News digest: 13 January 2013
Albania Leaders Backtrack on Transparency Pledges (Balkan Insight): "After nearly a decade of doing so, Albanias government has decided to stop the publishing its decisions on the Council of Ministers website."
Albania working with Europol against organised crime (SETimes.com): "Albania is steadily deepening relations with EU law enforcement agencies in an effort to stop organised crime and consolidate the rule of law on its path to EU membership." See: Draft Agreement on Operational and Strategic Co-operation between the Republic of Albania and the European Police Office (pdf)
AUSTRIA: Media Markt ordered body and bag searches of staff claim (Austrian Times): "Managers at the branch of electronic discount chain Media Markt in the Austrian town of Krems have come under fire from trade unions after they allegedly forced 30 staff to allow their bags to be searched and also to have a body search carried out."
BALKANS: Agreement with EU, Germany to lead to asylum seeker solution (Tanjug): "A mechanism temporarily introducing visas for countries that are home to large numbers of false asylum seekers - including Serbia - is to enter into force in Brussels in three days." See also: EU Downplays Serbian Visa Concerns (Balkan Insight): "Commission spokesperson Michele Cercone on Wednesday confirmed that no EU member states had sought activation of a mechanism that would suspend the current visa-free regime with Serbia."
BALKANS: BIH and Serbia improve security co-operation (SETimes.com): "Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Serbia are working together to improve their security sectors as part of their common goal to join the EU and to increase anti-crime and anti-corruption efforts."
BALKANS: Croatia and Serbia at impasse on minority rights (SETimes.com): "Serbia is urging Croatia to address minority rights issues after a number of incidents in the new EU member country."
BALKANS: EU integration, corruption, refugees remain key challenges for the region in 2014 (SETimes.com): "Experts say common challenges, such as corruption, refugee issues and border security, need a regional approach and stronger co-operation between countries in southeast Europe"
BALTIC: Lithuanias Masked Ball, Media Freedom and Press Intimidation in the Baltic States (Re: Baltica): "A security services raid (Autumn 2013) on the offices of the Baltic News Service in Vilnius raises troubling questions on the safety of journalistic sources and how to respond to intimidation from the security services or government agents. A journalist from each Baltic country was asked to write a report on the issue with recent cases. The stories were discussed by the authors in a conference organized by the Baltic Centre for Investigative Journalists in Riga, November 2013."
BELGIUM: More buskers fined on the underground (flandersnews.be): "More and more buskers and beggars are being fined on public transport in Brussels. In 2012 only 12 fined were meted out. By last year this figure had soared to 128."
BELGIUM: Woman found guilty of slavery in West Flanders (flandersnews.be): "The proprietress of a West Flemish riding school has been convicted of slavery. She was found guilty of treating a stable hand as a slave for seventeen years. The slave had to work seven days a week and didn't receive any pay."
BOSNIA: Musician's foundation focuses on Roma children (SETimes.com) "Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) composer and musician Goran Bregovic achieved international fame as one of the region's top modern musicians. Through his foundation Gorica, Bregovic is hoping to give Roma children the same chance he had by providing an opportunity for musical education."
BULGARIA: Bulgarian Nationalist Leader Hooligan Case Referred to Prosecution (Novinite): "The Sofia City Prosecution has taken over the case in which nationalist party Ataka leader Volen Siderov has harassed a lady and assaulted a man." See also: Bulgaria Prosecutor Asks for Lifting of Notorious MP's Immunity; Bulgarian Ultranationalist Claims He Didn't Hit Policeman; Bulgarian Ultranationalist Leader May Face 5 Years in Jail; Bulgarian Nationalist MPs Storm TV Channel, Intimidate Guests (Novinite) and France Demands Apology from Bulgarian Nationalist (Balkan Insight)
BULGARIA: UNHCR to Update Position Paper on Bulgaria in April (Novinite): "UNHCR is about to publish a new report, assessing the reception conditions and asylum procedures for asylum-seekers in Bulgaria, at the beginning of April."
