Controversy Over Kosovo Refugees In Germany

This is an updated version of an earlier post. I first retain the post as it was, then I have added some reflections in the light of comments received.

The Independent is running the following story:

Germany is deporting tens of thousands of Roma refugees to Kosovo despite clear threats to their safety and dire warnings from human rights groups that they will face “massive discrimination” on arrival.
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21st Century Socialism.

As all of Germany seems to engage either in market or Marx bashing these days, I thought it is time to add my two cents to the debate – and I’ll do it with the help of the US Europhile Jeremy Rifkin, who gave the “Stuttgarter Nachrichten” an interview about an old book of his, “the end of work.” The current German debate – the “Kapitalismuskritik” (“capitalism critique”) – is the result of a surprising lack of political imagination, a lot of disappointed social democrats, an important regional election in May, and the lack of a referendum about the European Constitution that would serve to channel the electorate’s fears, as it just happens in France.

Despite the fact that almost everyone, including business professors, in Germany – just as everywhere else – agrees at least theoretically, that there are issues to be debated with respect to the way our economy works, including obvious CEOcratic excesses, the political participants don’t seem to be able to update their class-struggle vocabulary to the needs of the 21st century. While I always thought “the left” had won a conceptional edge over so-called free-market fetishists by accepting that markets are “one coordinational mechanism among others”, I’m not sure about that anymore after having to endure the conflicting and confusing use of so many economic terms by leading German Social Democrats.

Thus, I suppose it was a good idea of the German government to invite Jeremy Rifkin to talk about his ideas concerning the future, or rather the end of work as we know it.
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Fermions

Heraclitis said that you can not step in the same river twice.
Wolfgang Pauli said that you can not be an identical fermion twice
that is that there can’t be two identical fermions.
Some Heraclitian said that you can’t step in the same river once.
This is clearly silly.

Similarly, I think that an honest application of the basic assumptions of quantum mechanics (as listed by Von Neuman) would imply that there can’t be one fermion.

A Fermion is a particle with spin + or minus hbar/2. For example, electrons are fermions. The word spin suggests that it refers to well spin as in the Earth spins around its axis and elementary particles spin around. Spin has the logical implication that charged particles with spin have magnetic fields. The magnetic properties of atoms are logically implied by the spin of their electrons, the orbital angular momentum of electrons and confusing stuff going on in the nucleus making extremely weak magnetic fields.

The spin of photons makes perfect sense if it is interpreted as an intrinsic angular momentum. I mean you know spinning. The strongest reason to interpret spin as angular momentum is that, if it is so interpreted, total momentum is conserved as particles are created and destroyed.

The Pauli exclusion principal (no two identical fermions) could have been accepted as a mere fact. However, physicists aim to explain results in terms of more fundamental principles. In this case, they note that if there are two identical fermions a and b and one switches a and b, then the wave form describing the system of particles is multiplied by -1 (I think the proof is hard in any case I never made head nor tail of it). Now clearly switching two identical particles changes nothing. That means the wave is equal to minus itself, which means it is zero. That means the probability of their being two identical fermions is zero.

OK back to spin and angular momentum. I argued at length that spin is, as the name suggests, a kind of angular momentum, because quantum mechanics has a clear interpretation of momentum and therefore angular momentum. The momentum operator is the gradient with respect to space of the wave form. Thus angular momentum is the derivative with respect to the angle.

Now what sort of wave form does a particle with angular momentum hbar/2 have ? well the derivative of the wave form with respect to the angle measured from a point is angular momentum around that point divided by h. That means that if one rotates the waveform of a fermion 360 degrees it is mulitplied by e to the power i times Pi which is equal to -1.

As far as I can tell, the only natural quantum mechanical interpretation of spin implies that the wave form of a fermion is multiplied by -1 if it is rotated 360 degrees. Clearly nothing changes if it is rotated 360 degrees. That seems to me to mean that the wave form of a fermion must be equal to zero, that is, the probability that there is a fermion is zero.

So why is the same argument a proof of the true Pauli exclusion principle and not a proof of the false claim that electrons don’t exist ?
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The World As Optimum Currency Area?

I was a little surprised to read in the Christmas edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (not yet online, subscription wall, in German) that Robert Mundell seems to have changed his mind. In his seminal 1961 paper about monetary integration, he famously stated that “the optimum currency area is not the world”. Now it appears he favors a sort-of worldwide currency union, initially comprising Dollar, Euro, and Yen (apparently, he’s also made that point earlier this year in Lib?ration (subscription wall, in French)).
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Spheres of Influence.

The Ukrainian parliament remained deadlocked today with respect to the issue of linking electoral rules and constitutional changes to limit the future President’s powers (Reuters), despite the alleged agreement in yesterday’s round-table talks.

Hoping to be able to avoid the constitutional curtailing of the future President’s powers, Yushchenko’s supporters insisted on two separate votes today. The Kyiv Post quotes Yulia Tymoshenko –

“We won’t vote for any package deals,”

In addition, President Kuchma declared that the Yushenko camp stalled the negotiations by insisting on the government’s dismissal, before making a half-hearted move in that direction. Reuters notes that he issued a decree on Tuesady appointing Finance Minister Mykola Azarov as acting premier, due to Mr Yanukovich’s “decision” to concentrate on campaigning for the run-off election. The Kyiv Post speculates this might be a move indicating Kuchma’s willingness negotiate the opposition’s demand to fire Mr Yanukovich, quoting Mikhail Pogrebinsky, an analyst with supposed close ties to the outgoing President.

“Kuchma … has been slowly taking a step back every day.”

Although the newspaper also notes that, despite increasing lack of political allies, there might be an unexpected legal obstacle to Mr Yanukovich’s removal: apparently Ukrainian law bans the dismissal of presidential candidates from their jobs.

