Euro Persephone here with all of the latest news and information from across the pond. This week includes the shocking revelation that Hamlet was not actually Danish, a discovery that ancient Spain took part in ritualistic mushroom trips, and the former French President Jacques Chirac is set to stand trial. Replete with links and alphabetized for your pleasure, do enjoy this week’s European news roundup:
Belarus: U.N. Retracts Weapons Claim
A spokesman for the Secretary General of the U.N. accused Belarus of defying an arms embargo against the Ivory Coast and shipping weapons there anyway. Belarus denied the claims and this week the U.N,’s peacekeeping chief said he had received erroneous information. The U.N. has since apologized. Read more.
Denmark: Hamlet NOT Danish?
It seems like Shakespeare’s Danish hero isn’t Danish at all. That’s at least what Dr. Lisa Collinson from Aberdeen University has found out in her research. Read more.
France: Former French President Jacques Chirac to Stand Trial
The basic plot is this: Before Chirac was president, he headed up a scheme to get City Hall to pay for 2.2 million dollars of work to aid his political party. Nobody is really expecting the 78-year-old to go to jail. However, it does set an interesting precedent as the current president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has had his own hands dirtied in a number of recent scandals. Read more.
France: Face Veil Ban Will be Enforced in April
The mostly symbolic law that forbids anybody from covering their face in public is said to go into full effect this April. It will allow police officers to summon anybody covering their face to the police station where they will be asked to remove their cover. If they refuse they will be fined 150 Euros. Even though the number of veiled women in the entire country totals less than 3,000, the French government will be printing out pamphlets for city halls and putting up posters to warn renegade niqabis. Read more.
Germany: Merkel Announces Two New Ministers
So, you don’t get to keep your minister job, if you cheated in your Ph.D. thesis. On Tuesday last week, the pressure became too much and new ex-minister Guttenberg stepped down. Now Germany has a new defense minister, Thomas de MaiziÃ¨re, who was the interior minister before and a new Interior Minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, who was relatively unknown started out his job with saying that Islam doesn’t belong to Germany and that fact is historically proven. I’m sure he’s a lovely chap. Read more.
Germany: Two U.S. Soldiers Have Been Killed and Two Injured in an Attack at Frankfurt Airport
On Wednesday, a 21-year-old man attacked a group of American soldiers, killing two and injuring two more. The man is now in custody and the German authorities are working closely together with American investigators. There’s evidence that the man is a radical Islamist, however, it is not clear whether he has links to terror groups. Read more.
Ireland: Queen to Visit Ireland for First Time
Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen has accepted an invitation from the President of Ireland. It will be the first official tour of the Republic by a monarch. George V was the last of the royals to go to Ireland in 1911 when it was still part of the U.K. The trip is set for sometime in May. Read more.
Italy: Prime Minister Berlusconi Agrees to Attend All Hearings
In Italy, the prime minister has been charged with having sex with an underage prostitute. His attorney signaled this week that, indeed, they have cleared his schedule so he could attend his hearings. Berlusconi has been charged with various crimes 17 times since he became prime minister. So far none of those charges have stuck. Read more.
Netherlands: Dutch Helicopter Crew Captured While Attempting to Fly Foreigners Out of Libya
A Dutch helicopter landed near Sirte to meet and fly out two Europeans. Libyan officials say that it was in breach of international law when the armed helicopter entered Libyan air space, which is why the crew was captured. The crew was shown on state TV and had contact with the Dutch defense ministry. They seem to be doing fine under the circumstances. Read more.
Poland: New U.S. F-16 Base in Poland Confirmed
U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski have confirmed the construction of a new permanent U.S. Air Force base in Poland. Additionally, missile defenses will be built, something which is being heavily criticized by Russia. Read more.
Spain: Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Found in Cave Paintings
While currently outlawed in Spain, “magic mushrooms? have been discovered in 6,000 year old cave paintings near the town of Villar del Humo. These paintings indicate that these mushrooms were used in a number of ancient religious ceremonies. Similar paintings of mushroom use have also been found dating as far back as 9,000 years in Algeria. Read more.
Sweden: New Rights for Illegal Immigrants
The Swedish government has agreed to give illegal immigrants the right to government-funded healthcare and education and to make it possible for them to start their own businesses. Who would have thought that there are countries who recognize illegal immigrants as human beings? Read more.
Sweden: Swedes Remember Olof Palme
25 years ago, Olof Palme, then prime minister of Sweden, was assassinated. The murder sent shockwaves through the country and because the murderer was never found, plenty of conspiracy theories still swirl around. Read more.
U.K.: HSBC Thinking of Moving Headquarters?
Europe’s largest banking system has been fielding rumblings about a possible move from London to Hong Kong. A new banking levy that went into place supposedly has share holders discussing the cost of their headquarters remaining in the U.K. Read more.