Hello from Europe! We’re some of the Persephone writers, who from now on will write weekly updates on what’s going on in Europe. All neatly summarized and with a link for more information. So let’s start the first week with a lying minister in Germany, protests in Greece, elections in Ireland and more!
Belgium: 250 Days Without a Government and Counting
So, the Belgian parties simple can’t agree on a government. All the basic things in the country are obviously still working, but it can’t be denied that the country needs a government soon to take care of important issues. But for now, it’s not looking good and there’s even talk about splitting the country! Read more.
Denmark: Immigration Minister in Trouble after Illegally Denying Citizenships
Up to 500 stateless people were denied Danish citizenship, even though, according to an UN convention, they had the right to receive it. Minister Birthe RÃ¸nn Hornbech already had to answer uncomfortable questions in a hearing, but is now in even more trouble after switching off the microphone in said hearing after, in her opinion, having answered enough questions. Read more.
Germany: Defense Minister Guttenberg Loses his “Doctor” Title, Keeps Job
First, he called the accusations of plagiarism “absurd,” then it was proven that more than 20% of his Ph.D thesis was copied or written by his staff ““ without giving them credit. So last week, the German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg had to give up his “Doctor” title. But his boss, Chancellor Merkel, doesn’t think that this is a big deal, so Guttenberg gets to keep his job. And that in the country where a secretary gets legally fired for “stealing” a sandwich that was supposed to be thrown out. Read more.
UPDATE: Today, Tuesday 3. March, the pressure became too much. Guttenberg resigned. Read more.
Greece: Heated Protests Against the Government
Protests in Greece heated up on Wednesday. In Athens and Thessaloniki, much of the country’s services ground to a halt as the private and public sector teamed up against the government’s new austerity measures. Nine protesters were arrested, ten needed hospital treatment and fifteen police officers were injured in the protests which included an estimated 30,000 citizens. Read more.
Ireland: At the Time of Writing, the Votes Are Still Being Counted ““ But it Looks Good for the Opposition
Ireland is the first of the EU-countries that received a financial help package from the EU to hold an election. After going from being the “Celtic Tiger” to almost bankrupt in no time, the Fianna Fail, dominant party for decades, is now probably being defeated by opposition party Fine Gael. Enda Kenny, leader of Fine Gael, promised to re-negotiate the terms of the help package, especially the interest rate. Read more.
Ireland: Survivor Relives Trauma
Survivor of Ireland’s recent Cork Air plane crash, Mark Hickens, is now talking to the press. From his hospital bed he relives his experience, claiming he focused on seeing his children again to get him through the experience. The crash claimed six lives, and left another six injured. Read more.
Spain: Greenpeace against Nuclear Power
In Cofrentes, Spain, Greenpeace activists managed to breach security at a nuclear power plant, climb one of the refrigeration towers, take pictures of themselves, and then spray painted “peligro” which means danger, on the tower. A plant security guard was injured by the activists and a number of them (although perhaps not all) were collected and sent to the courthouse. Read more.
Switzerland: Freezing Gaddafi’s Assets
Switzerland, known for its questionable banking procedures, has blocked the assets of Moammar Gaddafi and his entourage. The freeze will stay in effect for three years. Meanwhile, the Libyan foreign ministry (who clearly doesn’t have enough on their plate) has threatened legal action for “unsubstantiated claims” of misuse. Read more.
U.K./Sweden: Assange Ordered to be Extradited, Will Appeal
Judge Howard Riddle ordered Julian Assange to be extradited to Sweden, so that he can face the allegations of sexual assault. Assange, still afraid that Sweden will ship him off to the U.S., is doing everything he can to avoid this (and facing the allegations), and will therefore appeal against the ruling. Read more.
U.K.: United Kingdom Cutting Financial Aid
An international aid review document, set to be published later this week, reveals the U.K. is cutting direct financial aid to 16 countries, including Vietnam, Niger, Russia and China. There is a push by the U.K. government to concentrate aid on the 27 countries that account for 3/4 of the world’s maternal mortality and malaria-related deaths such as Ghana and Afghanistan. Read more.