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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 08/12/2014



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US protests against racism

Protests in New York: the demonstrators are calling for a reform to policing in the US. (© picture-alliance/dpa)


Demonstrations against police violence and racism have now reached the west coast of the US. The protests were sparked on Wednesday when a court decided not to indict the white police officer allegedly responsible for the death of the black man Eric Garner. Commentators see this as the end of the dream of a post-racist society in the US, and hope the fight for civil rights will be revived.

Salzburger Nachrichten - Austria

Post-racisism just an illusion

It seems that in the US it really is skin colour that determines whether a crime is investigated or not, the conservative daily Salzburger Nachrichten writes: "The outcry that is resonating all the way from New York to Seattle can't be loud enough. According to the colour psychology of the US law enforcement agents and also that of the US judiciary, black makes you a suspect. Also in the case of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old family father who died in mid-July, choked by a police officer, the jury decided not to press charges against the policeman. The latter suspected Garner of selling cigarettes illegally. The illusion of a post-racist society in the US is disintegrating, revealing what we thought had been relegated to the past; the mask of a society dominated by distrust. The danger in the four cases did not emanate from the victims. It is the police who have turned into the enemy against which no one protects you." (08/12/2014)

Radikal - Turkey

US becoming a model for police states

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday defended the Turkish police's reaction to protests on Gezi Square, describing it as mild in comparison with the police brutality in the US. The US can indeed no longer serve as a role model, the liberal daily Radikal laments: "'Black Lives Matter' and 'I Can't Breathe': the slogans of the committed people now taking to the streets in US cities immediately reach every corner of the earth. The serious violations of human rights in the US are weakening its credibility and the value of democracy in the country. And they are watering down the lessons on human rights that the US gives to other countries. Rather than being a model for developed democracies the US is becoming a model for repressive police states. That does enormous harm to efforts at strengthening democracy and human rights around the world." (08/12/2014)

De Volkskrant - Netherlands

Time to revive the fight for civil rights

The most recent cases of police brutality in the US show that the fight for civil rights hasn't been won yet, the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant warns: "Black Americans believe police brutality is linked to racism. Studies confirm this suspicion: blacks are not only more frequently victims of police brutality, they are also punished more severely than whites for the same crimes. Many black people's trust in the US judicial system has also been undermined because several police officers have either been acquitted of charges of using disproportional violence or never even had to appear in court. So it's good news that US Attorney General Eric Holder has now announced that the FBI will investigate Garner's death. Holder believes these incidents must prompt America to revive the fight for civil rights in the US. That's a hopeful sign." (08/12/2014)


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Le Figaro - France

Valls has no choice but to do nothing

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced in an interview on Sunday that he wanted to remain in office until the end of François Hollande's term as president in 2017, and defended the 'responsibility pact' reform package. The conservative daily Le Figaro fears the worst: "Manuel Valls himself has no doubt understood that the political reality does not offer him any other choice but to keep a low profile. If he shifts to the left, Brussels and Berlin will redouble their criticism. If he really pushes for reform, all the opponents in his own camp will put him in the pillory. What should he do or say? François Hollande has the answer: not much. The prime minister assured us yesterday that he wants to remain in office until the end of the president's five-year term. His words and his expressions suggest a total standstill. If Valls puts a brake on what remains of his will for reform, France will continue wasting time and wallowing in the quagmire." (08/12/2014)

Imerisia - Greece

Only united can Greece escape the crisis

The parliament in Athens approved the 2015 budget on Sunday night. The government is calling it the first balanced budget in decades, while the troika reckons with a budget deficit of 2.5 billion euros. The business paper Imerisia calls on Greece's politicians to close ranks: "Greece stands above parties, governments or political careers, and under no circumstances should all that has been achieved at the price of incredible effort be jeopardised. Visible and invisible enemies should be made to feel that the country is united. Politicians must send these enemies a clear message. The parties are duty bound to sit down together and take the decisions that will lead the country out of the crisis. This 'survival training' is very difficult, but absolutely necessary. ... Greece has no time to lose." (06/12/2014)

