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Catholics are keeping a low profile in Ireland’s abortion referendum campaign

Čt, 03/22/2018 - 15:48

No rosaries please

WHEN Ireland first voted on abortion, back in 1983, there was no doubt as to who was behind the push for a full constitutional ban. The Pro Life Amendment Campaign, which persuaded 67% of voters to approve the 8th Amendment to Ireland’s constitution, was a coalition of Roman Catholic organisations supported by the pope and his bishops. Rosaries and crosses were proudly borne to its marches and rallies.

Now, 35 years later, as Ireland prepares to vote, in May or June, on a proposed repeal of the amendment, overt Catholicism has all but vanished from the scene. Although the religious affiliations of many activists are, of course, known, contemporary pro-life groups like the Iona Institute, the Pro Life Campaign, the Life Institute, and Save the 8th present themselves as non- or multi-denominational, or simply leave such matters vague.

With good reason. Since 1983 a long series of scandals has battered the church’s moral authority....

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Two giant engineering projects will alter the European landscape

Čt, 03/22/2018 - 15:48

WHEN the Berlin Wall fell, Europe began repairing its sundered east-west transport networks. A revived Paris-Moscow train heralded the new era. Berlin’s cathedral-like main station, opened in 2006, became the continent’s new hub. But old north-south bottlenecks are back in the spotlight. Of the nine “Core Network Corridors” currently earmarked for EU investment, six are more vertical than horizontal. The centrepiece of this strategy is the “Scandinavian-Mediterranean corridor” from Sweden and Finland, through Denmark, Germany, Austria and Italy to Malta in the south. This programme—jointly funded by the EU and member states—includes railway electrification, port modernisation and the two largest engineering projects on the continent.

The greatest progress has been at the route’s northern end. The Oresund link, a 16km road-and-rail, bridge-and-tunnel link from Malmo to Copenhagen that opened in 2000, has knitted the two cities into one region. The next step is to link them to Hamburg with a...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Emmanuel Macron, the new Teddy Roosevelt

Čt, 03/22/2018 - 15:48

THE American guest in ill-fitting clothes was a curiously bedraggled sight next to his sharp-suited French hosts. But when Steve Bannon took to the stage as the surprise invité at the National Front congress in the city of Lille earlier this month, he stole the show. “Let them call you racists. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists,” declared Donald Trump’s former chief strategist. “Wear it as a badge of honour!” As each of his phrases was translated into French, the star-struck audience applauded. Fresh from meeting populists and nationalists from Germany and Italy, Mr Bannon hailed the rise of a global movement and told them: “History is on our side.”

In one sense, Mr Bannon chose an odd time to drop in on France. Marine Le Pen’s movement, which she now wants to rename Rassemblement National (National Rally), has been in disarray ever since she lost the presidential election last year to Emmanuel Macron and secured only eight parliamentary seats....

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Why Uber in Istanbul is costlier than a cab

Čt, 03/22/2018 - 15:48

COMPETITION between Uber and the taxi industry tends to be fierce everywhere. In Turkey it has turned violent. Over the past month, some Uber drivers in Istanbul, the only Turkish city where the ride-sharing firm operates regularly, have been beaten, and on at least one occasion shot at, by disgruntled cabbies. A union of taxi drivers has taken Uber to court, asking the authorities to block access to its app. (The country has already banned Wikipedia and, an online travel agent, as well as thousands of other web pages.) The union’s boss recently accused Uber of being part of a “thieving Jewish lobby”.

Most of Istanbul’s cabbies are perfectly nice people who resort neither to violence nor to anti-Semitism when faced with new market entrants or afternoon traffic. But too many are swindlers, chain-smokers and speed addicts. On a recent trip across town, your correspondent spent 15 hair-raising minutes trying to calm an elderly driver who regularly succumbed to a series of twitches, popped out of his...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Why controlling chemical weapons is so hard

Čt, 03/22/2018 - 15:48

IN THE sort of movie where global agencies are attacked by arch-villains with superpowers, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) would make a perfect target. Its concrete and glass headquarters sits amid a cluster of high-minded international institutions in The Hague, down the street from the tribunal where Yugoslavia’s war criminals were tried and not far from the International Court of Justice. The OPCW has been busy over the past decade, destroying chemical-weapons stockpiles in Libya, Iraq and Syria, for which it won the Nobel peace prize in 2013. But the use of a nerve agent in the attempted assassination of a Russian ex-spy in Britain this month has dragged it into tricky waters.

The mission of the OPCW is to support the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, which bars countries from possessing them. (Using them has been illegal since The Hague Conventions of 1899, signed just across town—though that did not stop Germany and Britain from gassing each other’s troops during the first world war.) But the OPCW...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Greece is set to leave its bail-out programme. Its troubles aren’t over

Čt, 03/22/2018 - 15:48

ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Greece’s left-wing prime minister, is getting along better these days with his country’s big creditors, the EU and the International Monetary Fund. One reason is that Athens is likely to complete its current bail-out programme in August, on time and with funds to spare. Another is that the economy is growing, albeit more slowly than forecast.

But Mr Tsipras is under growing pressure at home. His Syriza party’s unlikely coalition with Independent Greeks (Anel), a small populist party led by Panos Kammenos, a blustering right-winger, is in danger of falling apart. Mr Kammenos, the defence minister, opposes Mr Tsipras’s efforts to resolve a 25-year dispute over what Greece’s poor northern neighbour, officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, should henceforth be called. Mr Kammenos has also broken ranks with Syriza over how to handle Greece’s latest flare-up with its historical rival, Turkey, a NATO ally with a policy of contesting Greek sovereignty over a clutch of small Aegean islands.


Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Israel is cultivating new friends in the Balkans, but quietly

Čt, 03/22/2018 - 15:48

Quiet remembrance

ALTHOUGH it was in use from 1497 to 1943, the Jewish cemetery in Bitola, Macedonia’s second city, had long been forgotten. No longer. Not only is the site now being restored and a new memorial built, but on March 11th a couple of thousand people, including Macedonian and Israeli ministers, marched through town to pay homage to the Macedonian Jews who were rounded up exactly 75 years earlier and sent to the death camp at Treblinka. At the same time Israeli developers held a “hackathon”, dreaming up ideas for digital memorials with Macedonian fellow geeks. It is typical of the way Israelis are quietly discovering the western Balkans.

Bitola’s Jewish cemetery is on a steep hill, and over time its flat tombs became covered by soil. In the past few years 4,300 have been excavated; there could be as many as 10,000. Jews remember Bitola by its Ottoman name of Monastir, but most people in Bitola have forgotten that their down-at-heel town was once a...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn


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