Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
by Fran on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:26:26 PM EST
Number of babies born in prison soars - Home News, UK - The Independent

The number of children born behind bars has almost doubled since Labour came to power, with new figures showing women prisoners currently giving birth at nearly four a week.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that 283 children were born in prisons in England and Wales between April 2005 and July this year, an average of 1.7 a week. But 49 babies were born between April and the beginning of July this year alone, almost four a week, meaning the 2008 total could reach nearly 200 if births continue at the same rate, more than double the 64 prison births recorded in 1995-96 before Labour came to power.

Prison reformers demanded that women should be locked up only in extreme circumstances, saying that keeping mothers and young babies in prison can harm young children and does nothing to cut crime.

The number of women in jail has nearly doubled in the past decade and stands at more than 4,500. Most women are in for non-violent offences, with about a third jailed for theft or handling stolen goods; in 2006, nearly two-thirds served less than six months.

by Fran on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:33:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Polish summit row heats up afresh - EUobserver

Bickering over who should represent Poland at the intergovernmental level threatens to spill over into a second EU summit, after the political party of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he will stay home on 7 November if the president goes to Brussels.

"If the president insists, the premier won't go. Let the president put forward Poland's position on the [financial] crisis alone," a senior member of Mr Tusk's liberal Civic Platform party told Polish newspaper Dziennik on Sunday.

Mr Tusk (l) and Mr Kaczynski saw the last summit dominated by coverage of who used which plane to fly to Brussels

"The president has already confirmed his plans. He's spoken with the French [EU presidency]. From what we hear, there are no problems to have two chairs," said Adam Bielan, a spokesman for President Lech Kaczynski's conservative Law and Justice faction.

The two leaders both turned up for the last EU summit on 15 October, with an angry Mr Tusk forced at times to send away his foreign minister and finance minister from the top table to let the president take one of Poland's official seats.

by Fran on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:35:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK defence minister supports EU army - EUobserver

The freshly appointed UK defence secretary has publicly supported the idea of a European army, a key ambition of the French EU presidency.

Speaking to the country's Sunday Times newspaper yesterday (26 October), John Hutton, who took on the defence portfolio on 3 October, was asked about the prospects for an EU force.

UK defence secretary Hutton is supportive of French designs for an EU army

He said: "I think we've got to be pragmatic about those things. I think that's perfectly sensible. France is one of our closest allies, and the French believe very strongly in this type of role. If we can support it, we should."

French President Nicholas Sarkozy, whose country currently chairs the EU's six-month rotating presidency, wants the bloc's existing military framework to have a new headquarters and each member state to commit 1,500 troops to rapid reaction forces.

by Fran on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:35:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Czech Republic rejects EU villain role - EUobserver

The Czech Republic is being unfairly painted as an EU villain ahead of its presidency next year, Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg has said as the country gears up to take over the EU chair in January.

The Czech Republic's reputation as a highly eurosceptic country is "false," Mr Schwarzenberg told French daily Le Monde in an interview published on Saturday (25 October).

Mr Schwarzenberg (l) shaking hands with French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner

"We are not more eurosceptic that other countries in Europe, and I regret that we are being presented as the bad [characters] in the play," he said.

Referring to the country's outspoken EU-hostile president, Vaclav Klaus, the diplomat underlined he "has his own opinions," but added that "it is the government that forms foreign and European policy."

by Fran on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:36:25 PM EST
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Yes, I pointed this out several times: Klaus is one thing, the government another. Schwarzenberg is very Europhile himself.