While legal issues are certainly important, they aren’t the only locus of political power in Ukraine these days., in fact, not even the most important. The prosecutor general?s office might threaten Yushchenko with an investigation for treason with respect to his aggressive interview in the British Sunday Telegraph (Maidan), but how much weight does that carry in light of his supporters’ determination to eventually end the deadlock, on way or another (Kyiv Post)

“We have been peaceful so far, [but if Yushchenko wants to force Kuchma to concede defeat] we are ready.”

Meanwhile, the OSCE’s ministerial meeting in Bulgaria saw a clash of Russia and the US over Ukraine, and accordingly failed to even reach the consensus needed for a final declaration (despite reaching agreement on 20 specific, low-profile, proposals). In light of the events in Ukraine, Russia refused OSCE demands to honor pledges to withdraw its troops from Moldova and Georgia. Accordingly, Powell reiterated that the US would not ratify the 1999 treaty about mutually agreed reduction of conventional forces in Europe (CFE), until Russia withdraw its troops from Georgia and Moldova. (AFP)

The Russian foreign minister repeated the Russian dissatisfaction with the OSCE’s role as election monitor. He could not resist to mention the many irregularities in recent American elections, stating that the OSCE was guilty of a double standard.

Trying to put the row into perspective, speaking to AFP, Dmitry Trenin, deputy head of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace’s Moscow office, remarked that Putin

“ha[d] suffered a personal political setback in Ukraine and he is very angry … I do not think this can be a good thing for anybody.”

Mr Tremin interprets yesterday’s angry statement by Mr Putin as a veiled concession of defeat. He may have hoped to be able to reach an agreement with the West, particularly the United States, profoundly misjudging the West’s ability to trade anything in this matter. Mr Trmin blames the current Kremlin’s decision making structure that he claims is “restricted to a narrow circle” for much of the recent Russian lack of geopolitical realism. The Kyiv Post has more thoughts on this matter.

The FT notes that, despite growing concern with respect to Russia’s Democracy, Washington still believes Mr Putin had not yet crossed a red line, understanding – used to President Bush’s often blunt statemtents aimed at a domestic audience – that much of President Putin’s harsh words is not just informed by his personal disappointment and KGB-socialisation, but also by the need to keep Russian conservatives happy by restating their believes about American meddling in allegedly Russian affairs.

99 Orange Balloons (and then some more…)

99 (and some more) orange balloons are floating over Kyiv today while protesters gathered again peacefully waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision. In the meantime, outgoing President Kuchma met with Russia’s President Putin at a Russian governmental airport near Moscow. There are differing reports about what exactly Putin said with respect to a possible Ukrainian revote – whichever form it may take. Deutsche Welle quotes President Putin saying “a rerun election would not help” while Reuters quotes him with “a repeat of the run-off vote may fail to work.” I suppose his statement was intentionally ambigous – yet according to the statement of President Kuchma (translated by Maidan), it seems, despite yesterdays sort-of-agreement, the Ukrainian administration is still trying to gain time. Here’s (part of) what he allegedly said after the meeting with President Putin:

“The most important thing is that the Supreme Court, as the highest organ, must say if the violation occurred or not. The parliament has adopted a political decision. It is quite right, we must find a political solution.

The next developments seem very simple: Supreme Court’s verdict and the constitutional reform that will allow the parliament to form a government in a few days. In this case the parliament will be responsible for the situation in the country. Then a commission will consider the issue of reelections.”

Quite frankly, reading this one should wonder if there was something wrong with his last Vodka. It becomes more and more apparent that – for all the power the protesters lend to Yushenko – they also significantly narrow down his mandate in negotiations. There is no way the protesters will simply go home and wait for the administration prepare another rigged vote in a couple of months.

The window of opportunity for a peaceful solution is already beginning to close. As important as the rule of law is under normal circumstances, in this case, the rules have run out, and the people (on either side) are vociferously declaring who is Ukraine’s sovereign. Any further administrational attempt to trick them is unlikely to go down well. This may still end like it did in Nena’s song.

99 dreams I have had.

In every one a red balloon.

It’s all over and I’m standing pretty.

In this dust that was a city.

If I could find a souvenier.

Just to prove the world was here.

And here is a red balloon

I think of you and let it go.

UPDATE: (21:56 CET) – Ukraine’s Supreme Court once again adjourned without reaching a decision. Meanwhile, behind the scenes dealing and public positioning in anticipation of the court’s verdict continues, as the rejection of two Yanukovich peititon by the court are interpreted by some opposition members as a very hopeful sign with respect to the overall decision. According to Spiegel Online and Reuters, Ukrainian President Kuchma has conditionally agreed to dismiss Prime Minister Yanukovich, who lost a vote of no confidence in the Ukrainian Parliament yesterday. His offer comes with some strings attached – while cautiously accepting the need for speed (Interfax) with respect to new elections, he still insists on holding a full election, not just the run-off demanded by Yushenko, and his concept of “speedy” still clearly exceeds the time-horizon of the opposition.

The deteriorating economic and budgetary situation in Ukraine may be the central element in the President’s realization that the stand-off cannot be dragged-on until the protesters have frozen – although it is hard to determine to which extent his statements could be considered a threat indicating the increasing economic inevitability to end the protests, one way or another.

As the Ukranian National Bank seems increasingly worried about massive outflows of foreign currency deposits, Interfax mentions that the President met with some members of the current government yesterday explaining that this year’s electoral turmoil had already cost Ukraine dearly –

“Revenues are shrinking in virtually all branches of the economy, partly due to a decline in foreign trade, Kuchma said. “Some regions, for instance Sumy, Zhitomir and Donetsk, in November brought only half of the required amount to the budget. That directly threatens the payment of wages, social benefits and pensions.”