Feature

The week at a glance...Europe

Europe

LondonPress probe wraps up: An independent inquiry into the conduct of the British press concluded last week that tough new laws were needed to protect citizens from being hounded by the tabloids. Prime Minister David Cameron rejected that central finding of Lord Leveson’s inquiry, arguing against legislation that could stifle press freedoms. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg disagreed, saying that only new laws could enforce higher standards in the British press. The public inquiry was launched last year when it emerged that tabloid journalists had hacked into a murdered teenager’s cellphone after she was reported missing. During the nine-month inquiry, Leveson heard often shocking testimony from politicians, editors, and celebrities targeted by the tabloids, including actor Hugh Grant and author J.K. Rowling.  

Amsterdam ‘Scum villages’: Families that persistently behave badly and harass their neighbors are to be evicted from city-run housing projects and moved into trailer parks that have “minimal services” and are under constant police supervision. The new housing camps have been dubbed “scum villages” by the Dutch media, because the plan appears to echo a proposal by right-wing populist Geert Wilders, who urged last year that asocial urbanites be “sent to a village for scum. Put all the trash together.” A city spokesman denied that the plan would create ghettos of uncontrollable troublemakers on the outskirts of Amsterdam. “On the other hand,” he said, “the aim of this scheme is not to reward people with a brand-new, five-room home with a south-facing garden.”  

Paris Oenophiles retreat: Consumption of wine in France has slumped to a record low, with the average French adult now consuming barely one glass a day, according to a large-scale study of alcohol consumption. In a finding that will have viticulturists weeping into their vats, the survey also reported that 38 percent of people in France—traditionally a nation of heroic wine drinkers—are now teetotalers, and only 17 percent drink wine on a daily basis. The survey confirms a long-term trend away from wine. As recently as 1980, wine was drunk with half of all meals; today the proportion is just a quarter. The study’s authors said the decline of wine drinking was a result of the sluggish economy and public-awareness campaigns over the dangers of le binge drinking.

Pristina, Kosovo Ex-leader cleared: A former guerrilla leader and prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, was welcomed home to Kosovo’s capital by a crowd of more than 100,000 after being acquitted last week of war crimes by the U.N. tribunal in the Netherlands, where he had been jailed for more than four years. Haradinaj was the commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought, with NATO’s help, for independence from Serbia in 1998 and 1999. He was highly regarded in the West as a stabilizing force in Kosovo’s divisive political scene before he resigned as PM in 2005 to deal with tribunal charges that he had killed and tortured Serb civilians. Haradinaj is expected to be asked to join the government soon, probably as prime minister.

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