Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership by Mattis Bieg, Germany

Currently in negotiations the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a trade agreement with the aim to strengthen and boost the US economy and the member nations of the European Union. The supporters of the partnership are claiming that the trade agreement will result in the creation of millions of jobs for American and European citizens; furthermore, they assert it could have a positive impact on the economy of the EU and the USA. According to the European Commission, the partnership could boost the economy by at least 90 billion dollars just for the USA. However critics believe that big corporations will exclusively profit from the partnership and the positive effects on families and private households won’t compensate the disadvantages in sectors such as environmental protection, consumer protection and food safety acts. In addition, the negotiations between the USA and the EU are criticized for being undemocratic and for haggling behind closed doors without including the public in the decision making process.

The TTIP should be publicly discussed if it is morally defendable to support a trade agreement which could result in the expansion of an already immense wealth gap. According to the book Capital by Thomas Piketty the imbalance will result in a decreasing economic potential for both parties. Furthermore, TTIP strengthens social injustice and the exploitation of minorities and workers in the low-paid sector and the creation of a justice system independent from domestic laws for big companies who will then be able to sue countries via international arbitrations for a potential loss of profit due to domestic consumer protection laws or environmental protection laws.

To ensure that the interests of the US and EU economies as well as big corporations are represented in the negotiations, the leading US negotiators are mostly former lobbyists. For example, Michael Froman, trade representative for the USA and chief negotiator of TTIP, was paid four million dollars by his former employer to take on this task. Other examples are Islam Siddiqui who is a former lobbyist of Crop Life which is representing establishments like Bayer, BASF and Monsanto, or Robert Holleyman who has been an Apple and Microsoft lobbyist for over 20 years. But the EU is no better. Even though there are over 15,000 lobbyists working in Brussels, the negotiators of the EU still thought it would be necessary to have over 520 meetings with neoliberal-related lobbyists.

Perhaps the influence of the lobbyists isn’t a problem at all, because there is at least the potential that those companies involved won’t act selfishly or only focus on their own interests. Lobbyists for example possess an advanced knowledge about finances and management; these skills have been used by the Swiss government to budget the building of the world’s longest tunnel and to stick to the time schedule, which was a complete success. Additionally not all lobbyists are related to finance and business, some of them work for social organizations like the Human Rights Watch, the Freedom House or even the ICRC.

So what could be the other consequences of TTIP? Positive effects of TTIP would be the creation of a strong trade union, which could protect the members of this union from a potential global economic crisis. Other benefits are surely the reduction of beurocratism and the unnecessary costs of domestic customs for export and import. Furthermore, trade with foreign countries who ratified TTIP will be far easier than current conditions. In addition, TTIP will lead to the cultural exchange of goods.

The trading partnership will definitely have an impact on consumer protection, environment protection and worker’s rights. In those cases, the effects will be especially negative for the EU, due to the fact that they have stricter and more diverse laws and restrictions. One just needs to take a look at the list of prohibited chemical and biological substances; of the 1,300 forbidden substances in the EU, only 11 are forbidden in the USA. For example, asbestos (used in the shipbuilding and construction industry), which was clearly and without any doubt declared as a threat to health and a carcinogen, is still commonly used in plenty of goods in the USA. Furthermore, the USA has only ratified two out of eight ILO-norms (International Labor Organization) which would be forced labor and child labor in its worst forms. Obviously this doesn’t mean that the USA is one of the worst countries regarding workers rights, because countries like Syria have ratified all ILO-norms and Iran five of eight, and surely the people there don’t have more workers rights than the people in the USA. However, this kind of behavior illustrates a certain attitude towards the lack of protection of workers in the USA. For example 25 states in the USA have special Right-to-work-laws which restrict the funding of labor unions and worker councils. An example of this would be the Mercedes-Benz factory in Alabama which is the only factory of Mercedes worldwide without a committeeman.  In addition, there are countless further cases of egoistic and immoral behavior by international businesses. A great example would be the Canadian establishment, Gabriel Resources, which focuses on the mining of gold in Romania. Romania and Canada signed a trading partnership to protect the interests of companies and investors. However Gabriel Resources is currently suing the state of Romania for prohibiting the project due to the planned use of cyanide during mining, which is against the environmental laws of the EU, to which Romania is applying for a membership. Cyanide is also called a ticking bomb due to the fact that it is highly toxic and even deadly. Further examples for this controversy would be the lawsuit against Estonia for regulating its financial institutions or Uruguay for labeling cigarettes with health warnings. In general this wouldn’t be a problem if the case was held in front of a domestic judge, but those cases are fought in front of international arbitrators, whose lawyers and judges are often selected by the businesses themselves. In addition there is no inclusion of third-parties or witnesses if one of the partners doesn’t agree.

