Knowles later posted an essay, ?And Do You Belong? I Do,? on her website that explores the insidious nature of confrontations with white people, in which the tone of voice they?re using feels as contentious?or more so?than the words they?re using, and how difficult it is to parse their actions and racial motivations:

You don?t feel that most of the people in these incidents do not like black people, but simply are a product of their white supremacy and are exercising it on you without caution, care, or thought. Many times the tone just simply says, ?I do not feel you belong here.?

Knowles?s critics were myriad. Some suggested Knowles avoid predominantly white environments, while others lobbed racist insults.

Many others accused her of ?playing the race card,? implying that they remained unconvinced of racist intent in the Kraftwerk incident. The term ?race card? is always evoked as an accusation, implying that black people are playing a game when we mention race in conversation. As the metaphor goes, the race card is a supposed trump card that?s used to shut down a conversation, to win some sort of rhetorical victory. But when you?re black in America, race is not just one card in a hand that can be played or not; it?s an integral part of our identity, as inextricable as our nationality, if not more so. So when a white person antagonizes us, we cannot ignore the fact of our skin color or the way our country has treated people of that skin color since its inception.

When a black person believes her experience?a white person yelling and throwing things at them, or using a derisive tone?has racist implications, she shouldn?t have to convince others of this. If there is any convincing to be done, the onus should be on the attacker, not the assaulted. By accusing Knowles of racism, or of ?pulling the race card,? critics are not only erasing the original offense; they?re attempting to victimize the victim yet again, by accusing her of wrongdoing.

This is often how such incidents unfold?but not always. Another recent conflict shows there?s hope yet for how we talk about race in America.

In a Snapchat video last week, actress Zendaya Coleman also spoke out about an incident she perceived to be racist at a Vons grocery store in Los Angeles. While attempting to buy gift cards with a credit card, a transaction for which the store has a $200 limit, Coleman said the cashier was reluctant to help her and her friend and ?threw her wallet at her? after explaining the gift card transaction limit. ?I don?t think she was a huge fan of our skin tone,? Coleman mused.

In its response, Von?s begins by explaining its gift card transaction limit. The company could?ve then insisted that the service denial had nothing to do with race. The only accounts of the incident, after all, were Zendaya?s and the cashier?s. It would?ve been easy to fall back on the claim that race didn?t factor into this exchange at all, and that this was simply a matter of store policy. Instead, the company wrote this:

We respect Zendaya?s voice in the community and similarly are committed to diversity and inclusion. Moreover, we understand that race is a sensitive issue in America and view this experience as a reminder that every interaction is an opportunity to treat each customer as we ourselves would like to be treated.

Vons, a California chain, had sound business reasons for responding this way. The company defused the conflict?the negative headlines, that is?and emerged with its reputation intact. But Vons did more than merely save face. It illustrated the most productive approach to discussing racial offense with the offended: acknowledging the validity of Zendaya?s experience, both as as a customer and as a black woman in America. Accepting the word of a slighted black customer may seem like a small start to some, a tentative first step on a long road. But it?s a lot closer to the conversation that America should be having than accusations about a phantom ?race card.?

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