Curious about Everything

Category: Europe (Page 1 of 5)

Turkey summons ambassadors from 10 countries over their call to release activist Osman Kavala

Osman Kavala, 64, has been in Turkish prisons since October 2017. He is being held on charges of espionage and attempting to overthrow the government, stemming from his alleged involvement in the 2013 Gezi protests and the 2016 coup attempt.

Kavala’s imprisonment has been condemned by human rights groups and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered his release.

On Monday, the fourth anniversary of Kavala’s detention, the embassies of the Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the United States released a joint statement calling for his immediate release.

“The continuing delays in his trial, including by merging different cases and creating new ones after a previous acquittal, cast a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and transparency in the Turkish judiciary system,” the statement said.

» France 24 / DW / Aljazeera / Euractive

EU Member States have issued more than 591 million EU Digital COVID Certificates

The European Commission published a report on the EU Digital COVID Certificate and its implementation across the EU.

The report shows that the certificate has been a crucial element in Europe’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 591 million certificates generated.

The certificate, which covers COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery, facilitates safe travel for citizens, and it has also been key to support Europe’s hard-hit tourism industry.

It has set a global standard and is currently the only system already in operation at international level.

“The EU Digital COVID Certificate system has helped mitigate negative economic effects during the pandemic. It gave travellers the confidence to travel safely in the EU and boosted travel this summer. Europe has swiftly and successfully set an innovative, privacy-friendly global standard, in times of crisis, with many countries around the globe interested in joining the system,” Commissioner for Justice, Didie Reynders, said.

43 countries across four continents are already connected into the EU Digital COVID Certificate system, and more will follow over the coming weeks and months. Of the 43 countries that are already connected, 27 are EU Member States, 3 European Economic Area (EEA) countries, Switzerland, plus 12 other countries and territories.

Altogether, 60 countries expressed interest in joining the EU system. Beyond the ones already connected, technical discussions are ongoing with 28 of these countries. The EU did not specify which countries those were.


Media literacy and how Finland is winning the war on fake news

Eliza Mackintosh, CNN »

The course is part of an anti-fake news initiative launched by Finland’s government in 2014 – two years before Russia meddled in the US elections – aimed at teaching residents, students, journalists and politicians how to counter false information designed to sow division.

The initiative is just one layer of a multi-pronged, cross-sector approach the country is taking to prepare citizens of all ages for the complex digital landscape of today – and tomorrow. The Nordic country, which shares an 832-mile border with Russia, is acutely aware of what’s at stake if it doesn’t.

Finland has faced down Kremlin-backed propaganda campaigns ever since it declared independence from Russia 101 years ago. But in 2014, after Moscow annexed Crimea and backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, it became obvious that the battlefield had shifted: information warfare was moving online.

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Big Brother is in our schools » Facial recognition cameras arrive in UK school canteens

Cynthia O’Murchu, Financial Times 🔒 »

Many British schools have used other biometric systems, such as fingerprint scanners, to take payments for years, but privacy campaigners said there was little need to normalise facial recognition technology, which has been criticised for often operating without explicit consent.

“It’s normalising biometric identity checks for something that is mundane. You don’t need to resort to airport style [technology] for children getting their lunch,” said Silkie Carlo of the campaign group Big Brother Watch.

Swanston said cameras check against encrypted faceprint templates, which are stored on servers at the schools and 65 school sites had signed up.

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Proof is in the poop » Austrians have enjoyed beer and blue cheese for at least 2,700 years

Jennifer Ouellette, via Ars Technica »

Ancient Iron Age miners in what is now Austria were quite fond of beer and blue cheese, according to a new analysis, published in the journal Current Biology, of preserved paleo-poop. The researchers found evidence of two fungal species commonly used to produce blue cheese and beers, along with evidence that the miners’ diet was particularly rich in carbohydrates in the form of cereal grains.

“Genome-wide analysis indicates that both fungi were involved in food fermentation and provide the first molecular evidence for blue cheese and beer consumption during Iron Age Europe,” said co-author Frank Maixner of the Eurac Research Institute for Mummy Studies in Bolzano, Italy. “The miners seem to have intentionally applied food fermentation technologies with microorganisms which are still nowadays used in the food industry.”

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UK to put nuclear power at heart of net zero emissions strategy

Jim Pickard and Nathalie Thomas, FT 🔒 »

UK ministers will put nuclear power at the heart of Britain’s strategy to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in government documents expected as early as next week, alongside fresh details of its funding model.

Kwasi Kwarteng, business secretary, is to unveil an overarching “Net Zero Strategy” paper as soon as Monday, along with a “Heat and Building Strategy” and a Treasury assessment of the cost of reaching the 2050 goal.

The creation of a “regulated asset base” (RAB) model will be key to delivering a future fleet of large atomic power stations. The RAB funding model is already used for other infrastructure projects, such as London’s Thames Tideway super sewer.

Under the scheme, households will be charged for the cost of the plant via an energy levy long before it begins generating electricity, which could take a decade or more from when the final investment decision is taken.

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France finally starts cleaning up its shameless elite

Simon Kuper, FT 🔒 »

But times are changing. Last week the Goncourt banned jury members from consecrating lovers and family. Most unusually too, the newly unveiled shortlist featured no books from the country’s best-connected publisher, Gallimard. All this follows last year’s reform of France’s biggest cinematic prizes, the Césars: the board resigned after 400 artists criticised an “elitist and closed” academy that had nominated a film by the convicted paedophile director Roman Polanski for 12 awards.

France hasn’t suddenly become a Nordic-style model of transparent egalitarianism. But it is reforming, and it’s not alone. When elite institutions are attacked from below, they find reason to clean up.

Italy has slashed its number of parliamentarians and is reforming its courts so that wealthy defendants can’t string out cases until they lapse. In Britain, Oxbridge is admitting more state-school pupils. Voters have stopped tolerating self-dealing leaders, as witnessed by this week’s resignation of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz and the defeat of Czech prime minister Andrej Babis. Part of fighting corruption is that we should be willing to acknowledge when it declines.

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