Considering all this information, the negotiation procedure has to be changed in order to include the public and to prevent secret unwritten agreements with the aim to loosen regulations in favor of big companies. Furthermore, the discussion about hard-won workers’ rights, as well as the preparation to introduce a parallel justice system for globalized companies, has to be put to an end to fulfill the aim of serving the citizens and providing them benefits through the TTIP deal. If they conform to the requirements, TTIP is more likely to make a positive change in our daily lives, improve the economy and to strengthen the USA and the EU, if they don’t protect the workers and citizens it will have disastrous impacts on our societies.


TTIP cartoon 1TTIP cartoon 2


  • Thank You for Smoking (2005, USA)
  • Why the Deadly Asbestos Industry Is Still Alive and Well (Vice Reports)
  • TTIP-leaks (Greenpeace, Netherlands)
  • TTIP (Vice Reports)


Autism as a Unique World

by Klaudia Lubczuk, Poland

Today’s world is full of people whose behavior is difficult for us to understand. Seldom are we drawing attention to these people who, despite having specific disabilities, are unique. One of these disabilities is autism, which is invisible to the eyes. Autism is one of the major issues affecting children nowadays. Although, do we know for sure what the condition involves? Autistic children with language and cognitive abilities is the topic which I would like to raise. This subject is close to my heart, because in the future I would like to work with autistic children, helping them with everyday reality.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder that can cause problems with thinking, feeling, language and the ability to relate to others. To the main symptoms of ASD we can include limited ability to initiate and sustain social contacts, deficits in verbal and non-verbal communication, as well as repetitive, stereotyped forms of activity and behavior. Cognition deficits of autistic people relate to deficits in the development of the theory of mind.

“By THE TIME I’d returned to my old school, I was so withdrawn that I had little idea of what was going on around me.  As I gradually emerged, it was once again into a world of things. I became fascinated with words and books, and making outside order out of inner chaos.”

Donna Williams, “Nobody Nowhere”

Helen Tager-Flusberg in 1995 carried out research based on detailed studies of autistic children’s narrative story-telling abilities by PhD Loveland and her colleagues. Loveland asked autistic children to tell the story that they were watching in the form of a puppet show. She found out that autistic children weren’t able to retell the story. Furthermore, some of them in this research failed to understand the events. Thus, we can speak about the lack of cultural perspective, imagination of others intentions, desires or the ways of thinking. These deficits can have a strong impact on fundamental aspects of autism, for instance, participation in social interactions.


Hinging on the foregoing research, Helen Tager-Flusberg wanted to verify autistic children narrative abilities. She asked 10 autistic and 10 developmentally typical children to narrate a story from a wordless picture book. The book was telling the story about a boy, whose lovely frog ran away at night. This is a typical task for examining the theory of mind. In narrative stories, it was difficult to identify the character’s emotions, and only 4 of the 10 children reported a solution to the character’s situation. Autistic children were using very expressive language, they were minimally narrating picture stories, not describing the main characters. In their stories there was lack of cause-effect relationships. Henceforth, we can see the deficits in understanding others intentions and mental states. The empathy level of autistic children’s is relatively low.