Hospodárske noviny - Slovakia

Left Party no threat to democracy in Germany

Bodo Ramelow became the first politician of the Left Party to be elected premier of a German state on Friday. The liberal business daily Hospodářské noviny takes a relaxed view of the matter: "The Left Party for which Ramelow ran may be the direct successor of the SED, the party of the East German communists, but this is not a return to old times. Democracy is not in danger, especially since the post-communists won't rule alone in Thuringia but together with the Greens and the SPD. This is more a sign that the radical left is gaining more and more support. The Left Party propagates a 'democratic socialism' and demands a reform of capitalism in its manifesto, however it doesn't profess commitment to Marx or Lenin but rather to Keynesianism and the modern intellectual proponents of social justice. In 1989 the party's leader Katja Kipping was just eleven years old." (08/12/2014)


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La Stampa - Italy

Roberto Toscano calls for calm reaction to Putin

Europe and the West must act judiciously regarding Russia's president because they are partially to blame for his aggressive policies and rhetoric, political scientist Roberto Toscano warns in the liberal daily La Stampa: "We have committed a grave political mistake by underestimating Russia's interests, the matter of its security (in connection with the idea of Ukraine joining Nato) and its national pride. We have given Putin an excuse for his revanchism. To give in to Putin's aggressive policy would do as little good as to get into a panic. Rather we should remain calm and stick to the goal of a diplomatic solution. Diplomacy can only be credible if it goes hand in hand with the necessary resolve to help Ukraine to consolidate both economically and in terms of its political institutions. ... There will be a Russia after Putin. ... A Russia that despite all the Eurasian projects belongs historically and culturally to Europe, and which will one day belong to Europe economically and politically once more." (08/12/2014)


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Financial Times - United Kingdom

Europe won't survive without immigration

Europe has no choice but to accept immigration, the liberal business paper Financial Times comments on the EU Commission's current Ageing Report on population development in Europe: "In a Europe defined by ageing societies, shrinking workforces and stagnant living standards, immigration is both a partial economic solution and a political problem in its own right. ... Arguably, the report's most important conclusion is that European societies are ageing so fast that, even with high net inward migration, the EU will in 2060 have only two working-age people for every person aged over 65, instead of four working-age people as is the case now. Such a sobering estimate makes it clear why immigration seems more of an economic necessity than a political choice." (07/12/2014)


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Magyar Nemzet - Hungary

Orbán is indeed fighting child poverty

Left-liberal media criticise Viktor Orbán's right-wing conservative government for the drastic increase in child poverty in Hungary. According to the OECD almost a third of the country's children live in circumstances of great hardship. The pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet disputes the veracity of these accusations and statistics: "No matter how much the government does to alleviate poverty, for instance by giving more and more children in backwards regions food for free, the left-liberal media refuse to acknowledge it. Instead they indulge in panic-mongering and bombard their readers with poverty reports that contradict the data of Hungary's Central Statistical Office. ... If there has been one government in the past 25 years that really has done something to help children living in poverty, it is the Orbán government." (07/12/2014)

Phileleftheros - Cyprus

A bleak country awaits Cypriot returnees

According to a current study put out by the Cypriot Statistical Service, a growing number of Cypriots are returning from abroad to find work and settle down in their home country. The liberal daily Phileleftheros voices a word of warning to those returning: "The moment the plane lands in your home country you'll notice that you've lost all contact with a modern state. Instead of a civilised European country, all you'll get is a poor imitation. ... Your children will probably grow up in a relatively secure environment, but without a trace of imagination or creativity. They'll attend expensive kindergartens and schools with teachers who reject any attempt at modernisation. ... In the study you say you've come back to find work. Sorry, but haven't you heard about the deposit haircut and the collapse of the banks?" (07/12/2014)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

