My Story ~ 16. A Love Story

australia-china
“Open your heart and the happiness you deserve will arrive.”

Well, it seems that my going abroad was just to follow the fashion, but actually its roots are back in the beautiful dream that I had been pursuing since I was a child and my inner drive to look beyond the place where I was at that time.

After graduation from college, I left my hometown in the Northeast of China for Shenzhen, a modern city developed from a small fishing village. I was following my boyfriend. I spent nine tortured and struggling years there and grew from a teenager to a mature woman. Since I was not so successful in love, I devoted myself to work. I worked as an English teacher at the Shenzhen Polytechnic for the first four and a half years. Later, I was employed by China Office representing Ballarat University for four and a half years as a co-ordinator of a project of Studying Abroad working at Fuzhou University.

I admit that this transition in work triggered my thoughts of going abroad. I was always restless for quite a while every time groups of students were sent abroad. I was young and there should be opportunities for me to go to see the outside world, which is a wonderful prospect. However, what I lacked was education and qualifications, which I made my priority to overcome. I only had a junior college degree at that time so I pursued college education at the South China Normal College and then an MBA class while I was working at the same time. The classes were taught in English for the MBA, this once again inspired my desire to go to English-speaking countries — to have some real feelings toward the atmosphere of foreign classes and to experience life in foreign countries. The dream of going abroad which seems like the desire of a teenager who wants to meet her Mr. Right had become a rational pursuit of a mature woman.

People often say that Fortune always favors the one who is well-prepared. Well, she knocked on my door when I was preparing and the Fortune that guided my course was an old professor from Ballarat University who had been a loving-teacher to me. At that time, the International Department of Ballarat University was looking for a staff member in charge of the project in China and the requirement was knowing about Chinese education, Australian education, having work experience and equipped with a knowledge of education. The old professor thought I was the perfect person with relevant abilities and language advantages and he encouraged me to apply for it. So I flew to Australia for an interview in Jan. 2008. After several hours’ interview, I was accepted and came to work in Australia in March that year. Read more

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我的故事 ~ 16. 一个爱情故事

australia-china
“敞开你的心扉,
就会得到你应有的幸福。

我的出国赴澳看上去像是赶时髦,其实它根植于我的少女时期就怀抱的美丽梦想以及我身上不安于现状的因子。

大学毕业后,为了追随我的男友义无反顾地离开东北的父老家乡来到南方的深圳-这座从小渔村发展起来的现代城市。这里的9年,是锤炼我的9年,我从一个懵懂少女走向成熟的女性。爱情受挫,反倒磨练了我的意志,我全身心投入工作。前4年半在深圳职业技术学院做英语老师,后4年半受聘于巴拉瑞特大学的中国办事处,做福州大学的留学项目负责人。

这次工作的转换,其实可以说是开启我了的出国之心。将一批批学生送出国的时候,我的心里难免泛起涟漪。我还年轻,要是有机会,我当然也想出去见识外面的世界,外面的世界一定更精彩。但是,我还缺乏资本,于是提升学历成为我第一要务。我当时是大专学历,所以就在工作的同时,读了华南师大的本科,然后在2007年又完成了MBA课程。MBA授课是全英文的集中授课形式,更激发了我要去英语国家的想法,一是感受一下真正在国外课堂学习的氛围,二当然是体验一下国外的生活。出国成为我的梦想,这看似一个怀春少女的玫瑰色之梦,其实是一个成熟女子的理性梦想。

人都说幸运之神会光顾有准备的人。当我为出国之梦做着准备的时候,幸运之神真得来敲门了,而引导这个幸运之神的人便是如我恩师般的人物巴拉瑞特大学校长Kellin Goks教授。当时巴拉瑞特大学国际部正在向全球招聘的负责中国项目的市场工作人员,要求要懂中国的教育,懂澳大利亚的教育,而且具有工作经验,还要教育专业方面的知识。Kellin Goks教授非常认同我的工作能力和语言能力,鼓励我去申请。2008年的一月份,我飞赴澳洲面试,面试完几个小时之后,就得到通知被录取了。于是,当年的三月份,我就顺理成章地来到澳洲工作。

