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News digest: 7 March 2013

Austrian with Turkish origins rejected by gym (Austrian Times): " “It is unbelievable that a young man with Turkish origins was denied membership at a gym due to his appearance”, stated Vahide Aydin, spokesperson for migration from the Green party"

BALKANS: Eastern Europe: For the rights of children beyond borders (AlertNet): "Worried by children being sent back to the Balkans from the EU States, Terre des hommes and ten NGO partners are looking into an analysis of these procedures of return. After this analysis, it will be a question of getting the systems of all the countries concerned to respect child rights and to ensure a follow-up of these children when they have gone back to the country of their family’s origin"

BALKANS: Media freedom increasing in some countries (SETimes.com): "The international organisation Reporters Without Borders noted significant media freedom improvements in Serbia and Croatia, prompting reflections by professional journalism associations of how conditions for press freedom in the region have improved"

Bulgaria names election date as protests continue (Balkan Insight): "Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said that early elections will be held on May 12, while demonstrators who caused the fall of the government said they would keep protesting." See also: 100,000 rally in new Bulgaria protests (Balkan Insight); Protesting Bulgarians threaten blockades, civil unrest and US Ambassador: Poverty sent Bulgarians to streets (Novinite)

CYPRUS: Authorities detain Syrian family who sought to reach Sweden (Cyprus Mail): "Fearing that asylum seekers in Cyprus are detained indefinitely, a Syrian family tried to sneak in and out of the country on fake passports to seek asylum elsewhere but were detained by authorities, their family has said"

Czech senate impeaches outgoing president Vaclav Klaus (Jurist): "The Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic on Monday voted to impeach outgoing President Vaclav Klaus for charges of treason. After a 38 to 30 vote, the Senate filed a complaint in the Constitutional Court averring that Klaus violated the constitution by refusing to appoint judges, refusing to ratify European treaties after adoption by the Senate and declaring a broad and controversial amnesty in January."

CZECH REPUBLIC: Klaus' amnesty remains valid, Constitutional Court not to check it (Prague Daily Monitor): "The Czech Constitutional Court (US) will not be checking the controversial New Year's amnesty declared by President Vaclav Klaus because checking amnesties is not within its jurisdiction, US secretary general Ivo Pospisil told journalists, referring to the US's decision Tuesday"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Police seek breach of peace charges for toy gun attack on Klaus (Prague Daily Monitor): "The Czech police have proposed that Pavel Vondrous, 26, be charged with breach of the peace for his airsoft gun attack on President Vaclav Klaus at a public event in north Bohemia last autumn, police spokeswoman Vlasta Suchankova told CTK Tuesday"

EU: Bulgaria and Romania to be denied passport-free travel (EUobserver): "EU interior ministers are Thursday (7 March) set to defer a decision on Bulgaria and Romania accession to the passport free zone Schengen zone. “I think it is clear that there will not be a vote or a decision at tomorrow’s council meeting,” said a EU presidency source on Wednesday." See also: Germany to keep Romanians, Bulgarians out (Deutsche Welle); Bulgaria, Romania not to enter Schengen in 2013, Netherlands says (Novinite); Schengen story gets hotter: President says seven are against Romania, PM rules out rumors (Romania Insider) and UK says Bulgaria, Romania 'weren't ready' to join EU (Novinite)

EU: Top EU official calls for 'level playing field' in battle with organised crime (The Parliament): "A senior European external action service (EEAS) official has called for greater effort to "restore a level playing field" in the battle against serious crime"

FRANCE: Exodus to the UK as French Jews escape antisemitism (Jewish Chronicle): "The number of French Jews crossing the Channel to find safe haven in the UK has surged as figures published this week revealed a 58 per cent increase in antisemitic incidents in France in 2012." See also: Sephardic Jews invited back to Spain after 500 years (BBC News)

FRANCE: Is Le Pen France's 'most popular' female politician? (France 24): " French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has said she was the country’s most popular female politician after coming second in an opinion survey, describing the top ranker, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, as a “stateless” politician"

Germany wants EU visa-free travel for Russian officials (EUobserver): "The German government has dropped its opposition to EU visa freedom for Russian officials but critics say it is moving too fast"

GERMANY: Balkan migrants - social problem or straw man for Germany? (Balkan Insight): "Reports about the number of impoverished migrants from Bulgaria and Romania are alarming Germany - but how accurate are these claims?"

