Tuesday, 7 November 2017

From Russia with Love

Despite freezing temperatures in the middle of April, Saint Petersburg is a place to go, at least once in a lifetime. The reminiscences of Soviet communism are impressive and make us travel back in time, the metro experience is a great taste of those idealistic and misunderstood times. While sightseeing through this Russian city, it's impossible not to surrender to the beauty of its architecture, churches and of course the famous Hermitage and the Winter Palace, stormed by the Bolsheviks exactly 100 years ago during the Russian Revolution. So much History is at the core of this city that makes one become introspective and cogitating of what has been and what will be.

Peter the Great

Hermitage, the largest museum in the world founded by Catherine the Great in 1764


Church of the Saviour on Blood

An afternoon in the Museum of Soviet Arcade Games!

Lenin and the House of Soviets @ Moskovskaya 

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyianov 

The House of Soviets

The "Flying Dutchman" Restaurant in Neva River

A walk in the park...

 The St Petersburg Metro is one of the deepest metro systems in the world. The noisy wagons take you back to the 60s

St Isaac's Cathedral, the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city. It is the largest orthodox basilica and the fourth largest cathedral in the world.

Admiralty Building, the former headquarters of the Admiralty Board and the Imperial Russian Navy in St. Petersburg, Russia and the current headquarters of the Russian Navy.

View over the Neva river

Monday, 6 November 2017

EU expects solid progress on Paris Agreement implementation at UN climate conference in Bonn

Photo: Takver

The EU expects this year's UN climate conference (COP23) to reaffirm once again the international community's commitment to stepping up the global response to climate change and achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. Following the entry into force of the historic agreement last year, elaborating its implementing guidelines is now a key focus. Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: “The Paris Agreement has set the direction of travel for the global transition to a modern low-carbon economy. The increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events we are witnessing across the world are a stark reminder of the urgency of the challenges we face. Now is the time to translate ambition into action and speed up implementation. COP23 will be a key moment to ensure that we are on track to meet our first deadline: completing the Paris work programme by 2018.” This year’s Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP23), presided over by Fiji, is taking place from 6-17 November 2017 in Bonn, Germany. The EU expects the conference to demonstrate clear progress on the development of the technical rules and guidelines for implementing the provisions of the Paris Agreement, for example on the transparency framework and the 5-year ambition cycle aimed at helping countries make progressively more ambitious contributions. The work programme is due to be adopted at the 2018 UN climate conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Daphne Carouana Galizia’s death reminds us of the importance of free speech

November 2nd celebrates the International Day to End Impunity, a day that should be highly regarded if one thinks of free speech and on the defense of important values within a democracy.

Just very recently, in October 16, Daphne Carouana Galizia, the journalist who was investigating the Panama Papers - the second history’s biggest data leak after the Paradise Papers - was killed when a bomb exploded inside her car, near to her house in Bidnija, Malta. Investigations are still undergoing as to determine the motives and possible suspects in this horrific crime.

The brave Maltese woman was a prominent journalist and blogger who reportedly assembled more viewers that the whole Maltese media combined.

During her investigation on the Panama Papers, Daphne allegedly found a connection with the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the leader of the ruling Labour party. The 53-year-old journalist alleged that Muscat and his wife were operating an offshore company that received over US$1 million in payments from a Dubai company allegedly owned by Leyla Aliyeva, a daughter of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev. Muscat denied the allegations.

From the Panama Papers to the reportedly massive corruption in the island of Malta, Daphne’s work became very “uncomfortable for those in power”, wrote The Guardian. “Those about whom she has written in the past year range from government ministers to the newly elected leader of the opposition; the characters in her stories included a convicted drug smuggler and a local millionaire who complained after she alleged that he had built a private zoo without planning permission.”

Indeed, she caused the government to call on new elections in June 2017. Though Joseph Muscat’s Labour party ended winning the re-election.

Fuelled with an anti-corruption stance, she continued her quest unfolding her findings on her blog “Running Commentary” where she posted a few moments before she left the house and was killed. On the post, she accuses Keith Schembri, Muscat’s chief of staff of being a “crook” and denying that in court.

The PM Joseph Muscat reacted to her death: “Everyone knows Ms. Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way,” said Muscat who condemned the attack has an “attack on press freedom”.

Daphne’s son, Matthew, also made a public statement on Facebook. He vigorously claimed that his mother was targeted as she attempted to stand in for the prevalence of the rule of law: “My mother was assassinated because she stood between the rule of law and those who sought to violate it, like many strong journalists,” said Matthew, Daphne’s son. “But she was also targeted because she was the only person doing so. This is what happens when the institutions of the state are incapacitated: the last person left standing is often a journalist,” he added.

Daphne Carouana Galizia was buried on November 3rd, in Mosta, near her village, leaving three children and a husband.

In 2017, thirty-two journalists have been killed with a motive confirmed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). If it is confirmed that Galizia was targeted, she would be the first in Europe.