Many people would say they hear a lot of garbage from politicians during election campaigns, but in Italy garbage is one of the hot issues in this election campaign - especially in the southern Campania region. Although the streets of Naples have finally been cleared of their huge piles of rubbish, the problem is as bad as ever on the city's outskirts. But what's even worse is the problem of toxic industrial waste, dumped in huge quantities by the local mafia - the comorra. Locals are falling ill, animals and crops are being poisoned - and yet no-one is being held accountable.
And now we go from parliamentary elections in Serbia to local elections in France. The first round of these elections took place last Sunday, the second round is this weekend. The elections will determine the political fate of around 33 thousand mayors. One local representative, running for a seventh consecutive term of office, is standing out during this campaign: by prohibiting death in his village. John Laurenson has more in this postcard.
Last year, Berlin received some very unflattering media coverage. The country’s most respected news magazine, Der Spiegel, said Berlin was no longer a hip and happening European metropolis -- unlike Barcelona, Copenhagen or even the Estonian capital Tallinn. Berlin had, in the words of the magazine, missed the boat. But the city has refused to accept defeat. This week, Berlin launched a new slogan as part of a multi-million-euro advertising campaign, aimed at spicing up the German capital’s appeal. And as Thomas Marzahl reports from Berlin, the campaign for starters targets Berliners themselves.
This weekend people in France are going to the polls to vote for their local governments: mayors, regional and local governing councils. Mayors and local governments are the first point of call for the problems and daily concerns of French citizens. But these elections are also seen as a referendum on the national government: the results of the president's party will reflect what people think of him. Calais, in the north of France, is one of the last Communist party strongholds in the country. The opposition has put together an unconventional campaign to try to oust the mayor. Radio France International's Sarah Elzas has this report from Calais.
It can be plain old cotton or extravagant Italian silk. Tied tightly under your chin or draped elegantly over your head. Headscarves in Turkey might be a political hot potato but for many women they’re also a fashion accessory. As Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul, how and what you wear as a headscarf can define where you’re from, who you are, and whether you’re in or out.
The world of Swedish knitting has left the rocking chair and come careering, like an out-of-control skateboard, into the streets and cafes of Stockholm. The old lady image is being replaced – now it’s a popular way for all ages to socialise as well as be a new form of graffiti or street-art.
Whether you’re greeting an old auntie or trying to make a pass at your aerobics instructor, the simple kiss is the most ubiquitous of all manifestations of affection. But kissing can be a minefield of social gaffs and getting it wrong in the Netherlands where you’re expected to give 3 cheek-kisses to everyone you meet, is a quick way to look like an oddball if you muck up the etiquette. The Dutch in particular it seems, have a fascination with the kiss.
Spain’s abortion law is coming under close scrutiny where the government says it is prepared to consider changing the legislation if it can achieve a wide political and social consensus. The announcement follows women from a feminist collective reporting themselves to police for illegal abortions, in order to draw attention to the what they see as the failings of the law. Private abortion clinics have also been on a week long strike to protest against a law they say doesn’t protect medical practitioners or the woman who have abortions. The strike was a response to a recent series of police raids on abortion clinics accused of carrying out illegal terminations. From Madrid, Deutsche Welle’s Danny Wood reports…
And we haven’t finished with the war yet… Not for the first time in recent memory there’s controversy in Poland on a World War II issue. Two books on Polish-Jewish relations after the war have just been published, both by Polish-born historians living in the United States. Michal Kubicki of Polish Radio’s External Service looks at why the books are set to provoke heated debate on one of the most complex chapters in Poland’s modern history.
The Dutch city of Utrecht used to have a big problem with drug dealers loitering on the streets. The problem got so bad that the city had to get creative and find ways to deal with them. They found an effective, though unorthodox solution: give addicts housing, and allow them to keep taking drugs. It works because members of the community are able to be watched over by caretakers.
The Roma community has been in Istanbul, Turkey, for almost a thousand years. They’ve lived through wars and sieges, but today they may well be facing their toughest challenge yet: a massive property boom in Istanbul, fuelled by European investors and the oil money from Middle Eastern and Russian speculators. There’s new development all over the city. And such development could mean the destruction of the Europe’s oldest Roma community.
The average Pole spends three and a half hours a day in front of the TV. Nearly half of that time is devoted to watching soap operas. People watch these series because they can identify something of themselves in them. And some Polish sociologists say that they can be good for establishing family roles.
From personalities - to places. One of the most fascinating places in Poland's capital, Warsaw, is across the Vistula river. It's in a part of the city most tour guides ignore, or even dismiss as too dangerous. The Tenth Anniversary Stadium was a left-over piece of architecture from Poland's communist past. But Poland's surprise success with its bid to host the 2012 European Football Championships means a brand new sports complex is being built on the site. So, it’s also goodbye to the famous international market - Polish Radio's Amy Drozdowska presented an obituary:
In a new feature we have a brief Postcard snapshot from one of Network Europe’s producers. This week Deutsche Welle’s Liah McDonell is in the famously rude Berlin, where it seems being nice is suddenly all the rage.
