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Romania’s Gold Rush: mining risks (06/03)

Despite tragic lessons of the past, the Romania is about to destroy the cultural, economic, and environmental balance of an area considered an ecological and archaeological paradise. At risk is Rosia Montana, an area in the Apuseni mountains of West-Central Romania.

In 2000, the Tisza river and its tributaries became flowing rivers of death as cyanide from an Australian-run open-pit gold mine leaked into the environment. Now the entire region has come under the speculative gaze of the government and foreign investors, who hope to make a fortune mining gold in the region. Despite the warnings of many economists and independent mining experts who feel the project is not viable, it’s another disaster waiting to happen. read more

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Europe at the Crossroads (11/02)

When the results of the Irish referendum on the Nice treaty became official in September, a sigh of relief reverberated throughout the European Union (EU) and beyond, namely into the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Although it’s hard to say for sure what would have happened had it gone the other way, one thing is certain: it wouldn’t have been pretty. Vaclav Havel went so far as to warn that failure to ratify the Nice treaty would lead to a new Iron Curtain. Other CEE leaders simply preferred to grovel and beg to be let in. read more

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Big Brother is Back (3/02)

Falling in line behind other industrialized Western nations at the end of 2001, Hungary pushed through an anti-terrorism package containing a host of new measures and regulations intended to aid in the so-called global effort to combat terrorism. Although the government wanted to speed the measures through parliament, the opposition did slow them down somewhat. But the motivation wasn’t genuine concern about privacy and such; rather, it was just an opportune time to score some feeble political points. read more

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Mad Cows, Stunned Politicians (5/01)

Not long ago, when mad cow disease (BSE) in the UK was thought to be under control, there was much publicity about the renewed safety of eating British beef. Indeed, when EU sanctions were lifted, German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder went so far as to claim he’d soon be eating some.

Since then, however, German politicians have come under fire for not taking the threat seriously enough. Until mid-November 2000, the government insisted no BSE existed in Germany. Before then, BSE cases and its human variant, vCJD, had been reported only in other parts of Europe. Then it appeared in Germany. Both consumers and farmers became unsure and frightened, and the country’s agriculture policy soon came under increased criticism. read more

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Second Class Refugees (11/98)

A humanitarian disaster looms on the horizon in Kosovo. As winter approaches, thousands displaced by the fighting live out in the open, running the myriad risks associated with exposure. Meanwhile, safe within the walls of fortress Europe, efforts are underway to reinforce barriers to entry through an Austrian proposal to "harmonize" European Union (EU) immigration and refugee policy.

Not only would that plan mean greater difficulties for those seeking asylum, it also threatens to set a precedent for countries outside the EU, and even redefine the Geneva Convention on Human Rights. By limiting the definition of who can be considered a "true" refugee, it could restrict the rights of refugees and asylum seekers worldwide. read more

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The Real Meaning of Kosovo (8/98)

During a popular morning show in Hungary, police revealed the images of suspects in the high-profile murder of a prominent businessman earlier this year. As the news report continued, the camera zoomed in on the face of the key suspect until his face covered the entire screen, continuing until all one saw were his eyes, staring menacingly. The announcer’s tone of voice reinforced the effect, searing into viewers’ consciousness that this was a Kosovo Albanian.

Ever since the murder, the Hungarian media has taken every opportunity to reiterate that the suspects were thought to be — and are now positively identified to be — Kosovo Albanians.While such media techniques may be suitable for art or entertainment, they’re not appropriate for news. In terms of propaganda, however, they’re very effective, coming precariously close to brainwashing. read more