CROATIA: EC without comment on decision on Croat's extradition to Germany (dalje.com): "The European Commission does not wish to comment on the Zagreb County Court's decision pending appeal to grant the extradition of Josip Perkovic to Germany, saying on Wednesday it did not wish to comment on individual cases and that its role was to make sure that the laws in member countries were aligned with European legislation and to monitor the enforcement of said laws." See: Ex-intelligence agent Perkovic arrested in Zagreb on European warrant
CROATIA: Minister: EAW now applied in Croatia with no time limits (dalje.com)
CROATIA: You Tube joke leads to 10 years in prison (Croatian Times): "A young man in Croatia who insists he was just joking on You Tube has been accused of supporting terrorism and risks up to 10 years in prison."
DENMARK: Demonstration against freedom of information act draws hundreds (The Copenhagen Post): "Up to 1,500 protestors brandishing torches gathered in silence outside Christiansborg yesterday to protest against the new freedom of information law, TV2 News reported."
DENMARK: Justice minister: No harder sentences for attacks on artists (The Copenhagen Post): "Only a handful of artists are being threatened for using their freedom of speech, Justice Minister Karen Hækkerup (S) stated today in an open parliamentary council."
DENMARK: Pepper spray should be legalised, says Kjærsgaard (The Copenhagen Post): "Pepper spray should be legalised so that residents can protect themselves from assailants, argues Dansk Folkepartis values spokesperson Pia Kjærsgaard."
DENMARK: Police refuse to identify themselves (The Copenhagen Post): "Over the past five years, many residents who have asked police officers to identify themselves have had that request denied. According to a Gallup poll conducted for Berlingske newspaper, three out of ten people who have asked police officers for identification have been turned down. Along with their name, cops have refused to identify which station they were attached to."
EU: A window on the lives of Europeans is shut (Presseurop): "Launched in May 2009, Presseurop, in its present form, will close down on December 20 due to lack of funding. This marks the end of a journalistic experiment with a civic dimension, says the European press."
EU: Cameron to Tusk: I Stand by My Comments about Poles (Novinite): "British leader David Cameron has rejected Polish prime minister Donald Tusk's criticism over a comment about Poles who work in Britain and claim UK child benefits for their families back home." See also: Poland Vows to Veto UK-Prompted Changes to EU Rules on Migrants
EU: Final EU labour restrictions lifted for Bulgarians, Romanians (SETimes.com): "Citizens of Bulgaria and Romania are able to work freely across the EU now that all Union member states dropped the last remaining labour restrictions on January 1st. Earlier, Bulgarians and Romanians were able to work without restrictions in 19 EU countries that were not applying transitional measures."
EU: New EU rule to cause delays at airport security checks (Helsinki Times): "Passengers should prepare for long queues at airport security checks at the end of January when a new EU regulation enters into force."
EU: Revolutionary political reform needed as European Union faces crucial year (euronews): "There was a convivial atmosphere as European dignitaries gathered in Athens to formally kick off the Greek presidency of the European Union. But 2014 looks set to be far from harmonious as the EU braces itself for some crucial battles that will determine its future direction." See also: Protest in Athens as EU Marks Greek Presidency (Greek Reporter); Samaras: Greece and EU are leaving crisis behind them (Enet English) and Greece Officially Assumes EU Presidency (Novinite)
EU: Why has the EUs army never been deployed? (France 24): "As France urges the EU to create a fund to finance military operations of member states, FRANCE 24 takes a look at the pan-European army that was established nine years ago but has yet to be deployed."
FINLAND: US Marine Corps undertaking winter warfare training in Finland (Helsinki Times): "The infantry of the Finnish army is helping the United States Marine Corps (USMC) train for winter and urban warfare with nearly ten marines attending training in Finland this month."
France slaps Google with maximum fine, citing privacy concerns (France 24): "France's data protection watchdog on Wednesday fined Google 150,000 euros the maximum possible for failing to comply with its privacy guidelines for personal data." See: The CNIL's Sanctions Committee issues a 150 000 monetary penalty to GOOGLE Inc. (CNIL)
FRANCE: Ex-Nazi soldier charged over French massacre (Al Jazeera): "88-year-old defendant denies involvement in slaughter of 642 people in village during World War Two."