Whenever we are raising the narrative abilities issue, we need to remember how big an impact it has on the theory of mind. Autistic children’s stories represent particular deficits in understanding both mental states and other’s emotions. Deficits in emphatic behaviors can be broaden by usage of strong expressive language which, widely considered, is inadequate to socially agreed standards. Furthermore, deficits in the theory of mind can bring many complications. In 1992, Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues had put forward a hypothesis that autistic children have problems with understanding other’s desires, beliefs and intentions. These elements concur to support the theory of mind which is indispensable to understanding and predicting other’s behaviors. Baron-Cohen mentioned as well that autistic people can perceive the world as chaotic or even intimidating. Not only social contacts but also attempts to understand them will end up in failure. The motivation to begin social interactions is very common for autistic children, nonetheless, the biggest barrier is misunderstanding the function of communicating, as well as their limited skills in people-to-people contacts.

In essence, autistic children have many difficulties with everyday reality. Despite having motivation to communicate with others, they cannot understand the process of communication. Perceiving the world as chaotic or even intimidating should not affect autistic people. Our duty is to make their life easier, because they see the world  in different colors than we do.

Women in the 21st century

Rosa Cuesta Valentin, The Netherlands

Most people find feminist annoying. Feminist complain, feminist are fat, feminist are not able to get a man, feminist live in houses with way too many cats and most of all: feminists hate men. The F-word, feminism, still remains a negative topic in this, so-called to be, 21st century ‘modern world’. Which seems totally unfair, when you know that there doesn’t exist a single place on earth where men and women have the same rights.

Ever since the beginning of the feminist movement, the development of women has been blocked by both traditional thinking and stereotypes. Even in The United States of America, which is claimed by many to be the country of freedom, respect and equality, men and women are not equal. Women everywhere in this world are still subordinate to men. Difference in wage between men and women while having the same job function, stereotypes which demand certain behavior from both women and men, the acceptation of the lower position of women in Arabian countries. They all prove us the reality of gender inequality of today’s life.emma-watson

Women are subordinate to men, even here in the US in the 21st century. I don’t know whether I am a feminist or not, but when I watched Emma Watson’s speech for the HeforShe Campaign on feminism at the United Nations I felt every word she said. I had my doubt when writing about this subject, just as Emma Watson had her doubts on giving her speech. However, beyond the  fear she might had felt , more outstanding to me was the power and strength that she radiated as she spoke. ‘I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen, to speak up.’  It were her last words that gave her, and me, the strike-through we needed: ‘Ask yourself ‘If not me, who? And if not now, when?’.

Rio de Janeiro


Luiza Martins, Brazil

Rio is a marvelous city in Brazil and famous for Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, Christ the Redeemer statue, Corcovado and the Sugarloaf Mountain. People there have a way of life totally different from the rest of Brazil. They call it “jeitinho brasileiro” and are very proud of that. This way of life makes Cariocas – people who are born in Rio – always think they are right.

In Rio it is summer all year long so lower degrees are rarely seen by them. As a result of this, they are always wearing flip flops and the only concern they have is if the weather is going to be good and if they can go to the beach. Because of that, Cariocas are always happy, with a smile on their faces.


“Carioca. Yes, 20 degrees is winter”

The beaches in Rio are authentic and attract a lot of tourists all year. Copacabana Beach is the most famous one and is located in South Zone of the city. This beach is known for the 4km of sand. There are still other famous beaches, like Arpoador, where the surfers like to go due to the perfect waves, and Ipanema, where usually many families are seem. Cariocas loves being at the beach while eating a biscoito globo and drinking a cold tea called matte. It’s part of Carioca’s life.praia


Although the weather is not good you have a lot of other options. We have Parque Lage and Jardim Botanico (Botanical Garden) where you can find a lot of places to have a picnic with beautiful trees around you.  We still have the museums with a lot of exhibitions, one of them is the Museum of Modern Arts. And don’t think that are the only things to see, there are churches, islands, and other places to visit.

