The week at a glance ... Europe
Workington, U.K.No preaching against gays: A Baptist street preacher was arrested and jailed last week for saying that homosexuality was a sin. Dale McAlpine, 42, was passing out leaflets touting the Ten Commandments when a gay police officer heard him say that same-sex relationships are against the word of God. McAlpine was arrested and put in a jail cell for seven hours. He was charged with “using abusive or insulting language,” a crime under the Public Order Act, passed in the 1980s in response to a spate of soccer hooliganism. Christian activists are flocking to McAlpine’s defense. “A Christian who stands in a public place and expresses his religious beliefs in the hope of persuading passers-by of his views—that is freedom of speech,” said Sam Webster of the Christian Institute.
Gstaad, SwitzerlandPolanski feels persecuted: Film director Roman Polanski spoke out this week for the first time since his arrest in September, claiming that U.S. prosecutors are trying to “serve me up on a platter to the media.” In 1978, Polanski pleaded guilty to drugging and having sex with a 13-year-old California girl, but fled the U.S. before he was sentenced. After 33 years on the run, the director of Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown was arrested last fall in Switzerland and has been under house arrest at his château there, fighting extradition. “I can remain silent no longer!” Polanski said. He said the original judge in the case promised to let him go free in return for a plea bargain, but decided to give him more jail time to appease the media. “It is this reversal that justified my leaving the United States,” Polanski said.
Halden, NorwaySoft time: Norway has opened what it bills as the world’s most humane prison. Set on a 75-acre lot of lovely forest, the $252 million Halden prison boasts running trails, a recording studio, and even a guesthouse for conjugal visits. Inmates, including murderers, drug dealers, and rapists, live in dorm-style rooms with flat-screen TVs and mini-refrigerators. Guards are unarmed and act like resident advisors, eating meals and playing sports with the prisoners. “In the Norwegian prison system, there’s a focus on human rights and respect,” said prison director Are Hoidal. “We want to build them up, give them confidence through education and work, and have them leave asbetter people.”
AthensLethal demonstration: Protests over the Greek bailout turned deadly this week when rioters firebombed a bank in Athens, killing three people. Tens of thousands of demonstrators, some hurling Molotov cocktails, torched buildings and tried to storm the parliament as riot police held them off with tear gas and stun grenades. The protesters were demonstrating against the austerity measures that international lenders are requiring in exchange for bailing out the Greek economy. The $141 billion loan package from the EU and IMF is contingent on Greece cutting pensions, freezing wages, and raising taxes. “A demonstration is one thing and murder is quite another,” said Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. “That is what uncontrolled violence leads to, that is where political irresponsibility leads to.”