Stories about Western Europe from August, 2012
Macedonia: Demanding Triumphal Welcome for Paralympics Champion
Macedonian social media users are calling [mk] for a state-sponsored celebration for Olivera Nakovska-Bikova, who won a gold medal in shooting at the Paralympic Games finals in London, after setting a world record during the qualifications.
Portuguese, a Global Language?
A community page on Facebook, Língua Portuguesa: Uma Língua Global? (Portuguese Language: A Global Language?) [pt], provides a diversity of materials to promote the debate about the expansion of Portuguese language and its consequences. Several critical issues on the policies of this language of around 200 million speakers are addressed,...
UK: Lion Spotted Is Actually Pet Cat Named Teddy Bear
United Kingdom police officers were busy last weekend with a major operation launched on the evening of Sunday August 26, following the apparent sighting of a lion in the English county of Essex. It was later revealed to have actually been a large domestic cat named 'Teddy Bear'.
Russia: Foreign Ministry Looks to Germany to Justify Pussy Riot Verdict
Russia's Foreign Ministry has made a series of comments that further enraging Pussy Riot's supporters. Spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich defended the recent verdict and lashed out at the West for ignorance about the band members' pasts and highlighted perceived double standards regarding interferences into religious services and criminal penalties, citing laws in Germany and Austria.
Tajikistan's Capital Mayor Meets with Facebook Users
In a rare display of political openness, the mayor of the country's capital Dushanbe met with some 400 Facebook users and responded to their criticisms. The meeting was broadcast live online.
France: An Epic Flight from Paris to Beirut – via Damascus
An Air France flight from Paris to Beirut on August 15, turned into a 20-hour nightmare for its passengers, including the French Ambassador to Lebanon. After diverting to Damascus, Syria, for fuel and security reasons, the crew then had to ask around for money to pay for the kerosene after their credit card was refused.
Belgium: Police Violence
Here is a video showing police in Brussels arresting a drunk man who was beating a woman, before they then start to beat him. A person in the neighborhood filmed the incident.
Angolan Tourists Spend Big Bucks in Portugal
'Little by little we see Angolan money starting to dominate businesses and the economic sectors in Portugal.' According to a netizen this is in stark contrast to 70% of Angola's population which 'is barefoot, have empty stomachs, (and) live in a slum.'
France: Mandatory Car Driver Breathalyzers in Bid to Reduce Accidents
Starting from July 1 2012, every vehicle driver in France has had to carry a breathalyzer. This measure is aimed at diminishing the number of accidents caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol.
Lebanon: Awaiting the Pope's Visit in September
The head of the Catholic Church Benedict XVI is to visit Lebanon from September 14 to 16. Father Alex, from Germany, hopes the visit is not late for the region and asks: Which situation we will see in 1 month there? Let's hope and pray #Syria. For more details about...
France: Unexpected Parallel Between Assange and Strauss-Kahn
The blog de Casimira highlights some similarities [fr] between the timing of the charges and the ensuing judicial battles facing J. Assange and D. Strauss-Kahn. She also clarifies the peculiarities of the charge, “sex by surprise” [fr], for which the founder of WikilLeaks is being sued. This charge, which applies when the person refuses to wear...
Portugal: The Dark Side of the National Dam Program
The dams in the Programa Nacional de Barragens (National Dam Program) will cost the Portuguese government €16 billion, to be spent on construction, subsidies and interest on loans. Together with wind farms, they are going to make Portuguese electricity the most expensive in the world.
Peru's Feminist Activist-Artist: María María Acha-Kutscher
Peruvian feminist, activist and visual artist María María Acha-Kutscher is using the Internet to share her work. From Mexico's Frida Kahlo to Spain's "indignadas" (outraged) and Russia's Pussy Riot, Acha-Kutscher's drawings reflect the life and struggles of female artists and activists from all over the world.
Wales: From Prison, Activist Campaigns for Welsh Language Rights
Activist Jamie Bevan of Merthyr Tudful, Wales, is currently serving 35 days in prison after refusing to pay a fine for which the summons was issued in English only. He is a member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, the protest movement which this month marks its 50th anniversary of campaigning to secure Welsh language rights.
Graffiti in Times of Crisis
In the current economic crisis, graffiti in several cities is rife with social messages. Here is a sample of some urban artwork.
Spain: “Health Disobedience” in the Face of Massive Cuts
Independent groups of public health workers and participants have created a digital platform to protest against the recent health reform. The movement is named "I say yes to universal health" and its main proposal is civil disobedience and to object the new Law 16/2012 imposed by the government in the context of severe austerity measures and social protests.
Ecuador Reacts to Assange Asylum
"they talk so much about freedom of expression when in our own country IT DOESN'T EXIST!" - An Ecuadorian netizen criticizes the government's decision to grant asylum to the founder of Wikileaks. Some are celebrating the bold move as well.
Italy: Uncertain Future for Polluting Ilva Steel Plant – and its 12,000 Employees
Europe's biggest steel plant in Taranto, Italy, has been put under judicial seizure: the last chapter of a complex struggle involving high environmental risks and occupational issues. Along with street protests, a broader debate has ensued online.
Ecuador Grants WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Asylum
After much anticipation, Ecuador announced it will grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange is currently inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Twitter has been buzzing with reactions from citizens and the main protagonists in this case, like WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.