GERMANY: Interior minister: We need populism (The Local): "Facing election this year, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich seems to have gone off-piste over immigration, warning that populist measures are necessary to avoid the threat of fascism, comments Hannah Cleaver"

GREECE: Golden Dawn MP stands trial over 2007 attack on student (Ekathimerini): "Golden Dawn MP and spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris is scheduled to stand trial on Thursday in connection with the mugging of a student in 2007." See also: Prosecutor orders probe into Golden Dawn documentary and UK TV shows Golden Dawn hatred (Greek Reporter)

GREECE: Police use tear gas to break up Halkidiki demo (Ekathimerini): "Police in Halkidiki, northern Greece, on Thursday used tear gas to break up a demonstration against the arrest of five suspects charged with participating in last month's arson attack on the offices and vehicles of the Hellas Gold mining company in Skouries." See also: Halkidiki residents blast police for questioning unaccompanied minor over arson attack

GREECE: Over 900 migrants deported from Greece in February (Ekathimerini): "A total of 902 illegal immigrants of various ethnic groups were returned to their homelands from Greece in February, the Public Order Ministry reported on Monday"

GREECE: Press freedom on the chopping block (Inter Press Service): "Saddled with a long list of woes brought on by an economic crisis, debt-stricken Greece now finds itself tackling a different kind of austerity than the one implemented by its European creditors: this time it is press freedom, not public budgets, on the chopping block"

GREECE: Prisoners riot in Nafplio over inmate's death (Ekathimerini): "Inmates at Nafplio Prison in the northern Peloponnese on Tuesday burned mattresses in the exercise yard and refused to return to their cells, prompting authorities to call in the riot police to restore order"

Infographic: Cybersecurity in 2012 (IFSEC Global): "As the brightest and best in information security gather at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, a number of industry reports are being released"

ITALY: Bari mayor stops attempted self-immolation (Gazzetta del Sud): "Bari Mayor Michele Emiliano on Thursday stopped a man from setting himself on fire in the foyer of the southern Italian city. Emiliano, who was doing an interview, stopped the visibly agitated 60-year-old man as he started to pour the fuel over himself"

ITALY: Former Italy prime minister Silvio Berlusconi sentenced to year in jail for wiretap (The Independent): "The former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been convicted and sentenced to a year in jail over an illegal wiretap."

Kosovo commission wants access to classified information (SETimes.com): "A parliamentary commission is considering changes to the oversight of Kosovo's intelligence agency after one of its security guards was arrested in connection with a bank robbery"

Lithuania and Serbia discuss bilateral cooperation (The Lithuania Tribune): "At consultations on 6 March in Vilnius, Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Vytautas Leškevic(ius and Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Ljubica Vasic' discussed bilateral relations and possibilities for cooperation, Lithuanian’s upcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union and Serbia’s progress in meeting the criteria for EU accession"

Macedonia police on alert for more unrest (Balkan Insight): "After two days of violent clashes in Skopje last week, police are closely monitoring social networks for fresh calls for more protests." See also: Macedonia violence blamed on election campaign

Mali crisis: French soldiers to be withdrawn in April (BBC News): "French President Francois Hollande has said his country will begin withdrawing troops from Mali next month." See also: EU training mission to Mali to be 'well back from front line' (BBC)

NETHERLANDS: Iraqi asylum seeker sets himself on fire (Dutch News): "An Iraqi asylum seeker set himself on fire at a refugee centre in Utrecht on Monday, news agency ANP said"

NETHERLANDS: Mayors nationwide given stop and search powers (Dutch News): "Parliament on Tuesday passed legislation allowing local mayors to impose 12-hour stop and search controls if they fear public order may be under threat"

NETHERLANDS: Petition forces parliament to debate EU referendums (Dutch News): "A citizens' initiative is set to force parliament to debate holding a referendum on any amendments to EU treaties"

NORWAY: ‘Fear of foreigners groundless’, researcher says (The Foreigner): "Norwegians should get used to and embrace the current influx of immigrants into the country, a researcher tells The Foreigner"

RFID Tags: Securing the Internet of Things (IFSEC Global): "Barcodes have long been the backbone of traditional supply-chain management. However, with tracking requirements becoming ever more rigorous in specific industries, there has been a tangible shift towards the adoption of RFID tags, as the technology of choice, for monitoring mobile assets."