On the other hand, if Klaus succeeds in orchestrating a coup to replace unpopular PM Topolánek without snap elections, the government may become more Eurosceptic.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:04:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How Merkel Lost Her Mojo: Financial Crisis Exposes German Leader's Weaknesses - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The financial crisis and the threat of recession are revealing German Chancellor Angela Merkel's weaknesses and could contribute to a dramatic change in her party's prospects in next year's election. The Social Democrats, sensing an opportunity, are already planning their attack.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had not seemed quite this alone for some time as she stood posing for a photograph surrounded by the 16 male governors of Germany's states. The men, smiling their politicians' smiles, look more grim than friendly, while Merkel's smile seems more tortured than anything else.

by Fran on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:38:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Muslim Integration : Why No One Protested against Germany's Biggest Mosque - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The biggest mosque in Germany opened in the city of Duisburg on Sunday and has already become a symbol of successful integration. Unlike other mosque projects in Germany, there was virtually no protest from the local community.

The tent next to the mosque in the Marxloh district of Duisburg, an industrial and mining town in the Ruhr region of Germany, can accommodate 3,500 people but it wasn't big enough for the crowd that turned out on Sunday.

Thousands of Duisburg citizens had to stand outside to witness this historic day on a giant public viewing screen. The biggest mosque in Germany has been opened and it includes a meeting center for the whole district -- an unprecedented project in Germany.

by Fran on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:39:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a very pleasant story.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:59:08 AM EST
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Muslim Integration : Why No One Protested against Germany's Biggest Mosque - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Why did everything pass off so smoothly in Marxloh? Is it because the 34-meter minaret is only half as high as the spire of the local Catholic church? Or because the Islamic community decided from the start to do without the muezzin call?

Those could be two symbolic issues that contributed to the success. But far more important is the simple fact that the people of Marxloh sat down and talked to each other. They talked openly without fear or prejudice, and without inhibitions.


"We stand by one another, our generation is ready to take over responsibilities," [press spokesman Mustafa Kücük] says. And because his generation believed that a building like that needed support from the whole community, it set up a panel to allow the whole district to discuss the project.

The panel also included Catholic priest Michael Kemper. His church, St. Peter's, is just 300 meters away from the mosque. "I was in favor of building the mosque from the start," said Kemper. "After all, it's a house of God."

The priest praised the friendly relations with the Muslim community. Many Muslim children visit the Catholic kindergarten, and Catholics and Muslims visit each other's festivals.

What an amazing and unexpected turn of good news.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:56:46 AM EST
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Why did everything pass off so smoothly in Marxloh? Is it because the 34-meter minaret is only half as high as the spire of the local Catholic church? Or because the Islamic community decided from the start to do without the muezzin call?

Lemme highlight the underlying assumption behind these rhetorical questions: that integration is the 'job' of immigrants (only).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 01:48:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i wonder of christian churches have bells to call the faithful in muslim countries...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 07:14:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Video: British talks with Syria in disarray after US military raid - Times Online

Britain and Syria cancelled a planned joint press conference of their foreign ministers in London today as the fall-out continued over an American military raid into Syrian territory that left eight civilians dead.

The attack threatens to overshadow what was a long-planned visit to London by Walid Muallem, the Syrian Foreign Minister, aimed at repairing the two countries' rocky relationship under the leadership of Tony Blair.

Damascus has been incensed by the attack, which Washington has yet to comment on. David Miliband had hoped to capitalise on Syria's desire for stronger ties with the West to persuade it towards a more active role in the search for Middle Eastern peace. But talks today will inevitably be dominated by Syrian protest over the American military action.

A statement from the Foreign Office said that British and Syrian officials "have agreed that it would not be appropriate to hold a formal press conference as planned." The Syrian Embassy, however, confirmed that Mr Muallem would go ahead with a solo briefing at which he was expected to denounce the incursion.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:41:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that explains the attack.
by det on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:23:42 AM EST
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Referencing Fran's story from above...

France is one of our closest allies

and, it would seem, the only one the British should trust.

Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying

by RogueTrooper on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:57:20 AM EST
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Nato officers rent villa owned by Naples Mafia boss Antonio Iovine - Times Online

American Nato officers have been renting a villa near Naples for years that belongs, indirectly, to Antonio Iovine, a clan chieftain of the Camorra, the Neapolitan Mafia.