所以,我的赴澳优于那些来此从零开始奋斗的人,因为我是受ECU之聘来此上任工作的,所以就免去许多移民或留学生找工作的苦恼。当然,初来乍到,在一个完全陌生或者说以前只是在文字中有所认识的国度,孤独苦闷也是难免的。但是,我认为自己是心理坚强的女性,是善于调适的。刚开始,我的调适方式是醉心于工作,一是为了忘记自身的孤独,更重要的是要做出成绩得到上司和同事的认可,这样才能站稳脚跟。工作中大部分同事都是友善的、乐于助人的,也有些自以为是、喜欢对我的工作指手画脚的同事,我的处理方式是敞开你的心扉,同他们真诚交流,让他们了解你的为人、理解你的想法、你的态度,自然就会得到他们尊重你的回应与合作。在会议上,你要善于表达自己的计划设想,让人信服;在一对一的谈话时,你要真诚对待对方,让人信任。当工作上顺手了,生活安定下来,交了不少好朋友,也认同澳大利亚人将工作同生活分开的人生态度。这个时候,少女时期的梦想就来敲击自己的心灵深处,在中国没有寻到白马王子,在这个风景如画的异国城市能觅到如意郎君吗?有时候,我会望着如蔚蓝海水般的天鹅河出神,河水有节奏地拍打着沙滩,天鹅双双对对悠然嬉戏,海鸥展翅滑翔在蓝天。我的梦想如同蓝天上的白云那样清晰而飘渺。 Read more

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As Capitalism Fails, We Need A Roadmap To Survive Climate Change

Paavo Järvensivu

As we enter an era of energy transition and the effects of climate change become more dramatic, our need for new forms of economic thinking is becoming increasingly urgent. The existing economic theories and models are clearly ill-equipped to address the intertwined challenges of a massive energy shift and climate change because they are all linked to the era of material abundance and cheap energy resources. The existing economic system has failed and if it continues it will lead to inestimable catastrophic consequences. But what would the policy framework of the much-needed new economics on energy, climate and environment look alike?

C.J. Polychroniou: Dr. Järvensivu, how did your research unit end up producing the background paper for the U.N. Global Sustainable Development Report?
Paavo Järvensivu: BIOS is an independent, multidisciplinary research unit, launched in Helsinki in 2015. Our basic task is to study the effects of environmental and resource factors on Finnish society and develop the anticipatory skills of citizens and decision-makers. To be able to do that, our research, of course, deals with the same issues also globally…. Moreover, we felt that due to the urgency to act on the climate crisis, researchers need to engage much more proactively outside the academic community. We dedicate much of our time on ongoing dialogue with decision-makers, journalists and many others…. There are few [other] research teams that would systematically aim at a comprehensive view of the political, economic and cultural changes caused by mitigating and adapting to climate change.

The paper your research unit produced for the U.N. claims with certainty that we will soon be entering a new energy era. What is this new energy era all about, and how will it replace the capitalism of today, which relies mostly on fossil fuels for supplying the vast majority of our energy needs and, subsequently, for growth?

The question of future energy can be approached as a [carbon] source and [carbon] sink problem. According to some estimates, the depletion of accessible fossil fuels would drive dramatic changes in the human energy system. This is true in a certain time frame, but climate change, or the inability of ecosystems in their current state to handle all the emissions from the excessive use of fossil fuels, gets us there first. Mitigating climate change requires a rapid decarbonization of the energy system — not only electricity generation but also heating/cooling and transportation.
Most likely we need to reduce energy consumption in order to succeed in rapid decarbonization. Replacing fossil fuel infrastructure with low-carbon solutions is such a demanding task physically, financially and organization-wise that the chances for succeeding improve dramatically if we lower overall energy consumption at the same time. This would be in line with also other environmental goals, especially with fostering biodiversity. In practice, this would entail qualitative changes in people’s lives through an emphasis on public transport and walking and biking, and perhaps relaxing on the (very new to humankind) requirement to have the same temperature inside throughout the year.
If the major economies don’t succeed in decarbonization, the global fossil economy is in for a rough ride. As an example, in a world with escalating geopolitical tensions — for instance, due to climate refugees — the position of fossil fuel-importing countries is weakened. Those countries — such as Finland, where I’m from — would be better off with less dependence on fossil fuels. Acting on this proactively, investing a lot on low-carbon infrastructure, should be on the high priority list of current and next governments. Read more

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Anna Eijsbouts ~ Voting In The EU

A short film explaining democracy in the EU and the European Parliament and how your vote moves it.
Written by European Constitutional Law Professor Tom Eijsbouts, animated & directed by Anna Eijsbouts.

This film has been made out of necessity and has been funded via Kickstarter.
Credits:
Voice – Gabriella Schmidt
Sound Design – Rik Kooijman
Additional Post Production – Kasper Werther
Thanks to Lot Rossmark, Marlyn Spaaij, Dorien Suntjens, Amber Verstegen, Tünde Vollenbroek, Jamie K. Bolio
Executive Producers – Jan Eijsbouts, Dolf Huijgers, Pieter Jan Kuiper, Laurence Chazournes de Boisson, Kris Spinhoven

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Freedom On The Net 2018

Fake news, data collection, and the challenge to democracy

Governments around the world are tightening control over citizens’ data and using claims of “fake news” to suppress dissent, eroding trust in the internet as well as the foundations of democracy, according to Freedom on the Net 2018.
At the same time, the regime in China has become more brazen in providing like-minded governments with technology and training that enable them to control their own citizens.
“Democracies are struggling in the digital age, while China is exporting its model of censorship and surveillance to control information both inside and outside its borders,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House.

