Egon Schiele. Girl in Black. 1911.

Four numbers for 2019

Four statistics from 2018 portent trends for 2019. All have to do with human health, and none of them are good. 

22 million

Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 1 million people infected with cholera, over 8 million people at the brink of starvation and 22 million in need of humanitarian aid. The crisis is the direct result of the ongoing armed conflict between Muslim rebels and a weak president, supported by Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the US.

Yemen is a model of armed conflict in the 21stcentury: the business enterprise of arms sales to regimes to prop up meaningless conflicts under the guise of “promoting regional stability.” The resulting billions pad the pockets of governments and arms-makers and ensure continuity of the current decadent Western lifestyle which reliably ignores the fact that Yemen even exists. This despite the fact that, unlike the Holocaust or Stalin’s persecutions, the crisis in Yemen is extensively documented for all the world to see on a daily basis.

Yemen demonstrates the mindset of the new world order, an order preoccupied with its own entitlement and the pursuit of material gains at the cost of dehumanization of those, who have not.  The lesson? In today’s interlinked globalized money-glut culture, large wars are no longer practical. But the small ones, like Yemen (8 yrs.), Syria (8 yrs.), and Afghanistan (17 yrs.) shall continue indefinitely.   

1 million

That’s how many people in Russia are officially HIV positive – the virus that causes AIDS. The real number is estimated to be more than double. Russia has the world’s fastest growing HIV rate, with 250 people contacting the virus every day.  Only half get treatment, the rest do not, which accounts for an estimated 30.000 AIDS –related deaths/year. The source? Russia has the highest amount of people in Europe who inject drugs.  The problem? It’s predicted that heterosexual HIV transmission will soon overtake drug-related transmission; HIV will become a mainstream infection effecting the general population.  The other real problem? Alcohol.  Alcohol-related sickness is now the leading cause of death, with one out of four men dying from alcohol before reaching 55. This, plus a steadily worsening economy explains Russia’s ongoing steady drop in population – by 2050 it is estimated to fall by 30 million. The associated skyrocketing costs linked to sickness, work and job loss and income loss for the state will dramatically strain Putin’s czarist state and its services, resulting in Putin tightening control and creating new external enemies and conflicts.  Opposition will continue to be suppressed and whatever intelligence or investment there is left in the country shall be put under tight control. The lesson? Russia will always be Russia, and not a Western nation, nor should it be. And the worse the situation there gets, the more it should be taken seriously.    

72, 287

That’s the number of drug overdose deaths in the US, a 10% increase over 2017. Of note is that almost half are attributed to pain-killing opiates.  In the US, the drug epidemic is now more deadly that gun violence, car crashes and AIDS. Trump’s administration is seeking to solve the crisis by limiting production of opiates by drug companies, with hundreds of lawsuits filed by states, counties and cities against major drug companies.  The real problem?  The epidemic of opiate use is the result of over-prescribing opiates by doctors, who don’t want to lose their patients, and the current American mindset, that everyone is entitled to everything, so that pain in any shape way or form is simply something that should immediately be stopped.  

That mindset directly links into the fact that the leading financial and social crisis facing America today is the rising cost of healthcare. The US now spends over 18% of its GDP on healthcare, while the OECD states on average spend half – 9%.  What is the increased spending due to? The lion’s share is for defensive medicine, where doctors order additional tests and prescribe needless medications so as to avoid lawsuits from their patients.  Yet America has the worst results, including life-expectancy, access to care, and treatment of chronic medical illness.  Unlike most other developed nations, America hasn’t figured out, that the problem is not in the system, but in its present cultural values. In today’s America, the Founding Father’s concept of freedom has malformed into a culture of entitlement. The concept of social redistribution as the mainstay of economic stability and growth is anathema to most Americans, which is why the richest 1% of people own more wealth than all  of the bottom 90%combined.  The lesson? Unless America experiences a dramatic mind-set shift, the differences between rich and poor shall continue to widen, with internal tensions increasing volatility in political, economic, and societal spheres.

