Round-up of news stories from across the EU 16.5.16

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BELGIUM: Intelligence service monitoring 60 soldiers (Flanders News, link): "The military intelligence service is keeping a close eye on 60 soldiers. They allegedly displayed a kind of behaviour - in one way or another - that could suggest extremist ideas. The Defence department said that they will no longer be deployed in armed missions, but they will not be dismissed."


BELGIUM: Prisoners start new court action against Belgian state (Flanders News, link): "3 inmates staying in Vorst prison have initiated court action against the Belgian state. They argue that their basic rights are being ignored due to the continuing strike in Brussels and Walloon prisons. The latest complaints are just 3 more in a whole series. Other prisoners have won similar cases recently."

EU: Europe's Rule-of-Law Crisis (Social Europe, link) by Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE MEP: "Governments are created and fall apart, and politicians come and go; but democratic institutions should be spared from political interference. The sad reality is that, were they to apply for EU membership today, neither Hungary nor Poland would be admitted. Their people should weigh carefully what that means. Their current leaders claim to be defending national interests. But is it really in their countries’ interest to be sidelined by the US, NATO, and the rest of Europe?"

EU-UK: ‘Brexit’ Vote Worries European Up-and-Comers Lured to Britain (New York Times, link): "Silvia Luis, from Portugal, is thinking of attending university in Scotland. Sandra Martinsone, a Latvian, said she might apply for citizenship or buy property. Julie Miquerol, from France, has sped up her plans to open a start-up company in Spain.

They, like some 1.3 million citizens from other European Union countries between the ages of 18 and 35 who live in Britain, are hedging their bets and pondering strategies just in case Britain votes to leave the European Union on June 23."

NETHERLANDS: Amsterdam to give €10m to Jewish community for WWII local tax scandal (Dutch News, link): "Amsterdam city council plans to donate €10m to the city’s Jewish community to compensate for the way survivors of the Nazi death camps were forced to pay missed taxes on their return.

The money will go to community projects and be spent according to Jewish groups’ wishes, mayor Eberhard van der Laan said at the opening of the city’s new National Holocaust Museum on Sunday."

Powers gather to discuss IS in Libya, as foreign military ops increase (Middle East Eye, link): "Major powers were gathering in the Austrian capital on Monday to discuss the expanding presence of the Islamic State (IS) group in Libya, as reports spread of international covert military operations in the war-torn country.

The conference in Austria is being co-chaired by the United States and Italy, Libya's former colonial ruler which has faced a major influx of migrants and asylum seekers from the North African nation braving a perilous sea voyage.

It will "discuss international support for the new Government of National Accord, with a focus on security," said John Kirby, spokesman for US Secretary of State John Kerry, who will chair the conference with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni."

Snowden interview: Why the media isn’t doing its job (Columbia Journalism Review, link): "The Tow Center for Digital Journalism’s Emily Bell spoke to Edward Snowden over a secure channel about his experiences working with journalists and his perspective on the shifting media world. This is an excerpt of that conversation, conducted in December 2015. It will appear in a forthcoming book: Journalism After Snowden: The Future of the Free Press in the Surveillance State, which will be released by Columbia University Press in 2016."

UK judges to rule on death penalties for 'intellectually disabled' (The Guardian, link): "The fate of two Trinidadian prisoners, both of whom have been condemned to death despite having extremely low IQs, will be decided by British judges this week.

The two-day hearing at the judicial committee of the privy council (JCPC) in London may set an international precedent that could prevent the execution of people on death row who have been diagnosed as “intellectually disabled”.

The JCPC, based in Westminster, acts as an ultimate court of appeal for smaller Commonwealth countries, including many in the Caribbean that retain capital punishment. Justices from the UK’s supreme court hear its cases."

UK: Construction bosses ‘tried to hide evidence of their blacklist’ (The Guardian, link): "Victims of blacklisting by the construction industry, who were awarded a £75m out-of-court settlement, are to demand a police investigation into their claims that key executives tried to pervert the course of justice.

