HUNDRED YEAR QUESTIONS FOR EUROPE

HUNDRED YEAR QUESTIONS FOR EUROPE

Over the weekend, two very different centennial celebrations took place in Europe, each highlighting a huge challenge facing the European Union.

In France, dozens of world leaders gathered in and around Paris to commemorate the armistice that ended World War I. There, French President Emmanuel Macron embraced German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a moving gesture of once-improbable historical reconciliation and warned about the dangers of resurgent nationalism. Macron's words were an implicit rebuke to the America First policy of US President Donald Trump who, for his part, did not attend some parts of the weekend's events and sat impassively as Macron spoke.


Meanwhile, across Europe in Poland, some 250,000 people took part in a march through the capital, Warsaw, to mark 100 years of the country's modern independence. The event, tied to far-right organizations, was controversial from the start. After previous Independence Day marches attracted sizable contingents of right-wing extremists and racist groups, Warsaw's liberal city government sought unsuccessfully to ban the event this year. The right-wing Law and Justice party, which governs Poland and has recently clashed with the EU over democratic norms and rules, sponsored its own march along the same route.

In the end, both marches went ahead, with government officials heading an official procession of people chanting patriotic slogans and waving Polish flags, followed by a smaller number of nationalists and far-right extremists setting off flares, chanting extremist slogans, and waving the flags of banned interwar fascist groups (see the photo above, sent to us from the front by filmmakers Mike Tucker and Petra Epperlein).

Taken together, Paris and Warsaw highlight the daunting challenges facing the European Union in the twenty-first century.

In Paris, the tensions with Mr. Trump, and his aloofness from the festivities, nicely encapsulate the EU's main external challenge: like it or not, the continent can no longer depend on the United States as fully and firmly as it once did. President Trump has raised hard questions about the wisdom and benefits of the US continuing to guarantee European security and underpin the conditions for the continent's prosperity.

Meanwhile, in Warsaw, the primary internal challenge for the EU was on full display: a resurgent nationalism that chafes against the rules and shared values of the 28-member bloc. It's no accident that nationalists marching in Warsaw were joined by like-minded groups from Italy and Hungary.

Can pro-EU leaders like Mr. Macron and (during her limited time left in office) Ms. Merkel meet these twin challenges? Or will the EU eventually collapse under their combined weight? As the history commemorated in Paris reminds us: there is nothing inevitable about a Europe that is increasingly integrated, peaceful, and free.

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What is going on in Bosnia with Bosnian Serbs boycotting all major institutions?

Well, it's a reaction against a decision that was taken by the outgoing high representative during his very last days, after 12 years of having done very little in this respect, to have a law banning any denial of Srebrenica and other genocides. But this issue goes to very many other aspects of the Bosnian situation. So, it has created a political crisis that will be somewhat difficult to resolve.

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It's easy to judge the Pompeiians for building a city on the foothills of a volcano, but are we really any smarter today? If you live along the San Andreas fault in San Francisco or Los Angeles, geologists are pretty confident you're going to experience a magnitude 8 (or larger) earthquake in the next 25 years—that's about the same size as the 1906 San Francisco quake that killed an estimated 3,000 people and destroyed nearly 30,000 buildings. Or if you're one of the 9.6 million residents of Jakarta, Indonesia, you might have noticed that parts of the ground are sinking by as much as ten inches a year, with about 40 percent of the city now below sea level.

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Why do (most) world leaders drink together? It can get them to agree on stuff they wouldn't while sober. Booze "helps people get cooperation off the ground, especially in situations where cooperation is challenging," says University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland. Alcohol, he explains, allows you to "see commonalities rather than just pursuing your own interest," which may put teetotaler politicians — like Donald Trump — at a disadvantage. Watch his interview on the next episode of GZERO World. Check local listings to watch on US public television.

In countries with access to COVID vaccines, the main challenge now is to convince those hesitant about the jab to roll up their sleeves, and this has become even more urgent given the spread of the more contagious delta variant. So, where are there more vaccine skeptics, and how do they compare to total COVID deaths per million in each nation? We take a look at a group of large economies where jabs are available, yet (in some cases) not everyone wants one.

Viktor Orbán, Hungary's far-right populist prime minister, likes to shock people. It's part of his political appeal. Orbán has proudly proclaimed that he is an "illiberal" leader," creating a frenzy in Brussels because Hungary is a member of the European Union.

It's been over a decade since the 58-year old, whom some have dubbed the "Trump before Trump" became prime minister. In that time he has, critics say, hollowed out Hungary's governing institutions and eroded the state's democratic characteristics.

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Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

QR codes are everywhere. Are they also tracking my personal data?

Well, a QR code is like a complex barcode that may be on a printed ad or product package for you to scan and access more information. For example, to look at a menu without health risk or for two-factor verification of a bank payment. And now also as an integral part of covid and vaccine registration. QR codes can lead to tracking metadata or personal data. And when your phone scans and takes you to a website, certainly the tracking starts there. Now, one big trap is that people may not distinguish one kind of use of QR codes from another and that they cannot be aware of the risks of sharing their data.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky bits of color from a Games like no other…

Today we've got— the best freakout celebrations!

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