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Népszava - Hungary | 23/10/2014

Orbán government drives children into poverty

One in every three children in Hungary lives in dire poverty, according to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation in September. The blame lies with Viktor Orbán's right-wing conservative government, the left-leaning daily Népszava believes: "35 percent of Hungarian children suffer from material deprivation, compared with 34.4 percent in Romania. In the other countries of the region, for example Slovenia, Estonia and the Czech Republic, that figure is around six to seven percent. ... Clearly the catastrophic economic policy is responsible for the situation. On the one hand hundreds of thousands of skilled workers are leaving the country, on the other the middle class is growing poorer by the day. The bottom line is: countless regions in Hungary (experts talk of 30 in all) are becoming increasingly backward." (23/10/2014)

Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia | 23/10/2014

Alcohol bans don't make Tallinn any more sober

The city of Tallinn plans to extend its ban on alcohol and now wants to prohibit alcohol sales on Sundays. The liberal daily Eesti Päevaleht doubts the effectiveness of such bans: "There's no question that drinking and the availability of alcohol are big problems in Estonia. But these plans are reminiscent of the unrealistic teetotalling dreams of the past. ... The sale of alcohol is to be banned on Sundays and within 300 metres of daycare facilities. And a mandatory closing time for restaurants is to be introduced from midnight on Sundays. ... To support these arguments reports have been spread about how young people have somehow managed to purchase alcohol. ... How about starting off by applying the laws that are already in force? Alcohol isn't banned completely in our country, and the countries that do prohibit it don't exactly stand out for their good drinking cultures. By contrast, the traditional wine-drinking countries don't have either binge-drinking problems or bans." (23/10/2014)

Avvenire - Italy | 23/10/2014

Protect teenagers from IS's online propaganda

German police took three underage girls from the US into protective custody on Saturday at Frankfurt airport. The girls reportedly wanted to join the terrorist Islamic State in Syria. Given the growing number of Western youths seduced by IS propaganda, action must be taken to fight the terrorist group on the Internet too, the Catholic daily Avvenire demands. "With its strategically organised 'victor' propaganda the IS is presenting a tempting and extremely accessible package on the social networks. The cheap flights and financial possibilities of the baby jihadists (mostly second-generation immigrants from well-off families) do the rest. ... The West must act in unison against this. If the IS does half of its 'work' online, we must banish it from the web. This is a form of ethnic censorship that has already borne fruit with the blocking of videos posted by the jihadists." (23/10/2014)

Jyllands-Posten - Denmark | 22/10/2014

Denmark must not be too critical of Turkey

A Dane of Lebanese origin who had been in custody in Turkey since April has been released. He was suspected of the attempted murder of Danish Islam critic Lars Hedegaard. Rumours are circulating in Denmark that Ankara released him in an exchange of prisoners agreed on with the Islamist terrorist militia IS. The liberal-conservative daily Jyllands-Posten urges caution: "The last few years have seen a return to realpolitik. ... This is cynical, brutal and often unjust. ... A Turkey that is not allied with Europe is more dangerous than a Turkey that is on Europe's side. Therefore Denmark must react in a way that shows its displeasure but doesn't isolate Denmark within the EU. ... When the microphones are switched on we must stand by Turkey as a difficult partner in a strategically important situation. Because all in all this is best for everyone." (22/10/2014)

Le Quotidien - Luxembourg | 21/10/2014

Social egg freezing is anti-social

The US companies Apple and Facebook use so-called social egg freezing to allow female employees to dedicate themselves to their careers before they have children. The liberal daily Le Quotidien sees no advantages: "First of all it's very expensive. Couldn't these companies put the money into daycare facilities instead? And as far as the frozen eggs are concerned there's a two-fold risk. Even if science progresses and late pregnancies become the norm, freezing eggs doesn't guarantee the success of pregnancies at an advanced age. In addition, with this system the employer may punish employees if they choose not to have their pregnancies at an 'opportune' moment - that is as late as possible." (21/10/2014)

