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SOCIETY

Blog Pitsirikos - Greece | 24/07/2014

Democracy based on loans isn't democracy

Greece is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the end of the military dictatorship and the restoration of democracy today, Thursday. President Karolos Papoulias stated that the withdrawal of democracy was the 'most dramatic side effect of the economic adventure'. Blogger Pitsirikos wonders how anyone can talk of Greece as a democratic society: "This state was built on loans. The loans were taken out even before the Greek state was founded, and this state continued to exist only thanks to loans. Democracy based on loans doesn't exist. ... Anyone who is familiar with Greek history knows that major problems arise when the loans come to a halt. There are no more loans. And now the politicians, the 'compradors' [who benefit from foreign trade] and the descendants of the traitors have no more money and are in trouble. Nonetheless, most Greeks tolerate them and keep them in power, despite the fact that most Greeks don't even know what true democracy is." (24/07/2014)

The Daily Telegraph - United Kingdom | 23/07/2014

Europe's Jewish population is scared

In the conservative Daily Telegraph, Emma Barnett examines the consequences of Israel's Gaza Strip offensive for Jews in Europe: "The truth is that up and down this island, Jews are arguing, debating, crying and worrying about what's going on in an even smaller country across the ocean. Some British Jews are fasting for peace; some are angry at one or both sides; but many are just scared - scared not just about events in Gaza, but events in Europe. These include reports about gangs of Muslims chanting 'death to Jews' on the streets of France, and attacking synagogues and setting fire to Jewish-owned stores. … Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Germany, too. … British Jews aren't scared to talk to each other about the situation in Israel. We're becoming scared to talk at all." (23/07/2014)

România Liberă - Romania | 24/07/2014

Liberate wheelchair users from house arrest

Hundreds of demonstrators took to Bucharest's streets to demand a more pedestrian-friendly and wheelchair-friendly city on Sunday. Wheelchair users are virtually excluded from public life, the conservative daily România Liberă complains: "There's no space for them on the pavements, so they're basically condemned to house arrest. At best they can move around in front of the block of flats where they live if there's a lift which fits wheelchairs. Forced into invisibility like this, the disabled go ignored by most Romanians, and worse still: also by the authorities. Bucharest is inaccessible for an important section of its population - the disabled, the elderly and parents with pushchairs. This was the reason for the march on Sunday. ... And also to prevent what happened to a young man in a wheelchair who took part in the protest from happening again: a bodyguard denied him entry to a newly opened shopping mall, saying that with his wheelchair he would 'damage the mall's image'." (24/07/2014)

Der Standard - Austria | 23/07/2014

German cannabis ruling awakens false hopes

Chronically ill patients in Germany may grow cannabis for therapeutic use if no other medicine can alleviate their pain. With this decision the Administrative Court of Cologne on Tuesday ruled in favour of five plaintiffs who had challenged the legal ban on growing marijuana. Although it may have rekindled the debate over legalising the drug, the ruling was too faint-hearted, the left-liberal daily Der Standard believes: "The decision has only caused a sensation because it fans the hopes of supporters and the fears of opponents, but not because it mark a turning point in drug policy. It's too timid for that. The judges had the chance to set a precedent. However the strict requirements patients must fulfil to get a permit for growing marijuana make it clear that the court shied away from making a political statement." (23/07/2014)

Heti Világgazdaság - Hungary | 22/07/2014

Budapest occupation monument put up overnight

Despite months of fierce protests, the monument commemorating the occupation of Hungary by Nazi Germany was erected on Budapest's Freedom Square on Saturday night. It depicts a German imperial eagle attacking the archangel Gabriel, representing Hungary. Out of cowardice Viktor Orbán's government had the monument erected in a cloak and dagger operation, philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás writes in the left-liberal weekly paper Heti Világgazdaság: "Of course, what happened on the morning of July 20 was directed at the Hungarian Jews. This deceitful monument was erected in the middle of the night in a cowardly, underhanded way, with large-scale police protection and behind high protective fences. ... The sole message the monument sends is that the Hungarians had nothing to do with the whole thing: what happened back then was done by foreigners (the Germans) to other foreigners (the Jews). ... But that's forgetting that in those days the Hungarians acted as lackeys to the Germans." (22/07/2014)

