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Lessons World Must Learn from Iceland Tackling its Financial Crisis

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Iceland Bank Protests
Photo by Jed
People around the world are awakening, understanding their rights and realizing their powers, and so we are seeing a number of protests around the world against their government. The way people are heading to establish a more advanced level of democracy, our mainstream media still stays back, not so democratic. 
When there were protests in Middle East, all the news media were active in covering the events, but when we saw protests in Iceland, Greece and now in Turkey, the media did not show that activeness. Since it is the fight for an advance level of democracy which demands for even more rights to the citizen, other governments are scared that this could encourage their own citizen as well.

Today what Turkey is demanding is an example of advance democratic rights and participation in development. Now people are able to tell their government what they want in their city and what not. Eventually government should work for their citizen and make them happy, but in Turkey government wants to make a shopping mall at the place of the Gezi park against the will of its citizen. People who were protecting the park launched a strong protest. However, government did not understand the demands of the people and instead started using force, tear gas, and in fact they declared that  every protester will be treated by the police as a terrorist. Read More

What Iceland has done is so unorthodox for the management gurus around the world with textbook knowledge. It has gone against the belief of total capitalism, which is considered as the only successful way for an economy to burgeon by some. In 1991 when communist socialist economy fell down in Soviet Union, the capitalist world cherished. But today we are seeing that even capitalism is not the fool proof solution. Almost all the countries in Europe today are facing the similar problems: bankruptcy, austerity, etc. and the government should learn from what Iceland did.
In 2008 Iceland experienced third largest financial meltdown ever in the history. Iceland’s bank defaulted on $85billion. Icesave, an online savings bank operating in Iceland, the UK and Netherlands went bankrupt. The UK and Netherlands governments stepped in and bailed out their citizen who had their savings in the Icelandic bank. In total both the government spent nearly £3.5billion which they asked Iceland government to compensate. The ratio of debt to income surged to 240%. Soon the people in Iceland realized that the faith which they had put in their government resulted into nothing. Iceland Government came up with the plan that every citizen of Iceland will contribute to the payment of the debt to the UK and Netherlands. In a country of some 317,000 people, each person had to pay nearly 21000 euros monthly for the next fifteen years at the interest rate of 5.5%.
The people went out to the streets to protest. They dressed in orange and made a line in front of the police. Protesters made annoying sounds with kitchen utensils and stood really close to the guards protecting the parliament building and started at their eyes.
The protests resulted into the resigning of the government, bankers were jailed and banks were nationalized! Out of some 500 candidates 25 people were chosen without any political affiliation to remodel the constitution from the scratch replacing the old one which is said to be similar to the Dutch constitution. 1500 people were invited to participate in the assembly out of which 1200 were selected at random and 300 were representatives of companies, institutions etc. They belonged to all age groups from 18 to 88 spanning all six constituencies in Iceland. The new government decided that no one should stay in the parliament longer than eight years. 
Iceland’s new challenge was compensating Britain and Netherlands for the money which they had used to bail out their citizen having accounts in Icelandic bank. It followed a referendum two times in Iceland which rejected the repayment plan both the times. Dissatisfied UK and Netherlands government approached the European court suing Iceland. 
The success came to Iceland this year in January when European court cleared the Icelandic government closing the case in the favour of Iceland. The ruling halted the attempts made by the UK and Netherlands to get all their money back from Icelandic government. It was the victory for Icelandic people because they believed in any case, it was fundamentally unfair because the UK and Dutch governments had awarded compensation to their citizen far in excess of the levels required by European legislation.
As the new system in Iceland took over, the debt exceeding 110% of the home values was forgiven. The country eased the debt burden for over 25% of the population. The orthodox management experts were amused by what Iceland was doing, as it was going the unconventional way. It was actually helping its own people instead of banks like how other capitalist economies do. Critiques warned that Iceland is doing a big mistake, and their claims got solidified when in 2009 Iceland’s economy shrank by 6.7%. However as the time passed by and the government became stable, in 2010 its economy saw a rise in 2.9% and in 2011 it further experienced expansion by 2.4%.
Today Iceland is doing better than the rest of the European Union. It came out in the conclusion that helping your citizen and making them happy really works. Iceland doesn’t want to tie itself to Euro or join European Union now where governments cut to the people and give to the banks. In fact Iceland nationalized their banks. Iceland says if we were tied to Euro we would just have to succumb to the laws of Germany and France. Membership in the European Union imposes a lot of regulations, budgetary costs, and financial oversight that even the UK is considering the leaving option. 
In Summary Iceland took the following revolutionary steps
  1. Resignation of the government, imprisoning the responsible parties
  2. Nationalization of the banks.
  3. Referendum rejecting the repayment plan.
  4. Appointing common people to rewrite the constitution. 
Such a revolutionary change has changed the scenario in Iceland. The country’s economic situation was worse than Greece, but today its economy is stronger than any other European country which has seen financial crisis in the recent years. 
The country is now implementing Participatory Democracy in Reykjavik as a model city where people decide where the development funds should go. The capital city of Reykjavik has also launched a direct democracy platform, where any citizen can drop few suggestions in a community forum about the things they want to be done in the city. The city council choses top five suggestions and process them in a month before taking the next five. Iceland is considering this system to be implemented in parliament as well. 
Now the thing is what we can learn from Iceland tackling the financial bubble bursts. There is a lot to learn from Iceland for other countries in the world. Greece, which is undergoing a financial crisis and Turkey and Cyprus which are considering to join European Union must try something that should help their citizen first and then the banks or the demands of the EU. Turkish government, which is in a standstill due to #OccupyGezi protests, should understand that the people want the Gezi Park and it can’t force a museum or a shopping mall against the will of their own citizen. Instead of listening to the people the government is using tear gas against their own people which is banned in conventional warfare.
Similarly India, which is known for upholding human rights in the world the government treated the protesters who were doing yoga by caning and making them run away. Several massive protests in India against corruption and for bringing back the black money stashed in foreign countries failed and the government which now is facing multiple corruption charges is still enjoying its power as no one can shake their position even an inch. People must rise and governments must take lessons.