FRANCE: French cities ban controversial comic (Al Jazeera): "Mayors of several French cities have lined up to ban the shows of a comedian the government accuses of insulting the memory of Holocaust victims and threatening public order with anti-Jewish remarks." See also: Whats in a gesture? The quenelles ugly undertones (France 24)
FRANCE: French court upholds Muslim veil ban (The Local): "France's law banning Muslim head and face veils stood strong on Wednesday against another challenge. A young woman arrested for wearing a veil had sought its dismissal."
GLOBAL: New central 'Know Your Customer' database for banks 'under development', says SWIFT (Out-Law.com): "A financial data exchange is building a new central database that will allow banks to make 'know your customer' (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) checks in a bid to combat financial crime."
GLOBAL: Your Face and Name Will Appear in Google Ads Starting Today (Gizmodo): "It's party time, ladies and gentlemen. Exactly one month after announcing the move, Google has updated its terms of service, allowing the company to use your profile information in ads. That means your face, name and personal details will start popping up all over your network. Yay!"
GREECE: Agreement reached with troika on state defence industries (Enet English): "The government has received the green light from the troika for a controversial restructuring plan for the countrys main defence industry, which will see the company split into two."
GREECE: American neonazis express solidarity with Golden Dawn (Enet English) "American racist and fascist groups have been holding demonstrations this month outside Greek consulates in support of neonazi Golden Dawn." See also: Golden Dawn loses state funding
GREECE: Former defence ministry official lists kickbacks history (Athens-Macedonian News Agency): "Former defence ministry official Antonis Kantas, who served as alternate director for armaments purchases, wrapped up his four-day testimony before Magistrate for Corruption Gavriil Mallis on Friday."
GREECE: Greek farmers throw oranges during clash with police (Global Post): "Greek farmers used oranges to battle police in central Athens on Friday in a protest against a property tax on agricultural plots."
GREECE: Police use tear gas to disperse school guard protest (ekathimerini): "School guards protesting their induction into a cost-cutting civil service mobility scheme on Thursday clashed briefly with riot police outside the Administrative Reform Ministry on Vasilissis Sofias Avenue in central Athens, according to reports"
GREECE: Probe into New Year's prison 'party' (ekathimerini): "Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou called for the temporary suspension of 10 Korydallos Prison employees who had been on duty on December 31 following reports that Xeros held a party in the high-security jail with convicted members of another guerrilla group, Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire."
HUNGARY: EU commissioner calls public work acceptable during crisis (Politics.hu): "Public work is an acceptable and sometimes even indispensable tool in times of crisis, Hungarian EU commissioner Laszlo Andor said in an interview published in Thursdays regional paper Uj Dunantuli Naplo."
HUNGARY: Govt to pay compensation to families of 2008/2009 Roma victims, injured (Politics.hu): "The government has decided to pay compensation from the central budget to those injured in 2008/2009 attacks against the Roma and the victims families, a decree published in the latest issue of the governments official Hungarian Gazette said."
HUNGARY: Record amount of legislation in 2013 (Politics.hu): "A record number of 1,439 bills and government decrees and other regulations were approved last year, 144 more than in 2012."
HUNGARY: Roma MPs protest planned German occupation monument (Politics.hu): "Roma MPs of the opposition Socialists protested on Sunday the planned erection of a memorial in central Budapest to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the German occupation of Hungary." See also: Roma Holocaust documentation centre to open in Pecs
HUNGARY: Roma public workers data in danger of being misused, says minority council official (Politics.hu): "The Budapest Roma self-government chairman has said that the authorities are collecting the personal data of Roma public workers in order to register them, without their consent, on a national minority list, daily Nepszabadsag reported on Wednesday."
HUNGARY: TASZ urges rethink of online registration for elections (Politics.hu): "The system of online registration for next years elections opens up the possibility of voting fraud, rights organisation TASZ said on Wednesday, calling for the system to be redesigned."
HUNGARY: Time to declassify parts of ex-PM Gyurcsany lies speech report, says minister (Politics.hu): "Its time to partially declassify a report by secret services in connection with the leaking of the speech of ex-premier Ferenc Gyurcsany, Interior Minister Sandor Pinter told commercial news channel HirTV on Tuesday evening."
ICELAND: Former Landsbanki Manager "Psychologically Tortured" By Government (The Reykjavík Grapevine): "The lawyer for former Landsbanki manager Sigurjón Þ. Árnason says that his client is being "psychologically tortured" by the state."
