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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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THIS IS MY 1ST POST IN THE SLOVAK LANGUAGE, ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT MY SLOVAK BLOG AT HNONLINE.SK: http://moje.hnonline.sk/node/11709

V druhej krajine za Atlantikom v Severnej Amerike, na ktorú sa občas zabúda (ÁNO, je to Kanada) sa schyľuje k voľbám. Francúzski Kanaďania pôjdu k urnám 4. Septembra po veľmi rušnej jari a rušnom lete.

V súčasnosti je pozornosť veľkej časti sveta upretá na USA a na ich prezidenské voľby. Kampaň je v plnom prúde a Republikánska Strana na čele s ich kandidátom Mittom Romneym mala minulý týždeň veľký zjazd alebo konvenciu (Convention).

Nie všetci ale vedia, že neďaleko na sever od USA a blízko New Yorku alebo Washingtonu DC sa schyľuje k iným voľbám.

Francúzsky hovoriaca kanadská provincia Québec sa chystá k voľbám. Na tom by nebolo nič dôležité alebo zaujímavé, ak by však tentokrát neľlo trochu aj o budúcnosť celej Kanady. Voľby sú zaujímavé aj kvôli tomu, čo ich vyvolalo a aké sú hlavné volebné témy a otázky.

Voľby boli vyhlásené súčasným premiérom Jean Charest-om v stredu 1. Augusta. Zhodou okolností sa v ten istý deň v noci v najväčšom meste tejto provincie, v meste Montréal, (ktoré mnohí v SR poznajú vďaka klubu NHL Montréal Canadiens) konal nočný protest (začal 20h30 a skončil po polnoci), presnejšie pochod, veľmi hlučný pochod proti vláde toho istého premiéra.

Tento nočný protest, ktorého organizátormi sú väčšinou študenti sa v noci 1. Augusta konal už po 100. krát.

Áno, čítate správne! Už po 100-tý krát! Noc 1. Augusta znamenala 100 dní odkedy študenti v meste Montréal a v celej provincii Québec chodili do ulíc každú noc a protestovali. Proti čomu presne?

Celé to začalo vo Februári 2012 keď niekoľko študentských organizácií z mnohých fakúlt univerzít v provincii Québec začali protestovať. Najprv šlo o jednoduchý protest proti plánu vlády zvýčiť školné v univerzitách, ktoré miestna provinčná vláda dotuje.

Vačšina študentov majú ľavicové tendencie a sú prísne proti zvyšovaniu poplatkov, ktoré podľa nich znižujú prístup ku vzdelaniu, ktoré oni vidia ako spoločenské dobro. Québec má zo všetkých provincií v Kanade najnižšie školné, tým aj najdostupnejšie vzdelanie a na to sú študenti a mnohí obyvatelia hrdí.

Plán vlády zvýšiť poplatky tak vyvolal nevôľu nielen študentov ale aj širšej populácie. K študentom sa pridali odbory a mnohí iní ľudia, ktorí sú buď nespokojní so súčasnou vládou alebo sú proti zvyšovaniu školných poplatkov.

To čo začalo ako protest študentov prerástlo na celospoločenské hnutie, ktoré otriaslo nielen Québec-om ale celou Kanadou. V mesiacoch Apríl a Máj 2012 dosiahli nepokoje najvyššiu úroveň a násilnosti, boje s políciou, zatknutia, policajné sirény, helikoptéry a rozbité výklady boli na dennom poriadku. Po tom čo vláda so čtudentmi odmietala rokovať alebo zrušila rokovania, ktoré prebiehali a po tom čo premiér študentov otvorene urážal začali koncom Apríla nočné pochody, ktoré sa konali každú noc.

Monhí študenti prirovnávali toto hnutie k hnutiam v arabskom svete, k Arabskej jari, a dávali mu názvy ako “Printemps Québécois” (Quebecká Jar), “Printemps Érable” (Javorová Jar) či “Printemps Étudiant” (Študenstká Jar).

Jean Charest sa snažil situáciu otočiť tým, že prijal drsný až nedemokratiský zákon, ktorý silno obmedzoval akúkoľvek demončtráciu či protest. Polícia ho však niekdy nevyužila a mnohé supiny a organizácie obhajujúce ľudské a občianske práva odsúdili tento zákon.

Neuspel, stal sa totiž úplný opak. Namiesto upokojenia sa všetko zhoršilo. To čo bolo iba niekoľko zatknutí za noc a niekoľko malých bitiek s políciou a zopár rozbitých výkladov za zmenilo na ešte hlučnejšie nočné pochody, ešte násilnejšie bitky s políciou, horiace autá, ešte viac rozbitých výkladov, niekoľko zranených a oveľa viac zatknutých.

