Focus On Europe
This series provides offers a fascinating mix of stories exploring the important political, economic and cultural developments in Europe. With the unity of the region under threat from the bankrupt economies of Greece, Portugal, and Spain, the global economy continues to feel Europe's pain, and EJ is there each week with reports and analysis from Berlin, Paris, and London. The program also views the crises in Europe through the eyes of those whose lives have been affected the most. Presenter Nina Haase provides her unique take on the week's stories, telling the story with compelling video, strong reporting, and a good sense of humor.
Focus On Europe Previous Broadcasts
Russia's Dashboard Cameras - A Legal Necessity (Episode #3112)
KQED World: Tue, Mar 26, 2013 -- 4:30 AM
GERMANY: FROM MUSEUM TO AUCTION HOUSE - Many museums in eastern Germany face an uncertain future. They have to return numbers of exhibits to their former owners. A 20-year time limit on returning art objects expropriated by communist East Germany is running out. After the Second World War, illegal trade in art was rife, at least in eastern Germany. In communist East Germany private collectors and aristocrats in particular were systematically dispossessed. The public collections have now had two decades to come to agreements with the artworks' former owners. Where that has not been possible, auction houses now have cause to rejoice.
HUNGARY: RESISTANCE FROM THE JUDICIARY - Time and again Viktor Orban's regime in Hungary has tried to disempower the country's courts. They have been bastions of resistance and overturned one piece of legislation after another. The history of Hungary's only opposition radio station is all too symbolic of the power struggle between the government and the courts. The state media authority has already tried several times to revoke the frequency rights of the broadcaster Klubradio. Now, for the fourth time, a court has ruled in favor of the station. The courts also struck down a ban on homeless people living on the streets and an amendment on church recognition. Now Hungary's right-wing prime minister Viktor Orban has amended the constitution, drastically curtailing the powers of the Constitutional Court.
RUSSIA: SELF-HELP ON THE ROADS - They film everything that moves on Russia's roads: car accidents, meteor strikes and traffic jams. Dash cams have taken off in Russia. More and more drivers have dashboard mounted cameras in their vehicles, though that has little to do with pure voyeurism. Whether staged car accidents or cases of attempts at police bribery, when there's doubt, the pictures from dash cams are considered in court to constitute evidence.
- KQED World: Sat, Mar 30, 2013 -- 7:00 AM
- KQED World: Tue, Mar 26, 2013 -- 10:30 AM
Old Spy Habits Die Hard In Romania (Episode #3111)
KQED World: Tue, Mar 19, 2013 -- 4:30 AM
ROMANIA: SPY HABITS DIE HARD - A former Romanian spy has won a court case against his own country. But his victims are still waiting for the full story. Romania's communist-era secret police, the Securitate, was one of the world's most feared. But it appears its successor intelligence agency, the SRI, adopted the old surveillance practices for many years after the overthrow of the Ceausescu regime. The evidence comes from protocols drawn up by a former Securitate spy. In 1996 he went public. The Romanian authorities sentenced him to two years in jail - but the former spy has now been vindicated by the European Court of Human Rights.
MOSCOW: DIZZYING HEIGHTS - The Russian capital is home to half of Europe's tallest sykscrapers. For one particular group of young people, they're the ultimate challenge. Ice and snow are no obstacle to these young Muscovites. They scale the dizzy heights of the city's skyscrapers whatever the weather - and without any harnesses. Until now just a bit of illegal fun, their escapades could now become a professional career. The billionaire owner of Moscow's tallest tower has expressed his support and a personal connection to the youngsters and their adventures.
ICELAND: FISH SUFFOCATE IN FJORD - Iceland is currently seeing an environmental disaster affecting its fish stocks. Around 50,000 tons of herring have died in a fjord there, and are now rotting away after being washed up on its banks. Experts suspect that low levels of oxygen are to blame for the mass of dead fish. What's more, the oil excreted by the herring can in turn become a danger for birds by clogging up their feathers and wings. We take a look at what the local community is doing to get rid of the problem.
- KQED World: Sat, Mar 23, 2013 -- 7:00 AM
- KQED World: Tue, Mar 19, 2013 -- 10:30 AM
A Political Outsider Rises to the Top In Italy (Episode #3110)
KQED World: Tue, Mar 12, 2013 -- 4:30 AM
CROATIA/GERMANY: HOPING FOR JUSTICE - Croatia is set to join the European Union on July 1. This is giving hope to former Croatian exiles and their families, who want to take former members of the Yugoslav secret service to court. Until the end of the 1980s, Yugoslavia's State Security Administration ordered the murder of numerous Croatians living in exile in Germany. A court in Munich issued a warrant to arrest several suspects, but the men were never extradited to Germany. To this day, the suspected masterminds of the operation continue to live as free men in Croatia. Much of this difficult chapter in the country's recent history remains shrouded in mystery.
SWEDEN: HOMESICK AT THE ARCTIC CIRCLE - The Arjeplog region in Lapland is known as one of the coldest places in Europe. But it's also a popular spot for automakers to test their cars. Specialists from around the world come here to put the latest prototypes through their paces. They test the models for their ability to handle the cold. A crew from South Korea spent close to three months there, trying to get accustomed to the harsh Scandinavian winter. To keep the technicians happy they brought along their own cook. But the mechanics still get bouts of homesickness and often work long hours to forget their troubles.