IRELAND: Britain right to let Bobby Sands die, claims Israeli minister (The Irish Post): "ISRAELS Foreign Minister has praised Britains decision to let Irish terrorist hunger strikers commit suicide in 1981."
IRELAND: Coalition has scope to alter key parts of judiciary (The Irish Times): "More than 15 vacancies are expected to arise on the superior courts in the coming months, giving the Government a rare opportunity to reshape key parts of the judiciary."
IRELAND: Garda mole revelations damaging forces reputation (The Irish Post): "CONCLUSIONS from the Smithwick Tribunal and a lack of evidence to verify new MI5 assertions of a mole has damaged decades of policing in Dundalk, according to a Garda source."
Italy's city plan ruling sparks mosque row (The Local): "Italy's urban planners must give space to non-Catholic religious groups, a Lombardy court has ruled, sparking a backlash from the country's far-right Northern League party, which branded the decision a "disgraceful judgement"."
Italy's criminal defense lawyers to strike Jan. 13-15 (Gazzetta del Sud): "The Italian association of criminal defense attorneys on Tuesday said attorney-client confidentiality is routinely violated in Italy, undermining the integrity of the country's justice system"
ITALY: Child taken from nursery because of jobless mum (The Local): "A four-year-old girl was taken from a nursery in the Ligurian seaside town of Rapallo after a court ruled her mother was unfit to raise her." See also: Police take child away from 'parasite' mother (Gazzetta del Sud)
ITALY: Messina immigrants call for more dignified conditions (AGI.it): "A protest by immigrants sheltered at a tented camp in Messina has gained momentum."
ITALY: NSA used transoceanic spy system, says Der Spiegel (AGI.it): "The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) also used a transoceanic spying system to transmit data from Telecom Italia, amongst others, the German newspaper Der Spiegel reported." See: Inside TAO: Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit (Spiegel Online)
ITALY: Three police held for infamous Diaz raid (Gazzetta del Sud): "Three top policemen have been placed under house arrest to serve the remainder of their sentences for Italy's most notorious case of police brutality, a bloody raid on anti-globalisation protesters sleeping in a school at the 2001 Group of Eight summit in Genoa."
LATVIA: Is the case against 'Neo' a warning to Latvias whistleblowers? (Re: Baltica): "Attempts to take an acclaimed Latvian whistleblower to court more than three years after he released embarrassing tax details of the country's elite are raising serious questions about due legal process in the Baltic state."
LITHUANIA: Defence Minister met with Commander of US Special Operations Command Europe (The Lithuania Tribune): "On 7 January 2014, the Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas discussed co-operation of Lithuanian and US special operations forces in collective multinational missions, exercises and training events at a meeting with Major General Marshall Bradley Webb, Commander of the US Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR), the Ministry of National Defence has informed."
LITHUANIA: Foreign Ministry sent conclusions on the leak of classified information to Security Department (The Lithuania Tribune): "Lithuanias Foreign Ministry has completed an internal investigation and notified the State Security Department (SSD) in response to the conclusions of a classified probe that were published in the media."
LITHUANIA: Foreigner Registration Centre in Lithuania discriminated Buddhists and Muslims (The Lithuania Tribune): "The Lithuanian Equal Opportunities Omudsmans Office found that the Foreigner Registration Centre in Pabrade. failed to ensure the right to their residents to eat in accordance with their religious specifics."
MALTA: Malta's sale of EU passports causes controversy (EUobserver): "A British consultancy firm, Henley & Partners, stands to make tens of millions of euros for helping Malta create up to 20,000 new EU citizens-on-paper."
MOLDOVA: In a break from opaque communist past, Moldova bares all (Thomson Reuters Foundation): "Since 2011, Moldova has taken a few steps from its opaque communist past and moved towards greater transparency by opening up its books online. Now with the key to Pandoras box, civil society and the media are delving in to see what lurks inside."
MONTENEGRO: Montenegrin reporter beaten outside her office (dalje.com): "Journalist Lidija Nikcevic, a Niksic correspondent for the Podgorica-based Dan daily newspaper, was brutally assaulted late on Saturday night when a masked man beat her with a baseball bat as she was leaving her office."
