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Claude Forthomme
Attended Columbia University
Lives in Rome
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Claude Forthomme

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Thanks for the comment, Chloé, and I hope my next post will clarify this and I'm grateful to you for asking this question! ECOSOC is a UN commission that oversees all the work done by the 40+ UN specialized technical agencies operating on the ground in developing countries wherever there's a need for help and technical transfer/know how. UNESCO covers and seeks to harmonize the work of all those agencies, from WHO in the field of public health to FAO in the rural sector, and includes such outliers as the AIEA involved, as you know, in nuclear oversight. The field of action of the UN is incredibly broad while the G-20 is merely a group of government officials - financial heads and political heads, depending on the kind of meeting, and relying on a very small secretariat to prepare their meetings agenda and background documentation. They don't do anything except talk and exchange ideas about this or that issue. And sometimes perhaps agree on doing something together, provided they can find the money to do it and obtain the agreement of their own respective parliaments.

The difference with the UN is unbridgeable - these are two distinct animals. To begin with, the UN's personnel is extremely large by comparison to the G-20 and it is active on the ground, with financing from UN members countries (that pay their membership dues) and from the private sector (for example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). So, at ECOSOC, meetings are not intended just for talk but to try and oversee what happens in the field as UN agencies go ahead and run assistance projects and programmes. ECOSOC has the task of keeping all that world-wide field activity (that takes place in many countries that in fact do not belong to the G-20) within the boundaries of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that have been agreed to by the UN General Assembly (GA) in New York in 2000 (this guiding framework of "goals" will be now rediscussed in New York in September at the upcoming GA since the MDGs are ending in 2015 and have to be re-conducted in the form of Sustainable Development Goals, as you know).

However the work of the G-20 is not totally lost on ECOSOC and does have echoes there: some of the same governments are very active in both and of course they work to the same agenda (their own!). But I'm getting ahead of my next post here! 
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Claude Forthomme

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Cool and scary!
With the release of the Apple Watch, wearable technology is back on the forefront of people’s minds after the debacle..
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HORRIBLE!
In the era of mass consumption and waste, it is no surprise that humans would theoretically need 1.5 worlds to..
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Claude Forthomme

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The Battle for Food: small farmers vs. Big Business, who wins?
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Claude Forthomme

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A small comment concerning the photos: I couldn't find a single photo of the crash that wasn't covered by copyright. It is quite clear the German Wings has put the clamp down on pictures of the event: you find them in the press of course, but not on Wikipedia which usually carries only open source photos...It is obvious that the aviation industry, companies and pilot unions alike, is in turmoil as it faces loss of confidence from the public.
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Claude Forthomme

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A new player on the global scene!
Discussions in Egypt this month have concluded the creation of a new trade zone in Africa, involving 26 countries on..
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A true story
May 1990, on the road to Yalinga . A potholed dirt road , plunging straight forward, in the middle of..
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Claude Forthomme

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Please don't tell me I don't know how to use Twitter or Facebook, I've been using both for years! What I say here is the result of many campaigns - not just the most recent ones. I have to admit that Facebook and Twitter used to work better, roughly until 2012 but since last summer with the introduction of KU and following the rise of other book subscription services that took off in a big way in 2014, the collapse is complete.
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Claude Forthomme

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Author Abigail Padgett has sent me her comment via email and I'm happy to reproduce it here, as per her request:
"One can hardly object to the presence of a candle at a memorial service.  Yes, Andreas Lubitz appears to have killed 149 people when he killed himself.  He is, if a concept as simplistic as “guilt” even applies here, guilty of murder, of mass murder.  Nonetheless, he is dead and those who loved him, particularly his parents, could not with any decency
have been excluded from that ritual observance of grief and loss.

Andreas’s candle is not the issue.

The issue is rather the impenetrable nature of the human mind.  There seems to be evidence that Andreas, whose sole intent from the age of 14 was to be a pilot, had a documentable history of psychiatric treatment for clinical depression.  (A current journalistic conceit in which all psychiatric or psychological issues are subsumed under the rubric of “depression” does not apply here.  Apparently Andreas Lubitz actually had been treated for clinical depression, a condition so vague in the popular mind and so overdiagnosed by doctors who are not psychiatrists that in the U.S. one in ten people will at some point take antidepressant medications.)

But real clinical depression is an experiential nightmare the rest of us cannot imagine, and those so diagnosed are, quite reasonably, prone to suicide.  If Andreas' diagnosis was competent, he should never have been allowed to complete his initial pilot training.  That he was, speaks to both Lufthansa’s desperate and careless pilot recruiting and to
Andreas’ ability to mask his own desperation.  