Veľká Cena Kanady Formuly 1 v Júni 2012 v Montréali bola takmer narušná protestujúcimi.

Hnutie bolo jednoznačne ľavicové, až protikapitalistické, protivládne, akési pokračovanie hnutia Occupy, proti korupcii súčasnej vlády (Premiér Jean Charest je obvinený z viacerých korupčných afér a jeho ministri si vraj podávajú ruku s Mafiou, jeho vláda dlho odmietala akékoľvek vyšetrovanie), ženské a iné sociálne hnutia, environmentálne hnutia ale aj to čo mnohí dúfali, že v provincii Québec pomaly umiera: separatizmus alebo ako to volajú oni: “Souverainisme” (Suverénizmus).

Nakoniec premiér Jean Charest aby mal akúkoľvek šancu byť zvolený vyhlásil voľby na 4. Septembra. Toto hnutie, ktoré prešlo provinciou je vraj rovnako veľké ak nie vačšie ako v 60. rokoch keď podobné hnutia prechádzali celým západným svetom.

Súčasné voľby odrážajú všetko proti čomu alebo za čo toto hnutie demonštrovalo. Jedna politická strana PQ (Parti Québecois – separatisti), sa pridalo na stranu študentov a celého hnutia. Očividne z toho dosť aj profitovali, kedže sú na prvom mieste s 32% hlasov. NIe sú jedinou stranou, ktorá hlási odlúčenie od Kanady ale dve strany PLQ, kam patrí Jean Charest a CAQ, ktoré sú za zachovanie provincie Québec v Kanade majú spolu takmer 50% hlasov.

Mnohé návrhy a vyjadrenia PQ a ich predsedkyne Pauline Marois znepokojujú anglicky hovoriacih Kanaďanov alebo tzv. bilinguálnych v provincii Québec a mnoho Kanadských denníkov a politikov sa vyjadrujú znepokojene. PQ však ubezpečuje, že nemá žiadnu radikálnu agendu a bude brániť práva jazykových menšín v provincii (kam patrí aj angličtina).

Predsedkyňa Pauline Marois mala v meste Montréal príhovor na predvolebnom zjazde jej strany PQ, kde pôsobila veľmi sebavedome a vyhlásila všetkých Québecois aby ju volili. Keďže sa v súčasnosti v meste Montréal zdržujem tak som sa tam išiel pozrieť a vidieť a počuť to celé bolo zaujímavé. Ja ju volám “Iron Lady z Québecu”.

Jej prejav bol v rovnakom čase keď Americký Republikánsky kandidát Mitt Romney podával svoj vlastný prejav v meste Tampa na Floride.

Pre mnoho Kanadských novinárov a aj novinárov v meste Montréal sú tieto voľby síce len provinčné ale sú osudné pre celú Kanadu.

Ako častokrát v minulosti aj teraz je provincia Québec rozhodujúca pre osud celej Kanady alebo aspoň pre celkovú politickú situáciu a stabilitu v nej.

Poznámka: Čo najskôr budem môcť pridám linky a zaujímavé zdroje a tiež fotografie z demončtrácií v meste Montréal. Tiež sa budm snažiť napísať článok o výsledku volieb, o vzťahoch medzi provinciou Québec a zvyškom Kanady a o výsledku volieb.

Dúfam, že vás tento môj článok zaujal a poskytol vám nové informácie najmä o Kanade a provincii Québec.

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My First post of this blog this year, that I wrote back in June, was called “Why isn’t New York City the capital of the World” in which I described the importance of Washington DC. I was inspired to write that post because I spent my past summer (10 Weeks to be exact) doing an internship in Washington DC through an internship programme provided by The Washington Center. Part of this program is not only  a professional internship but also an academic course and many workshops and other assignments depending on the specific programme. In this post I would like to describe that experience.

I can say that this experience was an amazing one from every possible perspective and I highly recommend it. I don’t really want to write about what The Washington Center (TWC) is or what it does. (If you click on the link in the name you will find out for yourself.) I can, however, say one thing and that it is one of the best ways to start, not only, your professional career but also your possible academic one or improve your already rich professional or academic experience. I recommend it to all kinds of students: freshmen, juniors, seniors or post-graduates.

I highly recommend  it, especially, if you are into International Affairs. If you are an International Studies student or you have an interest in International Politics or International Economics, Washington DC is definitely the place to be. Washington DC is where all the lobbies of the world are. Every single country in the world has an embassy in Washington DC and some of the most famous US but also world-renowned think-tanks have an office in Washington DC.

One of the best parts of my DC experience is the fact that I could meet people from all over the world who work in all sorts of fields. One will certainly meet people from their respective field of study or field of interest. This is very important in order to become more well read in a specific field. A very good bonus is that I also made lots of new friends at these events.