Mr Iovine, 44, nicknamed "o'ninno" -- the baby -- because of his small stature, is wanted for murder and other crimes, and is listed among the 30 most dangerous criminals in Italy. He has been on the run for 12 years.

According to an investigation that was published in Corriere della Sera yesterday the villa of Mr Iovine may be only the tip of an iceberg. Italian police sources suggested that there were scores of similar cases in the Naples area of Nato service personnel living in houses that were owned by the Camorra. There are several Nato facilities in the area, notably a US telecommunications centre in Bagnoli and the US Air Force base at Capodichino.

"It's ludicrous, isn't it? The coffers of Nato, to which Italy also contributes, are helping to fill the coffers of the Camorra," Franco Roberti, the co-ordinator of the local anti-Mafia bureau, said.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:41:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Europe | Georgia's PM fired by president

President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia has announced that he is replacing his prime minister.

"We took a joint decision with Lado Gurgenidze that he will no longer serve as prime minister," the president told a meeting of MPs.

He did not say why the decision was made. It is not clear if it was linked to Georgia's war with Russia in August.

Mr Saakashvili said he was promoting Georgia's ambassador to Turkey, Grigol Mgaloblishvili, to prime minister.

by Fran on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:43:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NATO Begins Anti-Piracy Mission as Experts Question Plausability | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 27.10.2008
The EU on Monday, Oct. 27 welcomed a ceasefire deal in Somalia as NATO successfully completed its first anti-piracy mission off the Somali coast. But experts questioned the current international efforts to combat piracy.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stressed the importance of cooperation between the two Brussels-based institutions during a regular meeting of ambassadors at the alliance's headquarters.

One area in which the two organizations are working together is in the fight against pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden.

While the EU's own operations are to begin shortly, de Hoop Scheffer announced that NATO had just completed its first anti-piracy mission by escorting a cargo ship delivering supplies to the African Union Mission to Somalia.

An Italian destroyer as well as British and Greek frigates arrived in the Gulf of Aden last week as the front guard of NATO's anti-piracy Operation Allied Provider.

by Fran on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:44:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DAILY NATION - Threat to weapons in hijacked ship drama

Weapons in the Ukrainian ship hijacked in Somalia waters risk being dumped at sea after the ship owners offered to pay ransom for the vessel and its crew.

The owners, Tomex Team, reportedly told the pirates that they were free to do whatever they wanted with the tanks and other weapons worth Sh2.6 billion ($35 million).

According to reports, the message said the pirates were at "liberty to destroy or throw the weapons into the sea" if they deemed it fit.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 04:02:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Commission Eyes Smoking Ban in All EU Bars, Restaurants | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 27.10.2008
The European Commission wants to ban smoking in bars and restaurants across the European Union, officials in Brussels said Monday, Oct. 27.

However, discussions on a smoking ban in all of the member states' workplaces are still at the preliminary stage, meaning any new rules are unlikely to be implemented before 2010.

"Clearly one of the areas which we would like to see covered (by the ban) is bars, restaurants and pubs, which are enclosed spaces where workers on a daily basis are exposed to passive smoking and to the consequences that passive smoking has on their own health and safety," said Chantal Hughes, spokeswoman of EU employment commissioner Vladimir Spidla.

Smoking bans currently differ widely across the EU. While Ireland was the first EU country to make its pubs and restaurants smoke-free, puffing cigarettes is still allowed in some pubs in Germany and Belgium. And smoking is still common in both bars and restaurants in central and Eastern European countries like Hungary and Romania.

by Fran on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:44:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I fear that here and to the East from here, this will be sabotaged like prior smoking bans.

Restaurant owners' idea of non-smoker area was to just designate half of a room as such. In workplaces, the law was followed by placing "Smoking area" tables everywhere where smokers assembled -- typically, hallways from where smoke creeps into rooms...