NETHERLANDS: Electronic identity system DigiD is not so secure after all (Dutch News): "Some 150 people from the Amsterdam district of Zuidoost were prospective victims of identity fraud involving the governments DigiD security number, the home affairs ministry confirmed on Wednesday."
NETHERLANDS: German court drops case against 92-year-old Dutch war criminal (Dutch News): "A 92-year-old Dutch war criminal, on trial for murder in Germany, has been released after the judge hearing the case said there is too much uncertainty around the charge."
NORTHERN IRELAND: Permission given to include police in civil action over SAS killings (The Irish Times): "A civil action against the UKs Ministry of Defence over the SAS killings of eight IRA men has now been widened to include the police."
NORTHERN IRELAND: Thatcher considered redrawing North of Ireland border (The Irish Post): "MARGARET THATCHER considered changing the border in the North of Ireland to bring some predominantly Catholic areas into the Republic, British state papers have revealed."
Norway integration officials widen refugee settlement requests (The Foreigner): "2014 will see the need to settle 10,800 refugees, the highest number since 1994. The Directorate of Integration and Diversity is now for the first time asking 48 smaller council districts to make this move." See also: Record-number of asylum seekers granted permanent residence (The Norway Post)
NORWAY: 5500 persons forcibly evicted (The Norway Post): "During the first 11 months of this year, Norwegian police have transported out of the country 5.441 persons without legal residence in Norway."
NORWAY: Immigrants fear child care services (The Norway Post): "Immigrant parents in Norway fear and do not trust the Child Welfare Service due to its lack of multicultural knowledge, a new study concludes"
NORWAY: Major global firm in Norway admits foreigner discrimination gaffe (The Foreigner)
NORWAY: Researchers plan to use drones to count seals (The Norway Post): "The Institute of Marine Research will use unstaffed, automatic planes - so-called drones - to count the seal population."
NORWAY: Twice as many suicides in Norwegian prisons (The Norway Post): "11 people committed suicide in Norwegian prisons last year, which is twice as many as in 2012."
NORWAY: Visa-free zone ready for expansion (Barents Observer): "Russia and Norway are discussing expansion of the visa-free zone to cover the whole of Finnmark and Murmansk says Federation Council member."
POLAND: Katyn testimony confirms Allied Katyn cover-up, minister claims (The News): "Minister of Culture Bogdan Zdrojewski says a newly found testimony about the WWII Katyn Crime confirms Stalin's Western allies helped cover up the truth about the massacre."
POLAND: Policeman arrested over hit and run road death (The News)
POLAND: Russian rockets pointed at Poland (New Poland Express): "An important week in Polish-Russian relations got off to a difficult start last Saturday when the German newspaper Bild reported that Russia has deployed Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave on the Baltic coast."
PORTUGAL: Forced boarding of refugees on TAP plane in Guinea-Bissau was absolutely unacceptable, says Lisbon (The Portugal News): "Guinean authorities have this week informed the Portuguese Government of the conclusions reached following an enquiry into the serious security incident which took place at Bissau Airport on 10 December, when TAP employees were forced to let 74 passengers with fake documents board flight TP202 and carry them back to Lisbon."
ROMANIA: Hacker Cracks Into Romanian Spy Chief's Emails (Balkan Insight): "An unknown hacker called Guccifer, who previously targeted Colin Powell, has broken into a personal account of the boss of Romania's intelligence agency."
ROMANIA: Romanian PM about German MEP who proposed fingerprinting Romanian immigrants: Irresponsible and Nazi minded (Romania Insider): "Recent statements by German member of the European Parliament Elmar Brok (in picture), who proposed fingerprinting Romanian immigrants, triggered local and international reactions."
SLOVAKIA: 2013 saw extremism rising in Slovakia (The Slovak Spectator): "POLITICIANS should observe a consensus to not let extremists enter into the mainstream, and to not use the problems of Roma living in excluded settlements as a tool to gain votes. But there are strong negative feelings towards Roma among the Slovak population and politicians fear they would lose voter support if they were to a adopt a more welcoming approach to the minority, Grigorij Mesenikov, political analyst and president of the non-governmental think tank Institute for Public Affairs, said in an interview with The Slovak Spectator about the rise of extremism in Slovakia and its implications for the future."