All these friends together with the ones I met through TWC are at same time useful contacts for my future career and endeavours. In the future I might cooperate  with these people. I might be able to help them out and move the world forward and also vice versa.

Yes, Networking was a very important part of my experience. I went to many public events organized by various think-tanks and NGOs. All these public lectures are a great source of new insight and knowledge. Most of them have free food (which is a crucial piece of information for any intern). Most importantly all these events are attended by people from various backgrounds who all have the same interest. This is an excellent opportunity to network. Networking was great for me. I made many useful contacts for the future.

Another very important part of my Washington DC experience was the professional experience itself and all other related training. Being present in the professional environment surely helped me. I now know what to expect if I ever come and work in Washington DC. I got the taste of what it feels like to be a professional and what is expected of me. I became familiar with all the difficulties and challenges of these kinds of jobs.  At my internship site I tried to do my best to help my employers as much as possible. I also tried to learn as much as was possible at my internship site.

Another thing that I enjoyed very much was the feeling of just being there in Washington DC. If you are working there and not just visiting as a tourist you feel like you are being part of something big. Washington DC has also a great, what I call,  “Intern Culture”. Interns in Washington DC are being very much appreciated. There are many events and special discounts for interns all over the town. In retrospect I know I could have tried to find out more about these sorts of events. But I did go to quite a few. I attended a special Networking Event for Interns call DC Intern Mixer. I took advantage of the DC Interns Rock Week and I also attended the Politico Summer School.

Yes this experience was difficult and it was very difficult to keep a balance between work, discovering DC, having fun and sleeping. But I learnt a lot and through this difficult experience I also became more aware of who I was. I discovered my limits, I discovered my potentials. I found out in what things I am good at and in what things do I still need improvement. TWC experience also required us to write reflections and do various assignments, which helped me a lot too.

On top of all of that Washington DC is a great city do visit and discover. The museums, the sites, the restaurants and the bars are incredible. There is always something to do in spare time.

For any future TWC interns or any who are reading this post and are participating at some TWC programme now, I have a couple of advice and some suggestions. First of all, don’t be afraid or stressed in any way. Never think about reasons why you should not succeed in your internship or in your programme. Think about, and only about, how you can accomplish your goals while doing the internship. My biggest recommendation would be to network a lot. DO attend the events in DC that you want to attend! (Of course as long as it is not taking too much time from your internship site.) DO go to all the different workshops organized by TWC! Do not hesitate to ask questions and learn at those workshops. DO try to learn as much as you can and achieve as much as possible! DO Try to do your Best at your internship site! DO Discover the city as much as you can! In short use up 100% of the potential of the great city that you are in.

In the end, what you all should do basically, and it is also what I did, is the following: “Do Walk The Extra Mile“. Although I know that after already one week in DC you are probably sick of hearing that.

Washington DC Rocks and Good Luck

PS: Link to an Audio by The Economist about Doing Business in Washington DC <a href=”http://video.economist.com/linking/index.jsp?skin=oneclip&ehv=http://audiovideo.economist.com/&fr_story=8081354e1c434197de931f97a9f6c2af1150f589&rf=ev&hl=true” target=”_blank”>

And the Link to DC LinkTank, a website which provides free information about various events in Washington DC.

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Has anyone of  you ever thought which city on this planet could be considered to be the capital of the world?

The first thing that probably comes to everyone’s mind is New York City. It is not a bad guess. New York City is a great metropolis located in the world’s most influential country. It is a place where all the cultures meet and where some of the most famous cultural events of this planet happen. The United Nations Headquarters is there and the Wall Street which is almost the beating heart of the world’s financial markets is also in New York City.

New York could most certainly be characterized as the cultural or even the financial capital of the world. But which city is the political one? Judging by the importance of decisions and the scale of their impact on the planet it is a city which actually is not that far from New York City. It is the capital of the United States of America, Washington D.C.

Think about it for a minute! Washington D.C. is the capital of the world’s most powerful nation. The White House, The US Congress, The US Department of State, The US Department of Commerce and The Pentagon are all located in this city not far from one another.

The decisions taken in the White House by the most powerful person on Earth have a tremendous effect and can directly orindirectly affect the lives of all the people on this planet. On the other end of the Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., the American Congress takes decisions which determine the direction in which the USA is going. This again has a tremendous effect on the world. Only few blocks from the White House is the US Department of State which executes the US Foreign Policy. This policy affects International Relations and influences the foreign policies of every other country on Earth. The US Department of Commerce, the US Federal Reserve and the US Treasury make the decisions that influence the US Economy and the trade that the USA does with the rest of the world. These decisions have a vast influence on the World Economy and thus the livelihoods of almost every single person on Earth. Finally, located on the other side of the Potomac River south of downtown Washington D.C. is the Pentagon which directs the world’s most powerful army and is able to deploy it anywhere on Earth. This probably affects people’s lives over the rest of the Earth the most.