817,000 versus 544,000

One is the global yearly number of deaths from all homicides, war deaths and deaths from terrorism combined, the other the global number of suicides/year. The larger number are the suicides. Surprised?  Not really. The reason is two-fold.  First, mankind is guided by perception rather than fact, a result of our long-standing evolutionary process, which at the end of the day pits success and survival against more empathetic qualities. Second, with the current Western imperative of consumerism, mental health issues simply don’t rank as a priority.  This is particularly true for today’s young generation weaned on technology, who are five timesmore likely to experience anxiety or depression than their parents or grandparents. The lesson? Unless we turn our attention to mental health and to the true reasons for our mounting anxiety, the current crisis will expand and further disengage us from ourselves, our families, and our cultures, with the potential to deform our civilization as we know it.      


Translated from Czech, January 7, 2019, Lidove noviny:

    • Intellectual paths in central Europe

      Samuel Abrahám World Politics

      How can intellectuals of central Europe maintain their moral principles and independence, yet support democracy, in an age when the region is again traversing a rocky road paved with nationalism and populism?

    • The Curious Case of Paul N. Whelan

      Igor Lukeš World Politics

      How likely is it that Paul Whelan is an American spy?


      At the end of December 2018 Russian authorities announced the arrest of Paul Whelan. He had received a USB flash drive from a Russian man who came to his hotel room in Moscow. Minutes later Mr. Whelan was arrested, charged with espionage, and taken to Lefortovo prison. If convicted, he would face 10 to 20 years in prison.


      Mr. Whelan, 48, is not an accredited diplomat. He is Canadian by birth, and also a citizen of the United States, Great Britain, and Ireland. He was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve but left with a “Bad Conduct Discharge,” having been court-martialed for larceny on the grounds that he had attempted to misappropriate more than $10,000 and was guilty of writing bad checks. It was subsequently reported that Mr. Whelan, prior to his current trip, had been to Russia several times and was a passionate collector of Russian souvenirs. His family claims he had gone to Moscow to attend a wedding of an American friend who was getting married to a Russian citizen. His most recent job in the United States has been described as providing security for the facilities of an automotive components’ supplier.

    • The “full truth” is unobtainable

      John Lloyd, red. Přítomnosti Society

      Ideal journalist characteristics by John Lloyd.

    • Momentous ‘eights’ in Czecho-Slovak history

      Jacques Rupnik Czech Politics

      Et n’oublions pas le Goofus Bird, oiseau qui vole en arrière car il ne se soucie pas de savoir où il va, mais d’où il vient. (J. L. Borges, Le livre des êtres imaginaires.)

    • The Anti-European Tradition of Europe

      Andrei Plesu World Politics

      Our featured year-end article explores the dichotomies of the formation of today’s Europe and the conflicts, tensions, and solutions therein.


      Europe has a long tradition of self-segregation, of multi-dimensionality, of debates on national identity that can go as far as internal conflict. The first failure of our ‘common home’ was the fracturing of the Roman Empire into a western and an eastern segment. Rome broke away from Byzantium, Catholicism from Orthodoxy, Protestantism from Catholicism, the Empire from the Papacy, East from West, North from South, the Germanic from the Latin, communism from capitalism, Britain from the rest of the continent. We easily perceive the differences that make up our identity; we are able at any time to distance ourselves from ourselves. We invented both colonialism and anti-colonialism; we invented Eurocentrism and the relativisation of Europeanism. The world wars of the last century began as intra-European wars; the European West and East were for decades kept apart by a ‘cold war’. An impossible ‘conjugal’ triangle has constantly inflamed spirits: the German, the Latin and the Slavic worlds.