Irish Independent - Ireland | 21/10/2014

Ireland must not leave renters in the lurch

The draft budget for 2015 presented by the Irish government last week foresees no rise in the rent supplement for the needy. Given that rents in Dublin rose at least ten percent on average last year, the conservative daily brands this as unsocial: "Let us be crystal clear on this: The Government has the power to prevent more people becoming homeless. They must raise rent supplement to match market rents. They failed to do that in the Budget and more families have already become homeless. ... If our Government tells people who can't afford a home (and no social housing is available) that they must go to the private rented market, it must ensure it is possible to obtain a secure and long-term home. It cannot stand over a system that leaves many at the lower end of the market at the mercy of rising rents with no security." (21/10/2014)

Veidas - Lithuania | 21/10/2014

Mini pension for veterans strengthens Putin

Over the past few weeks the Russian embassy in Lithuania has been informing Soviet war veterans that they have a lifetime entitlement to monthly benefits. Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a corresponding order for the Baltic countries on May 8. Pure propaganda, the weekly magazine Veidas believes: "All you have to do is send a photocopy of your passport and your bank account information to the Russian embassy, and every month 'Putin's pocket-money' - from 10 to 20 euros depending no doubt on age and merit - will be credited to your account. ... With this financial assistance, which is more symbolic than real, Russia's goal is clearly not to make life easier for the recipients. It's mainly just propaganda. ... It is meant to show that the Kremlin has not forgotten its 'suffering compatriots' - either in 'New Russia' or in the Baltic countries. And in that way it is intended to enhance Putin's image as the restorer of the Soviet Union." (21/10/2014)

Dziennik Gazeta Prawna - Poland | 21/10/2014

Polish healthcare system chronically ill

Medical treatment in Poland's state-run clinics and hospitals is worsening by the day and the national health service NFZ is increasingly inefficient, according to a report put out by the country's medical supervisory authority. If that's why patients are having to pay for necessary additional services then the public heathcare system is really on its last legs, the conservative daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna fumes: "Theoretically we all receive fair and equal treatment. But in practice that only applies to a select few. The others wait in lines. And the principle of a free healthcare system is pure fiction anyway. ... In fact, the only thing the principle of equality and fairness guarantees is that we all pay our health insurance each month. The problem is that the NFZ is poorly managed and can't afford anything. That's why it has to force patients to make additional payments." (21/10/2014)

Duma - Bulgaria | 21/10/2014

Roma too must pay for electricity

Many Roma in Bulgaria are tapping into public power lines without paying, the daily Duma reports. To avoid the trouble of dealing with the problem the authorities and companies tend to turn a blind eye. But in the end this could fan the hatred of other citizens who have to scrimp and save to pay for electricity and water, the socialist paper warns: "Many other citizens can barely make ends meet. But if they don't pay the bills they end up sitting in the dark. So they grit their teeth and pay their bills. ... They do this not just with electricity, but also with water and public transport, where the ticket inspectors simply ignore the Roma to save themselves the trouble. ... Are all Bulgarians equal before the law or not? And who is being discriminated against here? The Roma or everyone else? This situation can't go on because it fuels hatred, creating a vicious circle." (21/10/2014)

Expressen - Sweden | 19/10/2014

Islamophobia does not create extremists

Sweden's new minister of housing and urban development, Mehmet Kaplan, has come under massive fire for saying that Islamophobia is responsible for radicalising Muslims and causing them to join the IS terrorist militia. The liberal tabloid Expressen joins in the criticism: "[That means] Islamophobia is the answer to every problem: the secret police is driven by Islamophobia, as is anti-terrorist legislation, media reporting and now, we learn, the IS's recruitment. Hatred of Muslims is without doubt a plague that must be taken very seriously. ... But Kaplan must have noticed how poorly suited Islamophobia is for explaining jihadism. He himself made the mistake of condemning a counter-terrorism exercise for this reason in 2007 - just a few years before a suicide bomber attacked in Stockholm." (19/10/2014)

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