So in brief, just few blocks from one another in the same city are the places where some of most influential decisions on this planet are taken. This truly qualifies Washington D.C. as the capital of the World.

This idea was first given to me after reading a book written by Zbigniew Brzezinski called The Choice, published in 2003. (It is a great book and I highly recommend it.)

Some could of course argue that there are many other places on Earth such as New York with the UN, Brussels in Europe, Moscow or Beijing in which decisions taken there have a great effect. Certainly. But none of those cities can compare itself to Washington D.C. No other place on Earth has so many agencies so close in one place with influences of such a vast scale.

Moreover, Washington D.C. is also the place where some of the greatest universities focusing on International Relations, Political Science and Diplomacy are located. According to Brzezinski being a graduate of one them is a must in order to be successful in International Politics on the highest level.

Apart from universities, Washington D.C. is the place where some of the most known and most influential foreign policy think-tanks are located. Every major international lobby and business lobby has an office in Washington D.C. Many international organizations such as the IMF or The World Bank have their headquarters in Washington D.C. And of course every country has an embassy in Washington D.C.

If you are a student of International Relations or if you are into politics or even just into business Washington D.C. is the place to be. That is why I really appreciate my time here in Washington D.C. as a student of IR. By coming here you meet people from all over the world and from every single area of IR.

Washington D.C. truly is the Capital of the World.

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Last time I was travelling was in April  when I travelled to Portugal. I flew to Porto from Paris. This happened just a day after the disruptions caused by the Icelandic volcano. My flight was from the Paris-Beauvais airport. This airport happens to be almost 100 kms from Paris. In order to get there one must take a special shuttle. In normal circumstances this shuttle leaves every 15-30 minutes. My flight was scheduled on 15:30. I arrived at the bus station at 12:35 . Just to find out that the next bus is leaving at 14:45. (Because of the disruptions the buses were not leaving for almost a week. Since this was the first day they were leaving  since the disruptions began, they only left every 3 hours. There was an announcement on the airport website. I was not smart enough to check it out.) The time to get to the airport is around 1 hour and 10 minutes. There were no circumstances under which I could have caught the flight while taking the 14:45 bus. I would have to take the taxi and pay around 100 euros. I was told by the guy behind the counter that I should wait because probably there will be other people who will arrive late. In that case I could share the taxi with them, which if shared does not cost much. I was lucky. Three other people were just as stupid as me. :-D. They happenned to be 3 Italians. So we shared a taxi and had some good conversations in the taxi. They told me about what is Italy like and what they liked about France. I used up all my italian which only happens to be a few words such as hello, thank you, goodbye and so on.

After the flight I finally arrived at Porto. I got to the hostel. I checked out the beautiful city. In the evening I found out that the hostel was almost empty. Except for me there were only 3 other people. They happenned to be from Spain. That evening I practiced a lot of my Spanish. They told me about their lives in Spain and what is Spain like. They were all over 30 years old and told me about the hardships that young people have to go through in Spain. (I guess it is not only a problem in Italy and Slovakia but pretty much all over Europe. SADLY) It was great having a chat with them.

Next Day I went to Lisbon to meet my friends who are studying there for a few months via the ERASMUS exchange programme. (Thanks to the same programme I can study for a few months in France.) While I was there we hired two cars and went for a roadtrip across Portugal. The participants were me, 3 of my slovak friends and 5 lithuanians. I was in the other car with 3 lithuanians. Again we had some awesome chats and had a lot of fun.

So just in few days, I happenned to be with 3 italians, 3 spaniards and 3 lithuaninas. This is pretty much how globalization works in practice.  Young people from all over the world are meeting each other and are able to exchange experience. Travelling is more fun just because of that. Why would one spend a lot of money for a luxurious holiday in an expensive hotel? It is much better to spend less in a hostel where you get to meet other people and find out much more about the world. One can also improve his language skills while he speaks a foreign language. The other positive thing was that I could tell all these foreigners a lot about my country, Slovakia. This way they do not have to believe all the stereotypes.

The icelandic volcano also showed just how globalized this world truly is. Something that happenned in Iceland shook all of Europe and disrupted the traffic all over the northern hemisphere.

One thing is for certain and everyone who hesitates about travelling should keep it in mind. THE WORLD IS A BOOK AND THOSE WHO DO NOT TRAVEL READ ONLY ONE PAGE

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