As the decision making process becomes ever more complicated for members of the European Union. Some people wonder about what would happen if the Union became so deadlocked - countries chose to leave the community. This programme has been reporting on virtual reality worlds - so it was in that vein that Radio Netherlands decided to play with the alternative scenario of a future Dutch retreat from the EU. How much of a difference would it make if the Netherlands even left the Union? Radio Netherlands Vanessa Mock takes this - fictional - look at that alternative.
he former United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim died last week and will be buried this weekend in his native Austria where he served a term as President. Waldheim caused an international row after he left the UN, when it was revealed his service with Hitler's army during World War 2 included time with a unit which committed atrocities in the Balkans. Deutsche Welle’s Kerry Skyring reports from Vienna,
The Stadion Dziesieciolecia or the Tenth Anniversary Stadium is a left-over piece of architecture from Poland's recent past. Its outdoor market, one of the largest of it's kind, is a special universe of sellers from all over the world. But its days are numbered. Poland's surprise win on the bid to host the 2012 European Football Championships means a brand new sports complex will be built on the site. And after June 30th 2007, the market will close forever. Polish Radio's Amy Drozdowska reports.
"The Union of Communist Youth" in Romania was one of the richest youth organizations in south-eastern Europe. 17 years have passed since the fall of communism, and Romania has not solved the problem of the properties and assets which belonged to the communist youth organization. In the battle for this heritage, civil society may be the no.1 looser. Radio Romania International's Iulian Muresan reports from Bucharest.
The newly-elected government of Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed this week that it was planning to restrict immigrant's right to bring their family to live with them in France. Human right activists and the centre left opposition are in uproar. Radio France International's Nick Champeaux reports from Paris.
In Poland teenagers cannot imagine life without the web. After all personal computers were almost common place when they were born. Does that mean that they’re blasé though? And what are the reasons why they go online?
Gangster culture is becoming more and more popular around Europe, a leading Dutch MP in the Netherlands is now calling for new rules to tackle gangster culture in youth prisons. He wants uniforms to be re-introduced and says expensive designer clothing and jewellery must be banned. It's being called a bling-bling ban - but the MP in question says he's deadly serious about taking a harder line on young criminals. Radio Netherlands' Andy Clark reports for Network Europe from the Hague.
Dozens of non-governmental organisations from the Czech Republic and around the world gathered in Prague recently for the annual NGO market. The 8th such event to be held in the Czech capital included lectures and debates on everything from the role of civic society in post-communist countries to water shortages in the Middle-East. The meeting was attended by members of the public from all walks of life, as well as Radio Prague's Rob Cameron.
It's a fact of life... and death. Service in the military always carries the risk of dying in battle. But recruits in the Russian army face an additional risk. They stand a chance of dying at the hands of older conscripts. Abusive treatment of army recruits in Russia is widespread - with hazing blamed for hundreds of suicides and... thousands of desertions each year. From Moscow, Charles Maynes offers this look at draft dodging Russian style.
Embracing the new is something Swedes like to think they're good at. Rightly or wrongly, this part of the world as long been associated with sexual freedoms but its also known to be at the vanguard of social legislation equating de-facto relationships and marriage under the law, promoting gender equality, and safeguarding the rights of children as unique from their parents. But there are still some aspects of personal sexual and romantic freedoms that are controversial for some - Radio Sweden's Bill Schiller reports on the state of gay and lesbian rights in Sweden.
While the number of Turks supporting EU membership has been steadily falling over the past year, hitting an all time low of about 30% - a public opinion survey just released in Poland this week suggests that people there are head over heals in love with the European Union. Even former Eurosceptics seemed to have been reconciled with the EU. What are some of the reasons behind this positive trend?
In less than one month Bucharest will be the easternmost capital of the European Union. In the 17 years since the fall of communism the city has gotten a facelift, but the traces of the past are still visible everywhere. Iulian Muresan from Radio Romania International caught up with a team of Romanian and British architects, sociologists and artists and reports on their efforts to give Bucharest a new identity.
The starting point for all discussions about deprived suburbs and the violence they suffer is still the rioting in Paris last year that stunned Europe. The problems that led to those incidents have not gone away. Most young people of north African origin living in France's deprived suburbs, as French citizens, are entitled to vote. But a nationwide campaign launched last year has failed to convince young people to go and register to vote en masse. Many of them say politicians are out of touch with their lives. Network Europe found out why.
According to the internet's fast growing encyclopedic phenomenon Wikipedia, fear is a basic emotional sensation and response system initiated by an aversion to some perceived risk or threat. That's rather academic so we decided to do the footwork and and asked Europeans about what they fear the most...
France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated at between five and six million people. The majority live in the French capital, Paris, and there, Ramadan makes a real difference. The holy month is a joyous time of fellowship, worship and reflection. In multicultural neighbourhoods, such as Belleville, it’s also an opportunity for people with different religious backgrounds to mix.
There are significantly less Muslims in Sweden than in France but that doesn't mean the 300,000 strong community isn't facing its own issues of integration. Sweden's official policy is multiculturalism. But just what that means is a source of constant debate. One product of Sweden's search for its own brand of multiculturalism is Gringo magazine, which turns prejudice on its head by using the language of the suburbs where most of Sweden's immigrant population lives. Meryam Can, managing editor of the magazine, draws on her own Turkish-Swedish backgound to discuss integration and discrimination in Swedish society.
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