These trends led global internet freedom to decline for the eighth consecutive year in 2018.
“This year has proved that the internet can be used to disrupt democracies as surely as it can destabilize dictatorships,” said Adrian Shahbaz, Freedom House’s research director for technology and democracy. “Online propaganda and disinformation have increasingly poisoned the digital sphere, while the unbridled collection of personal data is breaking down traditional notions of privacy.”

Key findings from Freedom on the Net 2018:
– Declines outnumber gains for the eighth consecutive year. Out of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net, 26 experienced a deterioration in internet freedom. Almost half of all declines were related to elections.
– China trains the world in digital authoritarianism: Chinese officials held trainings and seminars on new media or information management with representatives from 36 out of the 65 countries assessed by Freedom on the Net.
– Internet freedom declined in the United States.
– Citing fake news, governments curbed online dissent: At least 17 countries approved or proposed laws that would restrict online media in the name of fighting “fake news” and online manipulation.
– Authorities demand control over personal data: Governments in 18 countries increased surveillance, often eschewing independent oversight and weakening encryption in order to gain unfettered access to data.

Read more – Full Report: https://freedomhouse.org/freedom-net-2018

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Laat terroristen niet bepalen wie onze helden zijn

Bart Top

Bomaanslagen op moskeeën in Nieuw Zeeland worden beantwoord met zelfdodingsmissies in Sri Lanka en aanslagen op een synagoge in de Verenigde Staten. Extremisten richten zich op religieuze symbolen van de veronderstelde vijand. In 2015 waarschuwde Bart Top dat ‘cartoonwedstrijden’ in diezelfde richting gaan. Reden om een geactualiseerde versie van het essay nogmaals uit te brengen.

Wie weet nog dat er een tijd was dat de VVD zich hard maakte voor de emancipatie van de islam in Europa, een tijd waarin uitgerekend Frits Bolkestein zich profileerde met zijn rol in het comité van aanbeveling bij een leerstoel ‘liberale islam’ voor de Parijse hoogleraar Islamitische Filosofie Mohammed Arkoun, zoals Bolkestein ook het boek Moslims in de polder publiceerde waarin hij in gesprek ging met een range aan moslims en dat volgens de VVD-leider een ‘boeiend perspectief’ bood ‘op de positie van de islam in de polder die Nederland heet’. Na 9/11, Fortuyn, Verdonk wil niemand er meer van weten. Zich inlaten met de islam, dat past niet meer bij het beeld dat de VVD nu neerzet.

De verschuiving binnen de VVD is ook bij links te zien. De agenda van partijen als PvdA en Groenlinks bestond vanaf de jaren negentig tot 2008 zo ongeveer uit het zo ongemerkt mogelijk opschuiven naar de rechts-liberale agenda, pas onlangs is daarin een kentering gaande. Van de vrijheid, gelijkheid en broederschap bleef twee decennia lang alleen de vrijheid op het banier staan. Dertig jaar nadat in Frankrijk de bekende leuze Touche pas á mon pote opkwam, kleurt de leus Je suis Charlie het (virtuele) landschap. Waar de jongerenbeweging toen schreeuwde om integratie en het aanpakken van de banlieues sluiten de rijen zich nu om de vrijheid van meningsuiting. Waar toen het accent lag op gelijkheid en het tegengaan van discriminatie is nu bij sterk toegenomen maatschappelijke ongelijkheid vrijheid het parool.

Vrijheid van meningsuiting en persvrijheid zijn op zich uiteraard geen rechtse onderwerpen. Integendeel. Het zijn moeizaam door burgers op overheden bevochten rechten voor wie misstanden aan de kaak wil stellen. Zij worden pas ‘rechts’ als het concept vrijheid in een dominante verhouding gebruikt wordt om de vrijheid van anderen te beperken. Is dat nu het geval? Op voorhand is vast te stellen dat de discussie over de vrijheid van meningsuiting op dit moment geen vrijblijvende, filosofische kwestie is. Zij spitst zich in een heel specifieke context toe op het recht het afbeeldingstaboe in de islam te schenden. Het schijnt op dit moment de ultieme en enige lakmoesproef om die vrijheid van meningsuiting te toetsen.