ROMANA: Bucharest double the number of weapons seized in 2012 following hairdressers bloodbath (Romania Insider)

SPAIN: Immigrant groups say Spanish hospitality in danger (Inter Press Service): "“We used to be seen as really useful, and now we’re a pain in the neck,” said Roberto Suárez, an Ecuadorian who was complaining about proposed fines or prison sentences that could target Spanish citizens who help undocumented immigrants"

Spain to welcome the new Industrial Cybersecurity Center (Infosecurity): "Spain is addressing vulnerabilities in the cyber-hardiness of its critical information and communication technologies with the upcoming launch of the Industrial Cybersecurity Center (ICC)"

SYRIA: Stray Swedish weapons show up in Syria (The Local): "Syrian rebels appear to be using Swedish weapons, visible in a new video that has emerged from the civil war in which an anti-regime fighter cradles a well-known Swedish model of anti-tank rifle." See also: William Hague offers Syrian rebels armoured vehicles and body armour (The Telegraph); UK to send armoured vehicles to Syrian opposition (BBC News) and German restraint slows EU action in Syria (Deutsche Welle)

UK: Al-Sweady inquiry shown Iraq 'torture' photographs (BBC News): "A public inquiry into allegations that British soldiers mistreated and murdered Iraqi detainees in 2004 has been shown graphic photographs of alleged victims of torture"

UK: Army bases to shut ahead of Germany troop withdrawal (BBC News): "Four Army bases are to close as part of a shake-up to accommodate thousands of troops returning from Germany"

UK: Iain Duncan Smith: Germany 'woken up at last' on EU migration (BBC News): "The UK is to meet Germany and "a series of European nations who share our concerns" over introducing curbs on "benefit tourism", Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said"

UK: New guidelines could reduce wrongful convictions under 'joint enterprise' law (The Guardian): "As a result of pressure from the families of prisoners claiming wrongful conviction under a controversial law used to fight gang violence, guidelines have been issued which, lawyers believe, could prevent miscarriages of justice." See also: Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association

UK: Secret court hearing plans pushed through by government (The Guardian): "The government pushed through its plans for secret court hearings on Monday night, defeating amendments tabled by the Labour frontbench with significant majorities"

UK: Senior judge warns over deportation of terror suspects to torture states (The Guardian): "Britain will have to withdraw from the United Nations as well as the European court of human rights if it wants to deport terrorist suspects to states that carry out torture, the country's most senior judge has warned"

UK: SQUASH launch 6-month Impact Assessment of s144 LASPO in Parliament (SQUASH Campaign): "The event marked the launch of SQUASH’s 6-month report and impact analysis of section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO). It provided an opportunity to discuss what the MP’s, Lords, lawyers and academics could do to help, and highlight Mike Weatherley’s Early Day Motion (EDM) looking to extend criminalisation to commercial premises." See: The Case Against Section 144: A Six-Month IMpact Analysis of the Criminalisation of Squatting in Residential Properties, Under Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (pdf) and Homeless man Daniel Gauntlett dies frozen on doorstep of empty bungalow in Aylesford (Kent Online)

USA: Google says the FBI is secretly spying on some of its customers (Wired): "The terrorists apparently would win if Google told you the exact number of times the Federal Bureau of Investigation invoked a secret process to extract data about the media giant’s customers"

USA: President Barack Obama given power to use drone strikes on US (The Independent): "President Barack Obama could in "extraordinary circumstances" use deadly drone strikes against Americans inside the United States, the country's attorney general has said." See also: Holder: drone strikes on US soil legal in 'extraordinary circumstances' (Jurist) and: Drone 'nightmare scenario' now has a name: ARGUS (ACLU)

USA: Revealed: Pentagon's link to Iraqi torture centres (The Guardian): "The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the "dirty wars" in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country's descent into full-scale civil war." See also: From El Salvador to Iraq: Washington's man behind brutal police squads

USA: UN expert urges US to publish report on Bush-era detention, rendition program (Jurist)


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