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SOCIETY

Politis - Cyprus | 26/03/2015

Cypriots have lost all faith in the state

A new case of squandered public funds has come to light in Cyprus. Over the next 50 years the state will pay 50 million euros in rent for a building used by the country's water utility company, although the building itself is worth just under 14 million. There have been so many such scandals that the people no longer dare to hope for anything, the liberal daily Politis laments: "Have we become addicted to scandals? Have we become used to the idea that more and more such monstrosities will come to light as our country goes down the drain? It is the people who suffer the consequences of this plundering of public assets. When will it be stopped? ... Our politicians act as if they don't understand the most basic things: that the people have lost all interest not only in them and their policies but also in everything else. That they've lost all hope." (26/03/2015)

Super Express - Poland | 26/03/2015

Church must not keep silent about abuse

Representatives of the Polish Catholic Church are not obliged to inform the public prosecutors if they learn of a case of abuse by a priest, the spokesman of the Bishops' Conference of Poland, Józef Kloch, said on Wednesday. The editor-in-chief of the conservative daily Super Express, Slavomir Jastrzębowski, is outraged: "One can say with certainty that the Church representatives are harming their own interests, and therefore the Church, most with such a stance. Yet their strategy should be simple. Their slogan must be 'zero tolerance for paedophiles'. This is actually stated quite clearly in the Book of Matthew: 'If anyone causes one of these little ones - those who believe in me - to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.' This quote may seem extreme in its severity, but I like it very much." (26/03/2015)

Mladá fronta Dnes - Czech Republic | 26/03/2015

Czechs flipping out over US military convoy

Next weekend a convoy of hundreds of US soldiers will pass through the Czech Republic on its way back from a military manoeuvre in the Baltic to its base in Germany. For days now supporters and opponents have been mobilising public opinion for or against the military convoy and, in the eyes of the liberal daily Mladá fronta Dnes, blowing the issue out of all proportion: "It's remarkable with what vigour Czech society can react to a military convoy travelling from A to B. And how difficult the supporters of the different groups find it to accept that others hold different views. Sometimes it seems as if the third world war had already broken out, with its epicentre right here in the Czech Republic and above all in the social networks. This extends even to the choice of words. There's talk of 'Führer' and 'conspiratorial groups'. The players in these tragicomic battles really think they're at war. They really need to put a cold cloth on their foreheads." (26/03/2015)

Tages-Anzeiger - Switzerland | 25/03/2015

Campaign against Balkan immigrants nonsense

Young men from families that immigrated from the former Yugoslavia reportedly bullied fellow pupils at a school in eastern Switzerland. This violence must not be ignored, but the cliché of "Balkan machos" is unfounded, writes the daily Tages-Anzeiger: "Switzerland hasn't recruited the wrong foreigners, as right-wing nationalists claim. Rather it has aggravated the problem with a misguided migration policy. Still, the process of integrating people from the Balkans is advancing at a faster pace than the integration of Italians did 30 or 40 years ago. It's not just the construction companies, painters' businesses and restaurants founded, opened or managed by people from the Balkans that confirm this. It's also the growing number of young politicians, academics and skilled workmen. They are part of Switzerland. And they will stay here. There will always be setbacks in the integration process. But it's fatal to try and create fictional enemies." (25/03/2015)

NaTemat.pl - Poland | 25/03/2015

Ban billboards in Poland

The city of Warsaw has ten times more billboards than the considerably larger city of Paris. To counter this trend the Sejm passed a law limiting outdoor advertising on Friday. But even that won't be enough, the liberal-conservative politician Paweł Pisorski writes on his blog for the portal naTemat with an eye to Luxembourg: "This is a step in the right direction because municipalities can charge maximum fines of 5,000 złoty [1,200 euros]. ... But in fact this fine would have to be ten - or even one hundred - times higher to be effective. In Luxembourg, by contrast, there are no large advertisements or billboards at all. The country is small but economically well-developed. The regulation was simply agreed to and everyone observes it. Wouldn't it be better to adopt this solution instead of creating a whole set of new laws?" (25/03/2015)

