Honorable Representatives of the United States Senate,
Our common enemy is too strong to be defeated alone. Covid-19 is a highly infectious virus that triggers symptoms in ca. 10% of infected people that are so serious that they require hospitalisation. Currently, no country on Earth has enough medical supplies, staff or locations to deal with such a high rate of hospitalisation. Hundreds of millions of lives are at risk. The severity and death toll of this global crisis will be a direct result of our ability to keep the number of people in need of medical support at the levels of existing medical resources. These “flattening of the curve”-measures will be intrusive and force all of us to sacrifice and change behaviour. All 27 Member States plus the United Kingdom must fight this crisis as one. Once the situation in the European Union has stabilised all resources and efforts must be turned to the rest of the world.
Monday, January 24, seemed to be unexceptional for many journalists and news readers. Updates on coronavirus continued, and mostly local problems were mentioned across the world. Few have written about London that day; at most in connection with Brexit. Yet one of the most important international hearings for journalists – and freedom of speech – began in Courtroom 2 of the Woolwich Crown Court. The United Kingdom has begun to negotiate if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be extradited to the United States.
A global disease exposes the weaknesses of the world’s dueling powers.
102 years ago the last global pandemic killed about 50 million people. World War II, the deadliest military conflict in history, saw an estimated total of 85 million deaths, about 3% of the 1940 world population. Corona or Covid-19, with a similar death rate of about 2%, is predicted to ‘likely’ become a global pandemic in the next 30 days according to the US Defense Department. The difference between the current Coronavirus and similar outbreaks in the recent past (such as SARS or MERS) is that symptoms kick in typically later and are milder. The incubation time is also longer and some carriers for the virus are infectious, yet are reported to show hardly any symptoms. The death rate is also lower, particularly high with mostly older people and those with weakened immune systems. All of these factors lead to a very infectious virus, if left unchecked. Why does the virus spread so fast both in authoritarian China and increasingly fast in the democratic United States?
The battle around Huawei and 5G isn’t just about one huge technology company and it isn’t just about the infrastructure for the 4th industrial revolution. It is about geopolitics and the battle between the incumbent sole US superpower versus a rising China under the Chinese Communist one-Party dictatorship. Huawei is an extension of the Chinese state. China’s National Intelligence Law, which came into effect in July 2017, stipulates in Article 7 that: “any organization or citizen shall support, assist, and cooperate with state intelligence work according to law.” Combined with Article 14, this support is not voluntary: “state intelligence work organs, when legally carrying forth intelligence work, may demand that concerned organs, organizations, or citizens provide needed support, assistance, and cooperation.”
TheUnited Kingdom is going its own way and leaving the European Union. On thefirst sight, this is not surprising for the world’s formerly largest empire and formerly strongest super power. However, the times since the British global empire have changed dramatically and besides a worldwide web of financial centers, the United Kingdom will be barely able to assert its influence on other countries and country blocks such as the EU-27.
Facebook: “We will remove misleading manipulated media if it meets the following criteria: It has been edited or synthesized – beyond adjustments for clarity or quality – in ways that aren’t apparent to an average person and would likely mislead someone into thinking that a subject of the video said words that they did not actually say. And: It is the product of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merges, replaces or superimposes content onto a video, making it appear to be authentic.
Subject: Call for de-listing organisations such as ‘People in Need’ from the list of ‘Undesirable Organisations’ and to stop Russian repression practices towards civil society.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, is shaking and shaping the online world quite often. However one of his recent attention-grabing steps is more important to our whole society then one might think at first. At the end of October he announced on his Twitter account he’s going to stop all political advertising on his site with a claim: ‘We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,’ and further elaborated on that in a series of replies.
When talking about cyber and hybrid threats, disinformation campaigns or even the impact of artificial intelligence on the future of warfare – in short, my core passion as a politician and human being – one cannot really avoid mentioning the Kremlin’s involvement. Yet a lot of this talk is being done from the distant shelter of Brussels. Which is reasonable on the one hand, as one needs a base of operations, be it for legislation, scrutiny or oversight. However, combining office work with ‘field work’ appeals to me as a more effective approach, so that I won’t get stuck both physically and mentally – within the (in)famous EU bubble. That is why I am writing these words in an airplane seat, heading to Moscow. Why? And how did I prepare in line with my core topics?
On 27th March this year, a Lithuanian court in Vilnius issued its ruling in the so called ‘13th January case’, in which 67 Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian citizens, including former high-level officials of the Soviet Union, were found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their involvement in the Soviet aggression on the 13th January 1991. When Lithuania declared independence on 11th March 1990, the Soviet Union used its military against peaceful independence movement demonstrators. The result was a massacre with 14 deaths and over 800 injured.
Though I am a fairly young and newly elected member of the European Parliament, I didn’t arrive with naive ideas about the legislative work, negotiations and politics. I was prepared to compromise, re-think and prioritize - as long as it was in line with my values. Yet it has still been hard to watch one of the first political steps involving the Parliament: the Council wiping its… with the Spitzenkandidat system and consequently with the Parliament. Whoever Ursula von der Leyen is and how well she will do - none of that mattered during the narrow vote for me. Not in the light of the fact that she found out she is going to be the single most important political person in the EU a <em>week </em>before the election; without ever aspiring to it. It perplexes me even now how few people (in power) were perplexed.