European Journal 2
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Northern Ireland: The willingness to use violence is on the increase again | European Journal official
The peace process in Northern Ireland could be facing a setback.The willingness to resort to violence is increasing among both Protestants and Catholics. Many Protestants in Northern Ireland consider themselves the losers in the peace process. They have had to give up privileges and share power with Catholic parties. Protestants are giving vent to their anger with new marches. But the economic crisis is also driving many people to join radical Catholic groups. IRA splinter groups have joined together and are already threatening terrorist attacks.
In Poland drivers with raised blood alcohol levels can expect drastic punishments. That also applies to bicyclists who've had too much to drink. Car drivers and bicyclists who are caught twice with blood alcohol levels of more than 0.2 grams/liter can go to jail. Thousands of drunk drivers are already behind bars. The reason for the strict measures is the country's high rate of alcohol-related traffic accidents. Poland has one of EU countries with the highest number of deaths on the road. For more go to http://www.dw.de/program/european-journal/s-3065-9798
The French love their foie gras, and the fatty liver product is a must at up-market events. But the producers of the luxury food are coming under attack. The production of foie gras involves force feeding birds to enlarge their livers. Fatty goose livers are considered a special delicacy. Animal rights campaigners are demanding an end to the practice. Nearly 20 countries around the world have banned it, but France continues to be the leading producer and consumer of foie gras. For more go to http://www.dw.de/program/european-journal/s-3065-9798
In Albania, former political prisoners spent weeks on a hunger strike - in vain. The government is refusing to grant them compensation. According to a 2007 law, victims of Enver Hoxha's dictatorship can claim compensation. Between 1944 until his death in 1985, Hoxha imprisoned and killed hundreds of thousands of Albanians and sent many more to labor camps. Today, over 20,000 people have applied for compensation. For more go to http://www.dw.de/european-journal-the-magazine-from-brussels-2012-11-21/e-16347065-9798
For the Estonians, the collapse of the Soviet Union brought the freedom they had longed for for so many years. By joining the European Union and introducing the common currency the Euro, Estonia has shown its deep commitment to the West and relations with Russia remain tense.Estonia introduced the Euro in 2011. A difficult decision because the Estonian Krone, reintroduced in 1992, was a symbol of independence from the Soviet Union. The Estonians and their Baltic neighbors in Lithuania and Latvia place great hopes in their Western-oriented policies. They see the development of democracy and human rights as an obstacle to Russian efforts to dominate the Baltic region. The war in Georgia reawakened old fears. When Estonia’s IT infrastructure came under attack, many Estonians were quick to accuse the Kremlin of manipulating a cyber war. The attack was in fact launched by a group of amateurs and Russian nationalists.
Large numbers of Lithuanians are facing a cash crisis. Snoras Bank, one of the country's leading financial institutions, was seized by the government amid major fraud allegations. Elderly people were hardest-hit at first, since many of them don't have ATM cards. Instead, they're accustomed to cashing their pension checks at the counter. Now, even the automated teller machines are out of money. The owners of Snoras, Russian financier Vladimir Antonov and a Lithuanian partner, have been accused of using the bank's capital on business deals, including to buy Swedish carmaker Saab - a deal that fell through. Antonov has since been detained in London.
The regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is intensifying its crackdown on the country's political opposition. Its leaders are organizing their resistance from Turkey.The Syrian National Council, the highest-level opposition body in exile, has its headquarters in Istanbul. The Free Syrian Army is also led from Turkish territory. The commander of the armed resistance lives in a refugee camp in southern Turkey. Members of the Syrian opposition often put their lives on the line in order to smuggle humanitarian aid and even weapons across the border.
More and more Russians are buying apartments in Estonia - without intending to live there. Owning property in the EU makes it easier for them to obtain a no-borders Schengen visa. Owning real estate in Estonia is no guarantee that they'll get a visa, but it greatly increases their chances. And that makes it easier to take a shopping trip to Paris, for example. Many Estonians are less than enthusiastic about their new, never-seen neighbors. Some of the new owners don't even close the windows in the winter. Others see no reason to pay their bills, leaving neighbors to deal with the consequences.