Round-up of news stories from across the EU 12.8.16

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EU: How a team of journalists investigated Europe’s €1.2 billion arms trade with the Middle East (IJNet, link):


"OCCRP, a network of investigative reporters based in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, partnered with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) to produce "Making a Killing." The investigation found that Eastern European governments continued to approve mass weapons exports to countries like Saudi Arabia, despite evidence that many of these weapons may end up in war-torn countries like Syria. Even though government leaders insist otherwise, experts told BIRN and the OCCRP that this trade most likely violates international law."

EU: Thousands call on EU chiefs to act over Barroso controversy (euronews, link):

"More than 4,000 people have signed a petition calling for EU chiefs to act over a controversy involving José Manuel Barroso.

The former European Commission (EC) president sparked fury when he took up a role with US bank Goldman Sachs in early July, the latest case in Brussels’ long-running ‘revolving doors’ saga, where senior EU staff move into the private sector and vice-versa.

Critics say it means former EU employees can tell business how to lobby Brussels to get the legislative changes they want."

'Faceless Recognition System' Can Identify You Even When You Hide Your Face (Motherboard, link):

"With widespread adoption among law enforcement, advertisers, and even churches, face recognition has undoubtedly become one of the biggest threats to privacy out there.

By itself, the ability to instantly identify anyone just by seeing their face already creates massive power imbalances, with serious implications for free speech and political protest. But more recently, researchers have demonstrated that even when faces are blurred or otherwise obscured, algorithms can be trained to identify people by matching previously-observed patterns around their head and body."

FRANCE: Burkinis banned on French Riviera – to make people safer (The Independent, link):

"The mayor of Cannes has introduced a ban on burkinis to “ensure security”, the French authorities confirmed.

The local mayor, David Lisnard, introduced the ban at the French Riviera resort to prohibit “beachwear ostentatiously showing a religious affiliation while France and places of religious significance are the target of terror attacks”.

The ruling says: “Access to beaches and for swimming is banned to anyone who does not have (swim wear) which respects good customs and secularism.”"

GERMANY: Eine Weltkarte der Videoüberwachung [A worldmap of video surveillance] (, link):

See all the known surveillance cameras in the world on a map? That's the aim of a new interactive map made using OpenStreetMap and listing surveillance cameras around the world.

ITALY: Roma Women’s Business Plan: Cook Their Way to a Better Life (New York Times, link):

"Those challenges include a deeply ingrained prejudice against Roma people prevalent in Italian society, xenophobia stirred by ultraright groups across Europe, and resistance from the more tradition-minded members of the Roma community.

In theory, Italy’s national policy aims to integrate the Roma, in accordance with European Union recommendations. In practice, results have been negligible, and municipal governments instead fund and maintain the construction of Roma camps in major cities throughout the country.

The camps have drawn criticism for violating Roma rights. They not only fail to meet minimum standards for adequate housing, but also reinforce Roma segregation, said Carlo Stasolla, the president of Associazione 21 Luglio, a nonprofit organization that works for Roma people."

Poland’s constitutional crisis deepens after court verdict (Politico, link):

"Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled Thursday that a new law regulating its own functioning is in part unconstitutional — a decision that threatens to escalate its long-running row with the right-wing Polish government.

The Law and Justice party (PiS) government has already refused to recognize the tribunal’s negative verdict delivered in March on an earlier version of a law regulating how the court should organize its work. Last month the PiS-dominated parliament passed a new law — formally approved on July 30 and due to take effect on August 16 — spelling out the functioning of the 15-judge tribunal.

The regulation was challenged by Polish opposition parties, who sent it to the tribunal for scrutiny, which prompted Thursday’s verdict."

UK: Britain First High Court Battle Could Cause A Major Problem For The Far-Right Group (The Huffington Post, link):

"The leaders of Britain First will appear in the High Court next month to fight an injunction that could see the far-right group barred from entering every mosque in England and Wales for three years.

The injunction is being brought by Bedfordshire Police and would also ban Britain First from entering Luton without permission or directing activists into the town.

The hearing - originally scheduled for next Monday - could have serious ramifications for the group and even mean the end of Britain First."

UK: Prison violence and self harm rockets at Cumbria jail (North-West Evening Mail, link):

"SHOCKING new statistics show levels of prison violence and self harm have more than doubled within HMP Haverigg over the past year.

There have been 30 serious attacks by prisoners against other inmates at the correctional facility near Millom in the last 12 months - up from 15 in 2014.

Prison staff were also subject to four serious assaults while working at the jail last year, the same number as during 2014."

UK: Trial collapses after prosecution expert revealed to be disgraced ex-police officer (Liverpool Echo, link):

"A ‘crash for cash’ trial collapsed when the prosecution’s expert witness was revealed to be a disgraced former police officer.

Six people were accused of being involved in a plot to stage a collision between two cars in Wirral .

Ex-police sergeant James Boothby, 54, gave evidence on behalf of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Mersey-Cheshire.

But afterwards one of the defendants searched online and discovered Mr Boothby was sacked from Lancashire Police over his “dishonesty” in 2010.

Prosecutors at Liverpool Crown Court told the jury they could no longer rely on their expert and offered no evidence, leading to formal not guilty verdicts be entered. "

USA: To Stop ISIS Recruitment, Focus Offline (Lawfare, link):

"Editor's Note: The Islamic State emerged as social media was taking off around the globe, and endless news stories and pundit commentary discusses its skill at mastering this new form of communication. While the ubiquity of Islamic State social media propaganda is clear, its effect is more contested. Seamus Hughes of George Washington's Program on Extremism argues the role of the Internet is real but overblown. If we want to stop terrorist recruitment, it still requires a focus on stopping in-person contact."

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