CSU continues to exploit resentment

The Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of the conservative governing party CDU, demanded on Friday that migrants be pressured to speak German at home. This has drawn fierce criticism, so that the party leadership plans to convene today, Monday, to discuss the issue again. The CSU is clearly not interested in integration, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung comments: "The 'Welcome Center' is run by civic action groups and the language courses in Munich are paid by the City Council. Instead of ensuring that the children of immigrants all go to kindergarten the CSU prefers to waste money on its care allowance [for parents who don't send their children under three to daycare]. Yet all the linguists concur that the best way for Turkish or Syrian parents to help their children is to send them to a German kindergarten and set a good example by attending German courses themselves, not by talking to them in broken German at the dinner table. But the CSU doesn't always want to solve problems. Just as with the road toll for foreigners, it wants to exploit resentment." (08/12/2014)

El País - Spain

Finland must not give up writing by hand

As of 2016 learning to write by hand will no longer be mandatory in Finland's schools. Instead pupils will make greater use of keyboards. The left-liberal daily El País sees this decision by the Finnish minister for culture as misguided: "People (children and adults) write to think. Or to put it in poetic terms, to express clearly thoughts that the thinker didn't know he or she had before they put them on paper. Writing by hand is a slower process than typing, and therefore allows a greater degree of reflection. ... It is to be feared that abandoning handwriting will result in adults educated this way being capable of writing down ideas more quickly which, however, they no longer have. The proponents of writing by hand are not acting out an aversion to technology or the capricious desire to defend something old-fashioned. Educating means conveying a sense of the value of things. This can be better achieved by teaching to write by hand than by teaching uniform fast writing." (08/12/2014)

Eesti Päevaleht - Estonia

Estonian grammar frightens Russians

Teaching methods are the biggest obstacle to Estonia's Russian population learning Estonian, writes Tuuli Oder, head of the Language Centre at Tallinn University, in the liberal daily Eesti Päevaleht: "The former practice of translating grammar has not proved particularly successful in Estonian classes. Why not? Mainly because the goal of language learning has changed over the centuries. This method concentrates on transmitting knowledge like: 'how many cases are there in the Estonian language'. The goal of language teaching today, however, is to enable people to communicate in the foreign language. Communication can only be free in the foreign language when learners aren't afraid of making mistakes. ...The non-Estonians living in Estonia can't speak the language because the language teaching methods are as old as the hills." (08/12/2014)


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Trouw - Netherlands

Facebook pretending to enhance data protection

The US company Facebook will alter its data protection guidelines as of 1 January 2015 in reaction to persistent criticism of the social network. But the Christian Social daily Trouw doubts that the measures will really improve data protection: "It's high time the Netherlands and the EU armed themselves more effectively against the data collectors of this world. The private sphere has long since ceased to be about 'having nothing to hide'. Facebook, and Google too, are Internet giants who use their market position to achieve total dominance. ... If a few companies hold all this information about billions of citizens they constitute a force that can no longer be democratically controlled. And only recently have we learned thanks to Edward Snowden how national intelligence services demand information from these mega-companies and can therefore put together precise profiles of their citizens." (08/12/2014)


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Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Only Uefa can put Putin in his place

Crimea's football clubs may not play in the Russian league, according to a resolution passed by Uefa on Thursday. The football bureaucrats are showing how to deal with Russia, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza writes in delight: "Uefa has simply done what Obama, Merkel and sanctions have not been able to accomplish. And it didn't even negotiate. It simply ruled that the Crimean clubs can't play in Russia. ... And this decision came just after Putin's address on the state of the nation, of all times, in which the president stressed that Crimea is sacred for him and that he can talk from a position of strength because Russia has a huge army. But he was totally off the mark as far as football goes, because the only one who can talk from a position of strength on that topic is Uefa." (08/12/2014)

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