taz - Germany | 25/03/2015

Facebook lawsuit shows consumers' power

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) began hearing  a case brought against Facebook by Austrian law student Max Schrems on Tuesday. The court will examine whether the US company is obliged to observe EU data protection laws. For the left-leaning daily taz the case illustrates two things: "Firstly, consumers are by no means as powerless as is generally assumed. The current plaintiff before the ECJ, law student Max Schrems, started out in a small way, simply demanding that Facebook hand over the data it had on him - and he ended up getting 1,200 pages of data. … Secondly, if a single user can achieve so much, what are governments capable of? Legislators who don't duck away from supposedly all-powerful companies and the US government, but have the courage to take a clear stance for consumers and citizens and their rights? … [Yet] the German Federal Ministry of the Interior has blocked a German opinion on the Facebook case." (25/03/2015)

The Press Project - Greece | 24/03/2015

National pomp unworthy of Syriza government

On March 25 each year the Greeks celebrate the anniversary of the rebellion against the rule of the Ottoman Empire in 1821. This year a big party is planned after the military parade. The celebrations are entirely inappropriate under the circumstances, writes Iasonas Triantafyllidis on the portal of The Press Project: "A progressive government should abolish parades. This outdated ritual developed by authoritarian regimes is meaningless. … Especially in the year 2015. I wish there was someone with the sensitivity but also the courage to get rid of the parades - particularly since this government describes itself as progressive. Instead there will be partying and dancing outside parliament after the parade on March 25. … I had hoped I wouldn't have to witness this. Those with dignity are those who don't owe anyone anything and keep their word. Dancing, festivals and parades are pointless here." (24/03/2015)

Magyar Nemzet - Hungary | 22/03/2015

Poor Hungarians want at least to shop on Sundays

Following a recent amendment introduced by Hungary's right-wing conservative government, shops in Hungary stayed closed for the first time on Sunday. The conservative daily Magyar Nemzet sees no advantages to shopping-free Sundays: "Hungarians don't like things being imposed on them. … Perhaps that's because the options are pretty limited here, not only for the poor, but also for the lower middle class. … Since the end of communism we have been free, but our lives are existentially confined. The Austrian pensioner is spoilt for choice trying to decide between a Mediterranean cruise or a trip to Prague while the most our Hungarian pensioners get to chose between is ham or bacon. Our politicians should know that in a society where people hardly have any options the tolerance threshold is exceedingly low." (22/03/2015)

Zaman - Turkey | 19/03/2015

German headscarf ruling exemplary

The German Constitutional Court's ruling last week that teachers may wear headscarves is exemplary for religious freedom, the Islamic-conservative daily Zaman comments: "Nowadays in Germany the headscarf is just as much an everyday symbol of belief as the cross. ... According to the constitution the state is obliged to guarantee religious freedom and the practice of religion for its citizens. To fulfil this obligation the state must regard all religions with the same neutrality. ... These conditions in non-secular Germany call into question the purportedly secular Turkey. As we know, secular Turkey is not neutral. The state ignores other religions and even marginalises them. ... Because the courts in Germany are sensitive in their interpretation of basic rights the kind of despotism we see in Turkey is virtually impossible." (19/03/2015)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland | 19/03/2015

The ECB also to blame for riots

Violent protests accompanied the inauguration of the new ECB headquarters in Frankfurt on Wednesday. The anger against the European Central Bank is to some extent justified, the liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung observes: "The ECB is very confident about its power. Its president Mario Draghi has promised that he will do enough to keep all the crisis countries in the Eurozone. In Frankfurt, consultations are taking place behind close doors about whether to cut off the credit supply for banks in order to force over-indebted Greece into insolvency. On far too many political issues the key player is the ECB, which is supposed to be independent and unpolitical. ... So it comes as no big surprise when accusations that the central bank is politicised grow louder. The inconsistent construction of the monetary union is increasingly making it a divisive force rather than a peace-promoting integration project." (19/03/2015)


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