    • Czech Security Information Service's straightforward Annual Report

      European Values Think-Tank Czech Politics

      Compared to most of the security institutions in Central Europe, the Czech Security Information Service (BIS) managed to describe Russian and Chinese intelligence activities in the Czech Republic in a remarkable detail. There are several points in the latest Annual Report we would like to highlight:


      • Russian and Chinese activities threatening the Czech security and other interests are a continuous priority for the BIS. While Russian activities “continuously focused primarily on influence operations and exploitation of Czech sources”, the Chinese changed up their tactics and focused more on intelligence infiltration instead of influence.
      • The size of the Russian diplomatic mission which includes a high number of individuals with affiliation to the Russian intelligence services represents several risks, especially because of the reckless attitude of Czech politicians and civil servants towards unclassified but non-public information.
    • Please, start taking pro-Kremlin disinformation seriously

      Vydavatelstvi MJS World Politics

      Open Letter by European Security Experts to President of the European Commission J. C. Juncker and High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.



    • Zeman a nuclear power

      Dalibor Rohac Czech Politics

      Murky Nuclear Business in New Europe.

    • One Hundred Years of Czech Provincialism

      Igor Lukeš Politika

      Dear readers, in conjunction with the 100 – year anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia we are pleased to present the following article by renowned historian Igor Lukeš. (Martin Jan Stránský, Publisher)


      Despite years of Nazi and communist occupation, the Czech Republic is now a member of NATO and its relations with the United States and other allies in the West are strong. It was heartwarming to see General James Mattis observing the Czech Army’s pass-in-review on October 28th. Given the Czech Republic’s geographic location, this is not a small achievement, and it is good to celebrate it.


      At the same time, we need to anticipate problems and prepare to face them before they become insurmountable. It is a truism but one worth repeating that friends not only support and sustain each another, they also tell each other the truth, even when it is uncomfortable, inconvenient, or outright painful. This is what I propose to do today. I will argue that the Czech Republic

    • One Day can Change a Country

      Anna Stransky World Politics

      The Netherland’s relationship with Russia drastically changed after July 17th, 2014, when the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down.

    • Why is chain migration so controversial?

      The Economist World Politics

      The American president’s family benefited from it. He himself is less keen.

    • The Czech Republic’s present for its 100 year anniversary: an alcohol-basted pig

      Martin Jan Stránský Czech Politics

      “I like reporters, perhaps I will invite them for dinner to the Saudi consulate“.


      Thus spoke the president of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman on Oct 24.  Besides his acknowledged alcoholic dysfunction, the current president is an outspoken supporter of Russia and an avid hater of journalists.


      So Czech Republic, happy birthday to you and to your citizens, who tolerate being represented by a foul-mouthed drunk on this, the centennial anniversary of the country. 


      But to be fair, the Czech Republic is not alone. On the other side of the pond there is another country that is trying to ignore the surrealistic nightmare of its current president as well.  Both presidents are hostage to their pathologic narcissism, with its resultant degradation of values.


      Martin J Stránský MD

      Publisher, Přítomnost and The New Presence (

      Great-grandson of Adolf Stránský the country’s first Minister of Commerce in 1918 and one of Czechoslovakia’s founders.

    • We are the future of Europe, says Viktor Orban

      Martin Jan Stránský World Politics

      When we lose, we stay. And we will return.

      – excerpts from a private speech by Viktor Orban.

    • Russia´s post-invasion trauma

      Vydavatelstvi MJS World Politics

      From the Friday´s Fleet Sheet Edition.

    • The Stupidification of Democracy Has Spilled into the Czech Lands

      Vydavatelstvi MJS Czech Politics

      A Czech journalist Jan Urban gives thoughts on the current post-modern political reality (not only) in the Czech Republic, reminding us on the principles of democracy. "One of the best analysis I have read in years" Martin Jan Stránský, publisher of The New Presence.

    • China Seeks Influence in Europe, One Business Deal at a Time

      Vydavatelstvi MJS World Politics

      Czech president Milos Zeman and his baffling policy towards China under scrutiny of NY Times.

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