Novinar - Bulgaria | 21/07/2014

Roma must also stick to the rules

The Bulgarian authorities started tearing down houses illegally built by Roma families in the central Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora on Monday, amid clashes between residents and the police. The daily Novinar has no pity for the now homeless Roma: "In every democratic country there are rights and rules, and they hold for everyone. It simply doesn't work for one part of the population to live according to its own rules while enjoying the same rights as everyone else - if not more. For example the right to live in illegal housing, which other Bulgarians are not allowed to do. ... Or to not pay their bills when everyone else does. ... In a nutshell, to live like in the joke: 'Democracy is when the Bulgarians work and pay, while the Roma live on welfare and get everything for free. And racism is when the Bulgarians don't want to put up with that any more." (21/07/2014)

L'Hebdo - Switzerland | 20/07/2014

First World War an eternal mystery

One hundred years after the outbreak of World War I, new publications and media reports continue to captivate readers. The weekly magazine l'Hebdo offers an explanation: "The absurdity of this war that should have been the last fascinates modern observers. Every question it raises touches on the very essence of mankind and history. How can nations have engaged in such cruel slaughter in a war that it seems no one even wanted? ... Passionate studies continue to shed new light on a conflict that remains surprisingly mysterious in many respects. The huge body of sources leaves room for no end of new interpretations. How could it be any different for a war the blame for which cannot be pinned on a single person? There was never a problem with allotting the role of bad guy in 1939. But 1914 is another matter entirely." (20/07/2014)

Aftonbladet - Sweden | 21/07/2014

Girls must be allowed to play football like boys

At a beach football tournament in the Swedish city of Ahus last week, two girls were required to prove that they were female. Their opponents argued that they must be boys because they had short hair and played so well. That's an outrage, the left-liberal daily Aftonbladet believes, citing an American gender theorist: "Iris Marion Young wrote that girls are taught from day one that their bodies are more fragile than boys' bodies, and that they have to be careful. The result is that girls are more restrained when they play sports. ... When young women hear the whole time that they're not as strong as young men, they hardly dare to challenge themselves at all. The two 11-year-old girls have defied this old-fashioned view of young women's strength and abilities." (21/07/2014)

The Malta Independent - Malta | 20/07/2014

UN should assess asylum claims in Africa

The Italian navy announced on Sunday that it had rescued hundreds of refugees from the Mediterranean last week. However nineteen people were found dead on a boat carrying migrants on Saturday. To prevent such tragedies, applications for asylum must be processed in North Africa, the liberal-conservative daily The Malta Independent argues: "The concept of setting up a UNHCR frontline office in Libya, which would effectively assess asylum seekers' claims before they set sail on rickety boats on the perilous Mediterranean crossing, would be an immensely positive development in what is an otherwise completely Wild West scenario. Those who have had their asylum requests approved would be distributed by the UNHCR across Europe, instead of making their way to Malta or Italy, while failed asylum seekers could be repatriated to their countries of origin straight from Libya." (20/07/2014)

La Croix - France | 17/07/2014

Gaza crisis shows up division in France

After protests in Paris over Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip, violent demonstrators marched on two synagogues, where police prevented attacks and clashes with Jewish demonstrators. It's high time the intolerance in French society ceded to a willingness for dialogue, the Catholic daily La Croix demands: "Once people have had a chance to talk issues through, they must be ready for compromise. The violence between social groups is not only a reflection of the blindness of those who give in to it. It also reflects a society that is increasingly fragmented and less and less fraternal. And these rifts cause such tensions to mount. The answer lies in respect between religious and cultural affiliations, a respect that enriches public debate and the community as a whole. This is a matter of collective responsibility." (17/07/2014)


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