ITALY: THE OUTSIDER - The parliamentary elections are over, but Italy still hasn't been able to form a government. That's because close to 60 percent of Italians voted for political outsiders - like former comedian Beppe Grillo. In the 1980s Grillo was a popular TV personality, known for his biting political satire. Then he became an activist and, eight years ago, started his own blog. In 2007, Grillo organized a massive rally to demand that over two dozen Italian politicians with criminal records leave office. His party "Movimento 5 stelle" or the "Five Stars Movement" won more than 25 percent of the vote in the recent general election, but Grillo has vowed it will not join any coalition.
GERMANY: SAVING REUTLINGEN'S WORLD RECORD - For six years, the Swabian city of Reutlingen has been the home of the world's narrowest street. But now that record is in danger. The world's narrowest street is just 31 centimeters wide. It's really just a gap between two crooked houses. But Spreuerhofstrasse became famous after it earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. It's now one of Reutlingen's biggest tourist attractions. However, the beams of the neighboring half-timbered house are bending and could cause the building to collapse.
- KQED World: Sat, Mar 16, 2013 -- 7:00 AM
- KQED World: Tue, Mar 12, 2013 -- 10:30 AM
A Question of Faith In Spain (Episode #3109)
KQED World: Tue, Mar 5, 2013 -- 4:30 AM
The Greek government has introduced harsh austerity measures in response to the ongoing financial crisis. Among the moves to replenish the public coffers was a five-fold tax increase on heating oil. That backfired when sales of heating oil plunged drastically. The details:
SPAIN: A QUESTION OF FAITH - One of the bulwarks of the Catholic Church in Europe, Spain has carried out numerous reforms in recent years - legalizing same-sex marriage, easing the divorce process, and liberalizing abortion access. When Pope Benedict XVI chastised Spain for these reforms during his visit to the country, many Catholics there found themselves drawn into a conflict between contemporary mores and the will of the Vatican. How have Spanish Catholics come to terms with this dilemma, and what are their expectations for the next pope?
GREECE: FACING THE COLD WITH FIRE - Greece's forests are being decimated by illegal logging. It's a growing problem, exacerbated by a tax increase on heating oil that has caused sales to plunge by around 80%. Before the economic crisis, fireplaces in Greek living rooms were a status symbol. Today, though, fireplaces and ovens have become a necessity for many households. Just about anything that can be burned is used for fuel, including wood that's been logged illegally. In larger cities, the smoke has also caused a spike in air pollution during the winter.
SLOVENIA: CRISIS OVER CORRUPTION - For many in Slovenia, it was the last straw. The government had long been faltering, and then an anti-corruption commission said that both the prime minister and the head of the opposition had failed to properly report their financial assets. For weeks, the country has been riven by mass demonstrations against corrupt and feckless politicians. The wave of protests began after Ljubljana mayor and opposition leader Zoran Jankovic was forced to step down late last December. Recent revelations about Prime Minister Janez Jansa have intensified the crisis. Several coalition parties have now quit the government.
ESTONIA: A CAPITAL INTRODUCES FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT - Tallinn in Estonia is the first European capital to offer its residents free public transport. The move was aimed at cutting down on car pollution and traffic in the city. Instead of driving, residents are being encouraged to turn to trams and busses. But some critics say it's a poor use of public funds and could lead to cuts in social services.
- KQED World: Sat, Mar 9, 2013 -- 7:00 AM
- KQED World: Tue, Mar 5, 2013 -- 10:30 AM
The Swiss Vote On Limiting Corporate Salaries (Episode #3108)
KQED World: Sat, Mar 2, 2013 -- 7:00 AM
Italians go to the polls later this month. The center-left coalition is favored to win. Many ordinary Italians - as well as investors and the banks - view its leader Mario Monti as a guarantor of economic stability. But scandal-plagued former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is trying to close the gap. The details:
ITALY: BERLUSCONI'S FINAL BATTLE - Italians go to the polls later this month. The face of former prime minister and current candidate Silvio Berlusconi can be seen on virtually every TV channel. He's promising jobs, tax cuts and better times. Yet Italy was verging on bankruptcy when he left office less than a year and a half ago. Berlusconi's coalition is still trailing the center-left in the opinion polls. Still his popularity increases with every television interview - in spite of the fact that he's been charged with paying for sex with an underage prostitute. The former prime minister wants to sit in parliament again. He'd even be content just to win in Lombardy, where recent polls say his coalition is out in front. This would allow him to prevent the formation of a stable majority government, to block reforms and even demand a government post, in the hopes of achieving immunity from prosecution.
GERMANY/SWEDEN: A VIKING STORY - The Viking villages of northern Europe had planned to band together to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But now the Swedes have changed their minds. Having UNESCO collectively recognize the places in northern Europe where the Vikings lived and worshipped would have meant more subsidies and more tourism. In the German Viking village of Haithabu they're disappointed with the Swedes' decision to withdraw from the project.
SWITZERLAND: REFERENDUM ON 'FAT CAT' PAY - On March 3, Swiss voters will decide whether the salaries of top executives should be set by the company's shareholders. The 'yes' side is thought to stand a good chance of winning. The referendum campaign was launched by MP Thomas Minder, a small businessman turned politician from the town of Schaffhausen. If successful, bonuses and salaries for top managers could be limited and golden handshakes eliminated.
TURKEY: ISTANBUL'S MODERNIZATION CRAZE - With a population of 15 million, Istanbul is one of Europe's fastest-growing cities. In recent years, areas of the city that have been around for centuries have fallen victim to the wrecking ball. Most of the lucrative property is being scooped up by large-scale investors. Owners who refuse to sell can do little to stop the demolitions. By law, the state is allowed to expropriate land in the interest of the common good. Legal challenges to the law have already been dismissed. Now entire districts are controlled by holding companies and a building boom has begun - even though Istanbul is located in an earthquake zone.