During all these events which happened in Iceland, international media’s role was negligible. Media should be more democratic, open and uncontrolled. Paid media showed us everything from Libya, but nothing from Iceland. Since what people did in Iceland can shake many corrupt governments around the world.

Control Your Money or Your Money Will Control You Change your attitude toward debt. Every time you use credit for a purchase think,”Debt is slavery; I am making myself a slave.– unknown

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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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Environment

All Steam Ahead as Europe Goes Green

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Red, amber, green: and Europe is off on its big green venture. Yep, it’s true, Europe is finally on the right track in regards to future-proofing against climate change. To see just how it is doing this and what it is doing in regards to this, make sure to read on.

The abolition of fossil fuels by 2050

Some of Europe’s biggest countries are seeking to go fossil fuel free by 2050, and it’s brilliant. Denmark, a country widely regarded as being a leader in the struggle for a green future, is one such country seeking to do this. Yes, it might be ambitious. And yes, Danish officials openly admit that it is an ambitious venture. But, this old Nordic country is going full steam ahead with its ‘Energy Strategy 2050’ enterprise anyway in the hopes that within 32 years the whole country will be completely dependant on things that do not hurt our world. In fact, Denmark is even seeking to go one step further and go completely cashless. Well done, Denmark!

Cities are building green infrastructures

It appears that many European cities have seen the light in regards to what they need to do to save our planet and are now building green infrastructures to hold themselves up in the future. Yep, many cities around this famous old continent are changing the habit of a lifetime and going against a grain that has been in place for thousands upon thousands of years by swapping out their old, harmful infrastructures and ushering in new, safer ones to replace them. Bratislava, Slovakia is one such example: it has had a complete overhaul of its transport system and only runs low-emission buses, tree planting has become a serious occupation, roofs around the city have been made green and rainwater retention facilities have popped up everywhere. Yep, the Slovakian capital really has built a green infrastructure, despite a tight budget, and many other European cities are following suit.

Many big cities are clambering for green funding

Speaking of tight budgets, there seemingly is one across the whole of Europe when it comes to going green because many cities within the continent are having to clamber for funding in regards to it. But, thankfully, having to do all of this isn’t stopping these cities from doing so and going as green as they can. Yep, cities across the European continent are using a combination of EEA grants, municipal funding, crowdfunding and green bonds in order to go green: Copenhagen has done so and used its funding to upgrade is floodwater management and lighting systems to make them more eco-friendly, Paris has done so and used its funding to plant in excess of 20,000 trees and Essen, Germany has done so and used its funding to be named European Green Capital for 2017.

So, as you can see, the historic old continent of Europe is more than willing to embrace the future and, more specifically, the future needs of our planet. Let’s just hope that the rest of the world and its leaders *cough* Trump *cough* follow suit before it’s all too late.

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Europe

Unforgettable trip in Malaga, Spain

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Malaga Spain

flickr/benidormone

If you are wondering what is the best option to spend your next holidays the answer you are looking for is Marbella. The Spanish Costa del Sol, with its 320 sunny days and an average temperature of 19 degrees throughout the whole year, has everything you could ever need to have the most spectacular holidays.