My own office is next to the staircase, with no separating door for the alley as on the two floors below. And the designated smoking area for the two floors below is of course the staircase...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 05:10:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany extends EU welcome to Uzbek spy chief - EUobserver

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Germany last week hosted Uzbekistan's powerful security chief, Rustam Inoyatov, despite his links to the 2005 Andijan massacre and the jailing, also last week, of a prominent human rights activist.

Mr Inoyatov flew to Germany on 23 October for official business as part of a delegation from Uzbekistan's National Security Service (SNB), and was still in Germany on 25 October.

A passenger jet in Uzbekistan. German authorities declined to confirm or deny the NGO reports

His trip was confirmed by NGOs Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Institute. The German interior ministry - responsible for security - denied holding any meetings with the SNB chief. The German embassy in Tashkent and the German secret service, the BND, declined to comment.

The trip was within the letter of EU law. Mr Inoyatov is one of eight names on an EU visa ban list, which was temporarily suspended in April and will permanently expire in November in line with an EU foreign ministers decision of 13 October.

by Fran on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 03:46:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nrc.nl - International - Taking the kids to school by car is dangerous
Dutch parents increasingly take their children to school by car. This makes the roads around schools less safe - and when it's time for them to go it alone, these kids have difficulty in coping with traffic.

Working mums Rebecca Verwey and Debbie Molier are standing on the square that separates three primary schools in a large new housing development Ypenburg in The Hague. Parents that drive their kids to schools? They do not have a good word to say about them. "They drive up too fast, open car doors without looking and in the mornings they park on the pavement to be as close to the school entrance as possible," Verwey says.

In the northern province of Groningen, councillors have had enough and are planning to ban parents from taking their children to school by car. And primary schools in the southern town of Gorinchem have already imposed a one-day ban "to make parents think".

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 04:12:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another strange Central European crime story met a bizzarre end.

In 1996, Robert Remiás, a witness in the case of a botched action by the Slovakian secret service against the country's President (they kdnapped his son, made him drunk, and wanted Austrian police to catch him for drunken driving) was blown up in a car bomb. Later investigators found ties to the Slovakian mafia.

Ahead of the 1998 elections in Hungary, a series of bombs went up  at the homes of politicians in Budapest. The same year, there were mafia executions, too -- the worst of them a car bomb against a police informant also killing three bystanders (the first mafia hit job with 'collateral damage').

In all of these cases, investigators followed trails to the same organisator: a certain Jozef Rohác, a mafioso with links to the Mečiar-era secret service.

However, Rohác disappeared. But in the early morning of last Sunday, he was caught by Czech police in Prague -- for drunken driving... It took them 10 hours to get the identity of the man.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 06:26:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your use of "mafioso" to describe Rohác intrigues me. Do you know anything about his eventual connections with Italian criminal organizations or the presence in Hungary of Italian mafias?
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 09:40:17 AM EST
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I may not be precise about English usage, but in Hungarian (as well as German, and Slovakian from what I saw), "mafioso" is today used as a general term for someone involved in organised crime. (Also as in: "Ukrainian mafia", "Kosovarian mafia", "beggar mafia".)

I'm not aware of the presence of Italian criminal organisations in the region, but I'm certain that the locally dominant organisations had connections. In fact, one you may be aware of: Semion Mogilevic. He was (is?) a godfather of the Ukrainian mafia, and was mentioned in the Litvinenko case. For long years, he resided in Budapest, with authorities unable to find any evidence against him, but then got help from the FBI, so Mogilevic just left. (Already before the mess in Naples.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 02:00:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am behind the news!!! Via Wikipedia I find Russian authorities arrested him for tax evasion in January this year.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 02:04:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FWIW, "mafioso" has become a term used to refer to almost anyone involved in organized crime.  Consider it one of your country's contributions to the English language! ;)

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Oct 28th, 2008 at 02:42:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]