Dit discours over de islam, de vrijheid van meningsuiting en het recht op kwetsen begon voor ons in Nederland met de zogenaamde Rushie-affaire, die geruime tijd na het publiceren van de Duivelsverzen losbarstte. Rushdie zelf benadrukte altijd dat hij nooit de intentie had om moslims te kwetsen en distantieerde zich niet van de islam. Rushdie was en is eerder een multiculturalist die werelden confronteert zonder ze boven elkaar te stellen.
Read more

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Colin Marshall ~ Roald Dahl, Who Lost His Daughter To Measles, Writes A Heartbreaking Letter About Vaccinations: “It Is Almost A Crime To Allow Your Child To Go Unimmunised”

Generations of us know Roald Dahl as, first and foremost, the author of popular children’s novels like The BFGThe WitchesCharlie and the Chocolate Factory (that book of the “subversive” lost chapter), and James and the Giant Peach. We remember reading those with great delight, and some of us even made it into the rumored literary territory of his “stories for grown-ups.” But few of us, at least if we grew up in the past few decades, will have familiarized ourselves with all the purposes to which Dahl put his pen. Like many fine writers, Dahl always drew something from his personal experience, and few personal experiences could have had as much impact as the sudden death of his measles-stricken seven-year-old daughter Olivia in 1962. A chapter of Donald Sturrock’s biography Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl, excerpted at The Telegraph, tells of both the event itself and Dahl’s stoic, writerly (according to some, perhaps too stoic and too writerly) way of handling it.

But good did come out of Dahl’s response to the tragedy. In 1986, he wrote a leaflet for the Sandwell Health Authority entitled Measles: A Dangerous Illness, which tells Olivia’s story and provides a swift and well-supported argument for universal vaccination against the disease:

Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.

Read morehttp://www.openculture.com/roald-dahl-it-really-is-almost-a-crime

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Defining Islamophobia And Its Socio-Political Applications In The Light Of The Charlie Hebdo Attacks In Paris

Ills.: UK Human Rights Blog

Abstract
This study concentrates on the definition of Islamophobia based on an etymological overview of the term and application of it in political discourse in Europe, following the 2015 Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris (encompassing the attacks on the magazine’s office, Jewish supermarket and police officers). Firstly, emphasizing the influential Runnymede Report on Islamophobia (1997), an extensive research on the application and definition of the term are presented. Secondly, a political discourse analyses (PDA) method is applied to official responses to the Charlie Hebdo attacks by leading politicians from twelve European countries. Results of this analytical framework are discussed in light of contemporary definitions of Islamophobia with particular attention given to the definition by Runnymede Trust. The study culminates with an elaborated discussion and presumptive solutions to the growing ambiguity and dispute concerning the phenomenon of Islamophobia and its definition.

Key words: Islamophobia, Runnymede Report, Charlie Hebdo attacks, European Union, populism

Historical perspective
The phenomenon of Islamophobia, considered as fear, dislike or prejudice against Islam and its followers, is arguably as long as Islam itself. In the contemporary world, a pivotal moment in the study of Islamophobia as a phenomenon and its definition was the publication of a report titled: Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All (Runnymede Trust, 1997, hereafter: The RT Report) by the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, established by the Runnymede Trust. In a pioneering study the independent race, ethnic and religious equality think-tank attempted at the identification of causes and reasons for the phenomenon of Islamophobia as well as defining it. According to the Runnymede Trust, Islamophobia is: ‘… a shorthand way of referring to dread or hatred of Islam – and, therefore to fear or dislike of all or most Muslims’ (The RT Report, 1). And further: ‘the term Islamophobia refers to unfounded hostility towards Islam. It refers also to the practical consequences of such hostility in unfair discrimination against Muslim individuals and communities, and to the exclusion of Muslims from mainstream political and social affairs (ibid.; 4).’ The report reached much further than a mere identification of the terminology and consequently the definition along with its characteristics (outlined below) remain the most quoted and influential study on Islamophobia as a phenomenon and from an etymological perspective. In an attempt at breaking down the causes and reasons for the ‘hatred’, ‘hostility’ and ‘discrimination’ towards Islam the authors made an essential distinction between ‘legitimate criticism’ and ‘unfounded prejudice and hostility’ towards Muslims (The RT Report; 4). Consequently, the commission proposed closed and open views towards Islam and its believers, illustrating two essentialised approaches a non-Muslim can have towards the Islamic religion and its worshippers. ‘Phobic dread of Islam is the recurring characteristic of closed views. [While] legitimate disagreement and criticism, as also appreciation and respect, are aspects of open views’ (The RT Report; 4). Identification of the two contrastive views was based on acknowledging eight main features of each of them. The eight features of the closed/open views were recognized as: monolithic/diverse; separate/interacting; inferior/different; enemy/partner; manipulative/sincere; criticism of West rejected/considered; discrimination defended/criticized; Islamophobia seen as natural/problematic (The RT Report, p. 5). Read more

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