Marbella is a destiny that has much to offer, it’s where sun, beach, party and luxury meet to give you the best experiences. If you want your Marbella holidays to be unforgettable you can’t miss these activities.

Sun, Sea and Beach Parties in Malaga

Yacht charter in Malaga:  If you are in Costa del Sol you can’t miss the experience of renting a boat to enjoy the bay, from motorboats to luxury yachts. The sea is the perfect way to spend the day. There are many options to choose from and packs to meet your needs.

Party is a synonym of Marbella but there is nothing like a Costa del Sol boat party to enjoy with your friends and have the time of your life.

Beach day: No matter what time of the year you visit Marbella you can always count on a beach day. One of the most attractive features of Costa del Sol is its amazing beaches, awarded with the blue flag, which represent the gold standard for hygiene and public facilities, you can have a great day in one of its many beaches weather is having a drink at one of the typical chiringuitos or practicing different water sports like paddle surf, windsurf or diving in the Mediterranean the beaches in Costa del Sol are always a great option.

Party in Puerto Banus: from the famous Nikki Beach club to the many nightclubs in Marbella, there is no excuse not to party. And if you want to have a different experience you can always spice things up with a special guest, in Marbella, cheeky butler parties are always a fun way to spend the night or to celebrate a bachelorette party. It’s a different experience and you don’t have to worry about anything except enjoying yourself.

Cultural Options in Malaga

Enjoy the historic centre: If you are looking for a more relaxing way to spend your time, Marbella’s old town is an excellent option for you. Get lost in the city and discover all the magical places this typical Andalusian town has to offer.

From Dalí’s art display to its many restaurants there are many ways you can make the most of your time in Costa del Sol. Visit Marbella’s many beautiful squares, and its Alameda park or even take a quick field trip to Torremolinos. Whatever you choose Costa del Sol will never let you down.

Sports in Malaga

Practice your swing: Costa del Sol, also known as Costa del Golf has more than 70 golf courses almost all of them located next to the ocean which adds a beautiful scenery while you practice that swing.

These and many more are the activities are waiting for you to discover, so don’t wait any longer and visit Costa del Sol

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Europe

UK Attempts To Bypass European Commission On Brexit Blocked By Brussels

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Brexit European Union

Via geographos

As the UK and EU draw deeper and deeper into uncharted waters, Brexit negotiations are becoming increasingly erratic. As negotiators from both states met this week to discuss items such as the Northern Ireland Border, the rights of EU citizens currently residing in the UK and the notorious ‘divorce bill’, there have been numerous reports of frustration within the British camp.

Frustration

Recently it was revealed that Prime Minister Theresa May, believing talks to be at an impasse, intended to go over the heads of the EU’s Brexit negotiators and appeal directly to world leaders such as Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. When questioned about this, however, Brussels officials close to the negotiations intimated that Mrs May would not be able to circumvent the negotiations process.

The officials pointed out that both French and German leaders had agreed prior to the talks that negotiations would come “as a single package” where “individual items cannot be settled separately” and that no member state would abstain from negotiations in favour of individual agreements.

One year on…

It has been over a year now since the UK referendum in which the country voted (at a rate of 52% to 48%) to leave the European Union in an unprecedented political and economic chain of events, the repercussions of which will take years to fully realise but which the world glibly knows as Brexit. It’s a small name for such a political leviathan. Many of the world’s leading bankers and economists still aren’t sure what to make of. Recently CEO Lloyds Bank Antonio Horta-Osorio (who has been lauded for restoring the bank’s profits to pre-financial crisis levels) expressed doubt and uncertainty over the long term economic effects of Brexit. It’s somewhat telling that former Prime Minister David Cameron resigned shortly after the vote, claiming that his involvement in the ‘Remain’ campaign put him at odds with the will of the people but it’s possible that he had the prescience to realise that he had no hope of taming this wily and unpredictable beast. One year on, the beast only seems to have become further enraged by the negotiating process.

Difficult negotiations

Theresa May has gone into Brexit negotiations with some questionably aggressive negotiating tactics. The first round of talks were mired by her strangely audacious assertion that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. The frustration has clearly been felt on both sides with chief negotiator Michel Barnier urging Mrs May to begin negotiating “seriously”. The French government also demonstrated an unwillingness to circumvent negotiations earlier this week, stating that it “fully supports, on the substance as well as on the method, Michel Barnier’s negotiating mandate” and asserting that claims that Mrs May can somehow bypass the procedure “are founded on absolutely nothing and do not reflect reality”. Brexit Minister David Davis, however, retains an optimistic tone, stating;

“Our goal remains the same: we want to agree a deal that works in the best interests for both the European Union and the United Kingdom and people and businesses right across Europe. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to work once more…”.

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