At the end he was only 26, still immature, and escalating symptoms had driven him to doctor after doctor seeking a reprieve that wasn’t possible.  He tore up a physician’s recommendation that he was unfit for work on March 24, and climbed into the cockpit knowing that flight 9525 was almost certainly his last.  Perhaps he was angry in the way of a man who kills the woman he cannot have.  When the chance arose, Andreas apparently locked the pilot outside the cockpit and destroyed both himself and what he would never have again – control of a plane full of people.

Whether his act was or was not “forgivable” must fall for analysis to the realm of philosophy.  But there are cold, hard, un-philosophical facts that must be taken into account when structuring preventative measures for the future.

1.  Nobody ever knows the private thoughts of anybody.  Andreas’s parents, girlfriend and friends, as well as Patrick Sonderheimer, the captain of flight 9525, could not know what Andreas was thinking/planning unless he told them, which he did not.

2.  The only reliable source of information about the thought processes of anybody is to be found in observation of that person’s behavior.  IE: a pilot altering a plane’s path into the side of a mountain is thinking of crashing that plane.

3.  Thus, at least one competent observer must be (a) present, and (b) able and empowered to override the intent of the one whose behavior is dangerous.  Isolation is the playground of skewed thought, which in the absence of external controls may manifest in skewed behavior.  No pilot should ever be alone in a cockpit, no surgeon in an operating room, etc.  We are primates, wired for interactive social dependence and control; the presence of other people in almost all contexts is essential.

Germany’s grisly history may account for a reactive oversensitivity to the rights of those who are “different,” but Germany is not alone in this.  Everywhere, at least in the West, records of psychiatric treatment, juvenile criminal proceedings and other indicators of aberrant thought/behavior are shrouded in legal secrecy.  As the family member of someone who has lived with a serious psychiatric disorder for decades, I have written and lectured passionately against the mindless and cruel stigma imposed on those who through no fault of their own must struggle to live with psychiatric problems. 

However, even I would urge changes in the protocols that silence necessary warnings.  If any of the several physicians Andreas Lubitz saw in those last days before Germanwings Flight 9525 had been free to tell not only Andreas, but Lufthansa, that he was unfit for the responsibilities of a pilot on March 24, 149 people would still be alive.  Andreas himself might still be alive.  And those 150 candles would never have been lit."
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I totally understand you, Abigail, and forgiveness is certainly the best response - as the Cologne Cardinal reminded us. But candles are a particular symbol that is appropriate for the pilot's innocent victims and not to him. He is, as you noted, guilty of mass murder. He may not have realized what he was doing because of mental illness, but the murder is there all the same. In my view, the ceremony could have been equally well held without lighting candles...
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Expect some surprises!
That is the title of an article I just wrote for Impakter. As I am doing research for my upcoming book about the United Nations (tentatively entitled "Soft Power"), I keep coming across interesting...
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Cool!
Not long ago, we reported on the Climate Summit held in New York City on 23rd of September 2014.  For..
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Have her in circles
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Work
Occupation
writer; artist ; journalist and blogger
Skills
painting, cooking
Employment
  • writer, painter, blogger, 2005 - present
  • United Nations agency: FAO; Harper & Row Editor; Washington University lecturer in economics; Coca Cola marketing expert
    1979 - 2004
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Rome
Previously
Stockolm - Paris - New York - Chicago - Cairo - Moscow - Bogotà - Brussels
Story
Tagline
Writer, Poet, Painter, Blogger, Economist and Food Lover
Introduction
Two lifelong passions: writing fiction and painting. One serious job: economist specialized in humanitarian and development aid. One hobby: cooking.

Work
: 25 years with the United Nations/FAO - ended career as Director for Europe/Central Asia. Before that: banking, editing, free-lance journalism, college teaching, marketing, and always writing and painting. Currently delegate to the Rome-based UN Agencies. 

Published in English (digitally on all platforms, including Amazon, see author page; printed books from CreateSpace):
- Science fiction/Speculative Fiction/Climate fiction:  Gateway to Forever (2014)
- Romance/ Boomer Lit: Crimson Clouds (2012; originally: A Hook in the Sky)
- Cross genre (historical, paranormal, thriller): Luna Rising
- Short stories: Death on Facebook, Short Stories for the Digital Age (2011)
- Poetry: contributed to "Freeze Frame", anthology  edited by Oscar Sparrow (2012)
- Non fiction:   "The Development Dilemma", an essay on development aid (1990 - out of print);

Published in Italian (with Italian publishing houses - out of print)
- an award-winning children's book: "Le Avventure di Gwendolina e Casimiro" (1991)
- Historical/paranormal romance: "Un Amore Dimenticato", the precursor of "Luna Rising" (2007)        
 
Painting: member of Artistes Indépendants (Paris); 15  shows including 2 personal shows (Paris and Rome )

Blogging at http://claudenougat.blogspot.com


Contributor to Imparker and Publishing Perspectives



Education
  • Columbia University
    Economics
  • Barnard College
    Economics
  • French Lycée Par Correspondance
    High School
Basic Information
Gender
Female
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