Rio is a city which never sleeps, people are on the street all day and all night. They really like parties, so if you want to go to a good one, Lapa is the best place to visit while you are in the city. Around this neighborhood you can find many bars to drink and chill with friends. The architecture there is amazing and even if you go at night you can see it.lapa


There isn’t a city that is perfect and without problems. So, on the other hand, Rio has a lot of problems, and one of them is the inequality. The corruption is the worst thing there. Because of that, there are a lot of people living in good conditions and a good life, and others are living in extreme poverty at the same time. They call those places with extreme poverty “favela”, and the largest one is Rocinha, located between São Conrado and Gávea, in South Zone.  Rocinha’s population was estimated between 150,000 and 300,000 inhabitants during the 2000s.rocinha

People in Brazil, especially in Rio, are obsessed with football. It’s a tradition on Sunday to stay at home with the family and watch the games drinking a beer. Fla and Flu is a classic game. They are rivals and it is a beautiful game to see. The two cheering audiences are always singing for the players and it is kind of a pretty concert. But the best option is  to go to Maracanã to see the game inside of the heart of football.torcida



Rio is the city which was chosen to host the Olympic Games. It was a huge and beautiful ceremony and the entire world was talking about it. Now they are getting ready to host the Paralympic Games and do an enormous event again.

Finally, we can talk about music. There is a very particular kind of music, the Bossa Nova, which is derived from the Samba but they put more emphasis on melody than the percussion. One of the most famous songs is “Garota de Ipanema” and it was written by Tom Jobim.

Now you know a little bit more about Rio, and we expect that you want to go there to visit all those places shown here. You have to know that people in Rio are always ready to receive tourists and happy to help them.

Olha que coisa mais linda                                                   Look, what a beautiful thing

Mais cheia de graça                                                             So graceful

É ela, a menina                                                                     She is the girl
Que vem e que passa                                                          That comes and goes by

Num doce balanço a caminho do mar                              In her sweet swing heading to the sea
Moça do corpo dourado                                                    Girl of the golden brown tan

Do sol de Ipanema                                                               From the Ipanema sun

O seu balançado                                                                  Her swing

É mais que um poema                                                         Is more than a poem
É a coisa mais linda                                                              She is the most beautiful thing

Que eu já vi passer                                                              That I’ve ever seen going by

Tom Jobim




Santa Barbara Harbor

Larissa Kunz, Germany

If you travel to Santa Barbara, you should visit the harbor. The harbor of Santa Barbara lies at the end of West Beach on California’s Pacific coast. Almost a hundred years ago when a Santa Barbara resident wanted to keep his yacht closer to home, the harbor began.







Nowadays it is one of the major tourist attractions in Santa Barbara including Stearns Wharf, fishing, shops, restaurants and the Yacht Club.

From there, many ships depart to the California Channel Islands. You can take off to go whale watching, rent a jet ski, a boat or charter a yacht, if your budget allows it.







In my opinion,Stearns Wharf is one of the most beautiful locations in town. From the end of the pier you can see the beach with its palm trees and white beach. You can lie on the beach between Stearns Wharf and the harbor and when you look at either side you have an amazing view of the coastline of Santa Barbara.


If you love the sea, this will be the place to go.


FC Barcelona

by Jovan Dukic, Switzerland

Fc Barcelona is a famous football club from Spain. The short form is Barca. The players never would like to say they play for Spain because Catalonia has a conflict with the Spanish government. Catalonia has been looking to be independent for many years. The club was founded 29. November 1899. Today the club counts as one of the best in the world, if not the best. In Spain, Barca has the most trophies of the national cup (Copa del Rey) and they have the second most championship titles behind Real Madrid.


barcelona2 stadium

Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff was born 24. April 1947 and he died 24. March 2016. He died in Barcelona and the club gave him the highest honor. Johan was a Dutch professional football player and head coach. He won the Ball d`Or three times as a player. Johan Cruyff was regarded as a true football genius and he was the founder of the considered Tiki- taka. Johan has three children; he has one son and two daughters. His son leads the Johan Cruyff Foundation, who helps children in trouble.