SLOVAKIA: Costly military communication project to finish, finally (The Slovak Spectator): "ONE OF the most expensive and controversial public procurements ever undertaken by the Ministry of Defence will finally wrap up in 2014. Began in 2005, the ministrys agreement with British defence giant BAE Systems for the MOKYS project, a mobile communication system for the armed forces, is likely to come with a final price tag of some 200 million."
SLOVAKIA: Judicial independence under threat (The Slovak Spectator): "The saga around the election and the appointment of the new general prosecutor was one of the most politically charged issues of 2013."
SLOVAKIA: Roma reform and human rights strategy stuck (The Slovak Spectator): "Human rights hit a dead end in 2013 and it is yet to be seen whether the state will find a way out of the problems caused by the less than tolerant relationship between the proponents of gender equality and LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual) rights, and those defending the traditional family concept."
SLOVENIA: President Warns against Complacency in Security (The Slovenia Times): "Slovenia is a safe country but security should not be taken for granted, President Borut Pahor said as he addressed members of the Slovenian Armed Forces in Maribor. He moreover underlined the need for Slovenia to be among the most successful EU countries."
SPAIN: EC chief Barroso tells Catalonia self-rule vote is Spanish issue (El País): "European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso has told Catalan premier Artur Mas that it is not with the European Union executive bodys brief to comment on whether the northeastern Spanish region should be allowed to hold a referendum on self-rule, a Commission spokesman said Wednesday."
SPAIN: Eight arrests as Civil Guard moves against ETAs prisoners front (El País): "The Civil Guard on Wednesday arrested eight people for belonging to the so-called prisoners front, the only remaining operative arm of the terrorist organization ETA, as Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz described it." See also: Prosecutor seeks ban on protest in support of ETA convicts and Basque abertzale left accuses Rajoy of trying to block peace talks
SPAIN: French couple punched and spat on by security guards in front of children (El País): "A French couple has filed a report with the Civil Guard after they were detained and assaulted by two security guards in a hypermarket in Torrevieja (Alicante) while on vacation in Spain. The incident took place, in full view of their two young children, after a security alarm was set off as they left the store."
SPAIN: Spanish government faces abortion law dissent (Al Jazeera): "Opposition grows as People's Party presses ahead with plan to outlaw abortion for all but the most serious of reasons."
UK: Britain's wars 'have no strategy, says top military adviser (The Telegraph): " Prof Sir Hew Strachan, one of Britains leading military thinkers, says Britain bungled its involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and is guilty of strategic failure over Syria."
UK: Mark Duggan family reacts with fury to inquest verdict of lawful killing (The Guardian): "The family of Mark Duggan, whose death sparked the worst riots in modern British history, reacted with fury when an inquest jury ruled on Wednesday that police acted lawfully when they shot him, even though he had not been carrying a gun when he was killed." See: Mark Duggan family vows peaceful fight for 'justice' at vigil after lawful killing verdict (Evening Standard); David Cameron calls for calm after Mark Duggan inquest verdict and Mark Duggan case: armed police to wear cameras, says Met commissioner video (The Guardian)
UK: Met police want water cannon ready to use in Britain by summer (The Guardian): "Britain's biggest police force wants water cannon ready to be used on the streets of mainland Britain by this summer, official letters reveal." See also: Police to hear Londoners' views on arming force with water cannons (Evening Standard)
UK: No apology for writer after strip search (Irish Independent): "LUTON Airport has refused to apologise for forcing journalist Mary Kenny to strip, saying it was standard procedure."
UK: Racist bullying: Far-right agenda on immigration being taken into classrooms (The Independent): "The number of children seeking help for racist bullying increased sharply last year, as campaigners warn that the heated public debate about immigration is souring race relations in the classroom."
UK: Scottish media accused of ignoring anti-Irish racism (The Irish Post): "THE SCOTTISH media has been accused of ignoring the poison of anti-Irish racism by a woman who suffered months of vicious abuse." See: Victim of anti-Irish racism speaks of relief as Taig of the Day host found guilty (The Irish Post) and Racism probe after Glasgow cabbie tells brothers to stop speaking Irish (Irish Independent)