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News digest: 25 February 2013

AUSTRIA: Succesful flight trials for Thales I-Master on Campcopter S-100 (Defence Talk): "Thales’ I-Master radar system has successfully completed flight trials on-board a Schiebel Camcopter S-100 UAS (Unmanned Air System). The flight trials on Camcopter S-100 took place on 7 February 2013 at the Schiebel test facility in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. The flights, each lasting several hours, successfully proved both sensor performance and the stability of data transfer between radar operator and the airborne I-Master."

BOSNIA: Bosnia forced to halt issue of personal numbers (Balkan Insight): "After a court ruled the law on personal numbers unconstitutional, Bosnia can no longer issue personal numbers to newborns and other people who lack them for some reason"

BULGARIA: Winter of discontent progresses to Bulgaria (Inter Press Service): "Bulgarian prime minister Boiko Borisov of the ruling centre-right Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria (GERB), announced his resignation Wednesday, following two weeks of sustained protests across the country which were sparked by rising electricity and heating costs." See also: Resignation of government fails to stop Bulgaria protests (euronews); Protest rallies of Bulgarians held again Monday and Anti-bank rally held in Sofia amidst two other protests (Novinite)

EU: A new chapter in Turkey's EU bid? (Deutsche Welle): " German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to start a two-day visit to Turkey on Sunday. Topping the agenda are talks with Turkish Premier Erdogan on economic relations and the sluggish pace of EU membership talks"

EU: German President Joachim Gauck uses major speech to call for 'more Europe' (Deutsche Welle): "President Joachim Gauck has used a nationally televised speech to call for greater cooperation among the European Union’s member states. The speech comes a year after Gauck took office as Germany’s head of state." See also: 'A timeless canon of values': German President makes plea for more Europe (Spiegel Online)

EU: Human trafficking is 'modern day slavery' (EUobserver): "Human trafficking is the slavery of our times with the victims a tiny cog in a corruption machine that involves highly-organised criminal gangs working across several member states, say experts"

EU: Pseudonymised data processing without consent should be permitted under data protection reforms, says MEPs (Out-Law.com): "Organisations should be able to process pseudonymised data without the consent of individuals, a European Parliament committee has proposed." See also: Industry Committee scrapes together a majority for a disastrous data protection opinion (EDRi)

EU: Roma exploitation: end of the dream (EUobserver): "Luludja works the streets in Frejus, a town on the Mediterranean coast in France. The holiday resort is not too far from Saint-Tropez, where the rich go to have their holidays amidst their yachts. The summer sees hundreds of thousands of tourists flocking into the seaside resort. That is when dozens of Bulgarian Roma prostitute themselves on the streets"

EU: The Flood?: Western Europe Fearful of Eastern Immigration (Novinite): "British, French and German politicians are all sounding the alarm. In 2014, Romanian and Bulgarian citizens will be given free movement within Europe's labor market. They are concerned about a wave of immigration, yet most of those who want to head west likely already have."

Germany to Balkans: Drop nationalistic rhetoric (Deutsche Welle): "German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, on a visit to Albania and Macedonia, stressed that Germany supported the region's EU aspirations. But, he warned that nationalistic tendencies could derail that process." See also: Germany reminds Albania of need for free elections (Balkan Insight)

GREECE: Arson attack on Exarchia police precinct (Ekathimerini): "A group of around 30 masked assailants pelted the police precinct in the central Athens neighborhood of Exarchia with firebombs late on Thursday night, causing damage but no injuries"

GREECE: Lagarde list inquiry extended to March 29 (Ekathimerini): "A Parliamentary committee probing the handling of the so-called Lagarde list of wealthy Greek depositors by former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou has decided to extend its inevestigation through March 29, it emerged on Friday"

GREECE: Thousands take part in peaceful protest against Skouries gold mine (Ekathimerini): "About 3,000 people are reported to have gathered in the Megali Panagia area of Halkidiki on Sunday to hold a peaceful protest against gold mining in nearby Skouries." See: Greece will OK gold mine project (Greek Reporter)

IRELAND: 550 women come forward for Magdalene compensation (Irish Independent): "The number of Magdalene Laundry survivors who have come forward for a new compensation scheme has now reached 550." See also: Warning over abuse 'justice gap'

IRELAND: 'Hostility' to neighbourhood watch (Irish Independent): "Some people who joined Northern Ireland's neighbourhood watch schemes initially faced hostility for co-operating with police, a report said"

'Killer robots need to be stopped now, before it is too late' says Human Rights group (The Independent): "A new campaign, aimed at persuading countries to ban the building and use of so-called 'killer robots', is gaining momentum after winning the support of academics, pressure groups and Nobel Prize winners."

