The world at a glance . . . Europe
Paranoid about pedophiles: Nearly a quarter of British adults have been given background checks to determine whether they are pedophiles, according to a report by the independent think tank Civitas. The checks, which search for evidence of past pedophilic tendencies or criminal activity, were mandated in 2002, after a school janitor killed two girls. Since then, the government’s Criminal Records Bureau has carried out 15 million background checks, at a cost of more than $1 billion. The checks, Civitas said, have created “an atmosphere of suspicion” that does little to protect children. Parents, the report notes, are not allowed to accompany their kids on field trips unless they have been vetted.
Iranians banned from nuclear science: The Netherlands this week banned Iranian students from taking science courses that cover nuclear technology. Under the new regulation, anyone who grants Iranians access to nuclear reactors or research facilities or who passes on nuclear “knowledge” to them could face prosecution. The Dutch government said its action was prompted by a recent U.N. resolution banning the spread of nuclear expertise to Iran. But the Netherlands is the first country to impose such an all-encompassing ban that includes academic endeavors.
U.S. missile defense approved: The Czech Republic this week signed an agreement with the U.S. to host part of a missile-defense system. The installation will include a tracking radar system, based in the Czech Republic, and 10 interceptor missiles, which would be based in Poland. The U.S. hopes that the system, which it says is intended to defend against a potential nuclear strike from Iran, will be in operation by 2012. But the project is unpopular in the Czech Republic, and opposition leaders say they would try to block ratification. The Polish government has not yet agreed to host the missiles; public opinion toward the project in Poland is also decidedly negative.