Barcelona3 johan cruyff


Tiki- Taka

Tiki – Taka is a style of play in football characterized by short passing and movement, working the ball through various channels, and maintaining possession.
The style is primarily associated with La Liga Club Fc Barcelona especially during the era of Pep Guardiola. The typical characteristic of this system is that the team has a lot of ball possession, between 50%-70%. If the left and the right outside linebackers run in the attack and don’t defend for this short moment, they have more players in the attack. If they lose the ball, the two outside linebackers run all the way back to their defensive positions. If the whole team changes from attacking to defending, it creates pressure on the other team to lose possession of the ball again.


barcelona1 tiki taka

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi was born at 24. June 1987 in Argentina. As a young guy he started his career in Newells Old Boys. This is a mid-level club in Argentina. In 2003, he left the Newells Old Boys to join Fc Barcelona. He started in the youth team of Fc Barcelona, the famous La Masia. With 16 years, four months and 23 days, old he made his first team debut. It was a friendly game against Jose Mourinhno’s Porto. In his first season he made his first record he scored 36 goals in 30 games. Messi holds the record for the most goals scored in La Liga 50, a football season 82 and a calendar year 91. After the tournament copa america 2016 he is the top scorer of Argentina he past Gabriel Batistuta. He won the Balon D’or five times you can see the picture among the article.

Barcelona leo messi


Writing Your Own Songs

by Vivian Grunauer, Switzerland

“You don’t need a song, you need a feeling.” This quote is one of the most important aspects if you want to write a song. You can’t just sit down on a sunny afternoon and tell yourself that you are going to write a song now. A song itself is like art. It is complex, beautiful and only the person who wrote it can understand it completely. But if a song is really beautiful, you feel like you are the person who wrote it because you have the same emotions as the writer when you listen to the song. A really good song carries you away, makes you smile or even cry. So if you want to write a song, you need to have a strong emotion or feeling you can write about. vivian


Did you know that more than 70% of all the songs in the world are about love? If you ask yourself why, the answer is pretty simple. As I mentioned before, to write a song you need a feeling, and love is the strongest emotion of all emotions. Everyone knows how it feels to have a broken heart or to not be able to stop thinking about this one special person. Many people are annoyed because there are so many love songs and many of them are about almost the same thing. I don’t think there is any reason to be upset because, if you are really sad and you write a song about that, it can be really releasing and helpful to get over a hard time in your life. Or maybe you feel exactly the opposite. Maybe you are so happy that you want to scream your happiness out into the wide world.

vivian 2

I have never been the kind of girl who writes in a diary. I tried to do that a couple of times but I was always too lazy to write daily. My kind of diary was my songbook. Whenever I felt like something was bothering me I wrote it into that book. Sometimes I just wrote a few words, and other times a whole text. I didn’t turn all of those thoughts into songs but all the songs I wrote had their first appearance in this little book. That’s the reason why my songs are really personal. They are my kind of diary.

Last year, I sang at our city festival with my band “Vie and We.” I had sung at this festival before, but this time it felt completely different to be on stage. On the one hand that was because it was the first appearance of my band on stage, and on the other hand it was the first time that I sang my own songs in public. I was really nervous because I knew that all the people that were listening to me that day would know some of my most personal feelings and thoughts after that performance. But it was totally worth it. To see that the audience liked my songs, that they liked my self-made little artwork, made me very happy. I hope that I’ll have another opportunity like this in the near future.vivian 3

7 Things To Do in Los Angles

By Emma Leboullanger (France) and Ellen Maes (Belgium)


1. Venice Beach


Venice is a residential, commercial and recreational beachfront neighborhood on the Westside of the city of Los Angeles. Venicea was founded
in 1905 as a seaside resort town. It was an independent city until 1926, when it merged with Los Angeles.
Today, Venice is known for its canals, beaches, and the circus-like Ocean Front Walk, a two-and-a-half-mile pedestrian-only promenade that features performers, mystics, artists and vendors.