Macedonian journalist returns awards in protest (Balkan Insight): "Zoran Ivanov said he was returning his journalistic prizes and quitting journalism after 40 years in protest against the growing politicisation and subversion of the media"

MALTA: Head of Security suspends himself (Times of Malta): "The head of the Security Service, Godfrey Scicluna, has suspended himself after a pedestrian initiated legal proceedings against him in the wake of a traffic accident." See also: Old man involved in security service car accident dies

MALTA: The challenges and benefits of integrating third country nationals (Times of Malta): "SOS Malta has launched a project which will be discovering the challenges and benefits of integrating third country nationals within the Maltese community"

NATO urges allies to reverse defense spending cuts (Ekathimerini): "NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged allies on Thursday to reverse damaging defense-spending cuts once their economies improve as U.S. officials warned of the impact that across-the-board U.S. budget reductions could have on the alliance"

NETHERLANDS: Border checks pick up people smugglers and illegal immigrants (Dutch News): "Random border controls by Dutch immigration police in 2012 led to 1,700 illegal immigrants being picked up and 250 cases of people smuggling being identified, Nos television reports"

NETHERLANDS: Former security service workers jailed for leaking information (Dutch News): "Two former AIVD security service officials have been found guilty of leaking state secrets to a Telegraaf newspaper journalist by the appeal court in The Hague"

SPAIN: Immigrants await government health papers, six months on (El Pais): "Despite pledges by health authorities across the region that undocumented migrants will be able to access Spain's public health system through a new insurance scheme, thousands of people have been unable to see a physician or a nurse because of delays in implementing the reform put forward by the Popular Party (PP) government last year"

SPAIN: Police detain 45 in “human wave” anti-government march in Madrid (El Pais): "Police arrested 45 people following Saturday’s mass demonstration in Madrid, in which thousands of protestors took to the streets calling for an end to the government’s austerity measures and demanding quick solutions to outstanding cases of public corruption." See also: #23F: mass demonstrations against financial coup in Spain (ROAR) and Spain police arrest 45 in Madrid after protest (BBC News)

UK: Britain's colonial shame: Slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition (The Independent): "David Cameron's ancestors were among the wealthy families who received generous reparation payments that would be worth millions of pounds in today's money"

UK: Britain's most senior prosecutor condemns 'cost before quality' plan (The Telegraph): "Britain’s most senior prosecutor has condemned a plan for Crown Prosecution Service lawyers to put cost before quality and keep high-earning cases in-house"

UK: 'Bungled' police and crime commissioner election failed voters (The Guardian): "Nearly 90% of voters in England and Wales have no idea who their police and crime commissioner is despite November's first direct elections, which cost £75m"

UK: English Defence League leader 'released from jail' (The Guardian): "The leader of the English Defence League, Stephen Lennon, is believed to have been released from jail, nine days before the anti-Islamist group plans to hold a demonstration in Manchester city centre"

UK: G4S takeover has been a 'disaster for asylum seekers (24dash.com): "G4S's takeover of asylum housing under the UK Border Agency's (UKBA) COMPASS contracts has been a disaster for asylum seekers and their families in Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East, a new report claims"

UK: Man, 84, dies at immigration detention centre (The Guardian): "An 84-year-old Canadian man has died after becoming ill at an immigration removal centre near Heathrow airport. Alois Dvorzac was said to be "extremely distressed" before being rushed to hospital on 10 February"

UK: UKBA's dispersal policy 'puts pregnant asylum seekers at risk' says report (The Guardian): "The health of hundreds of pregnant women and their babies are being put at risk by the UK Border Agency's policy of dispersing asylum seekers, according to midwives involved in their care"

UK: UK Border Agency defies MPs over deportation 'reserves' (The Guardian): "The UK Border Agency is under attack for ignoring demands from a cross-party Commons committee and the chief inspector of prisons to stop its "inhumane" treatment of some deportees." See also: UKBA letter to potential deportees institutionalises controversial 'reserves' policy (Corporate Watch)

USA: Afghanistan government accuses US special forces of civilian death and torture (The Guardian): "Hamid Karzai orders US elite force to leave Maidan Wardak province after local reports of disappearance of nine people"


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