On Wednesday major companies, including Sir Robert McAlpine and Balfour Beatty, issued an “unreserved and sincere” apology in the high court to hundreds of workers for putting them on an illegal blacklist and denying them work over two decades.

The companies agreed to pay sums ranging from £25,000 to £200,000 to 771 people under out-of-court settlements to avoid a trial, while accepting that “their secret vetting operation should never have happened”. However, evidence disclosed before the settlement has led many of the victims to claim that there was an illegal attempt by executives at Sir Robert McAlpine to destroy evidence and cover up the involvement of key individuals when the blacklisting was discovered in 2009."

UK: Iain Duncan Smith's plan to place Job Advisers in food banks quietly dropped (Daily Mirror, link): "A plan to place job advisers in food banks has been quietly dropped by the Government, despite Welfare Secretary Stephen Crabb praising the plan just last week.

Iain Duncan Smith floated the scheme in October , suggesting a Job Centre advisor should be posted in food banks, to give people seeking emergency food parcels advice on how to find work.

The pilot scheme was criticised at the time, with Labour saying it "highlights the grim reality that people depending on emergency food is increasingly a central part of Iain Duncan Smith's vision for our social security system.""

UK: New move to impeach Tony Blair over Iraq War gains cross-party support (The Independent, link): "A cross-party group of MPs, including former SNP leader Alex Salmond, may renew their attempts to impeach Tony Blair following the publication of the Chilcot report later this year.

According to reports, Mr Salmond has begun rallying support for an attempted prosecution, pending the findings of the report, which will be released in July."

UK: Publisher's Facebook page deleted after posting criticism of Turkish government (The Guardian, link): "Facebook has denied involvement in the deletion of the page of a London-based academic publisher who had published articles that criticised the Turkish government and discussed the outlawed (in Turkey) Kurdistan Workers party.

The deletion sparked accusations of censorship against the social network, which has often been accused of siding with the Turkish government in battles over free speech. But Facebook says it did not delete the page, and Zed Books has accepted the claim. Both companies say they are trying to discover how the page was removed from the site, and who by."

UK: Report reveals frequent violence at youth prison near Rugby (Rugby & Lutterworth Observer, link): "A YOUTH prison near Rugby has been told it still ‘requires improvement’ after an Ofsted report revealed frequent cases of violence between young people and assaults on staff.

The report, published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, was part of an annual inspection of Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre.

Ofsted found overall levels of violence between inmates remained too high, and it also highlighted how assaults on staff, the number of restraints and the use of force had increased since the previous inspection in February 2015."

UK: The Immigration Bill – behind the headlines (Refugee Council, link): "As the latest Immigration Bill becomes law, our Parliamentary Manager Jon Featonby takes a look at what is, and what isn't, in it."

USA: Needed: More Snowdens - Ex-intel analyst (USA Today, link): "I was an active duty Marine working in signals intelligence in 2013 when Edward Snowden exposed the mass surveillance programs of the National Security Agency. Snowden’s alleged espionage had a lasting effect both on my work and on my attitude toward it.

As a cryptologic linguist and intelligence analyst, my day-to-day activities were directly compromised when I was suddenly unable to use certain methods and tools due to the leak. Not only that, Snowden’s action created a moral dilemma for me as a member of the intelligence community. I began questioning the morality of my work. If the public was outraged by what Snowden leaked, will they be outraged by how the U.S. is fighting terrorism?"

USA: Senate report on CIA torture is one step closer to disappearing (Yahoo! News, link): "The CIA inspector general’s office — the spy agency’s internal watchdog — has acknowledged it “mistakenly” destroyed its only copy of a mammoth Senate torture report at the same time lawyers for the Justice Department were assuring a federal judge that copies of the document were being preserved, Yahoo News has learned.

Although other copies of the report exist, the erasure of the controversial document by the CIA office charged with policing agency conduct has alarmed the U.S. senator who oversaw the torture investigation and reignited a behind-the-scenes battle over whether the full unabridged report should ever be released, according to multiple intelligence community sources familiar with the incident."

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