“I went to Venice Beach. There are a lot of little shops with nice souvenirs and it’s cheaper than in the cities! And the beach is so beautiful!”


 2. Santa Monica

Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, California, United States. The city is named after the Christian saint, Monica. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is bordered on three sides by the city of Los Angeles – Pacific Palisade to the north, Brentwood on bbthe northeast, Sawtelle on the east, Mar Vista on the southeast, and Venice on the south. Partly because of its agreeable climate, Santa Monica had become a famed resort town by the early 20th century. The Santa Monica Pier remains a popular and iconic destination

“When you stand on the Santa Monica Pier, you feel like you’re standing on the set of Hannah Montana. It is amazing!

3. The Hollywood Sign

It’s more than just nine white letters spelling out a city’s name; it’s one of the world’scc
most evocative symbols, a universal metaphor for ambition, success, glamour…for this
dazzling place, industry and dream we call
H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D. In this place, you’ll get c

loser to Hollywood’s “biggest star” than you ever dreamed possible, from a photo journey through Hollywood history and tips on where to see the Sign, to live Sign Webcams and the latest Sign news. You’ll also learn about the people who work to keep the Sign preserved and protected, and how you can get involved.

“Seeing the Hollywood Sign makes you feel like you are really in America, close to the most famous people. It is very wonderful!”


4. Walk Of Fame

ddThe Hollywood Walk of Fame comprises more than 2,500 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California. The stars are permanent public monuments to achievement in the entertainment industry, bearing the names of a mix of actors, musicians, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, fictional characters, and others. The Walk of Fame is administered by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and maintained by the self-financing Hollywood Historic Trust. It is a popular tourist destination, with a reported 10 million visitors in 2003.

“Walking where your favourite people have walked is so amazing! You really feel closer to them and seeing their stars on the sidewalk is so impressive…”


5. Universal Studiosaa

Universal Studios is an American film studio, owned by Comcast through its wholly owned subsidiary NBCUniversal, and is one of Hollywood’s “Big Six” Films Studios. Its production studios are at 100 Universal City Plaza Drive in Universal City, California. Universal Studios is a member of the Motion Association Picture of America. Universal was founded in 1912 by the German Carl Laemmle, Mark Dintenfass, Charles O.Baumann, Adam Kessel,  Pat Powers, William Swanson, David Horsley, Robert H. Cochrane, and Jules Brulatour. Universal is the world’s fourth oldest major film studio.

“It’s incredible to see the places where movies have been set, and the attractions are so amazing, especially The Simpsons!”


6. Beverly Hills

eeBeverly Hills is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States, surrounded by the cities of Los Angeles and West Hollywood. Originally a Spanish ranch where lima beans were grown, Beverly Hills was incorporated in 1914 by a group of investors who had failed to find oil, but found water instead and eventually decided to develop it into a town. By 2013, its population had grown to 34,658. Sometimes referred to as “90210”, one of its primary ZIP codes, it is home to many actors and celebrities. The city includes the Rodeo Drive shopping district and the Beverly Hills Oil Field.

“If you are lucky, you could see a celebrity in Beverly Hills! All these luxurious shops are very impressive. Moreover there are all these beautiful cars on the street…”


7. Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory is a facility in Los Angeles, California sitting on the south-facing

slope of Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. It commands a view of the Los Angeles Basin, including Downtown Los Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific ocean to the southwest. The observatory is a popular tourist attraction with an excellent view of the Hollywood sign, and an extensive array of space and science-related displays. Since the observatory opened in 1935, admission has been free, in accordance with Griffith’s

“This is an extraordinary building where you can have an amazing view of the city of Los Angeles, and also of the famous Hollywood sign. I think you have to see it once”