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News digest: 29 January 2013

AUSTRIA: Number of asylum application in Austria has shot up (Austrian Times): "The number of applications for political asylum in Austria has risen considerably in the last year. Some 17,415 applications were made in upper-Austria – that's a 20,8 percent increase compared to 2011. A further 533 asylum seekers are currently put up in Traiskirchen, near Vienna"

Croatian court frees jailed journalist (Balkan Insight): "The Zagreb municipal court on Thursday released the well-known journalist Jasna Babic - who was taken into custody earlier this week for missing her own libel trial"

EU calls for Maghreb economic integration (Magharebia): "Economic integration is needed in the Maghreb so that development targets can be achieved, the European Union recently asserted"

EU warns Bosnia over human rights ruling (Balkan Insight): "If Bosnia fails to act fast on the 2009 'Sejdic and Finci' rights ruling, Brussels may not recognise the next Bosnian elections, the EU Enlargement Commissioner has warned"

EU: New EU cyber security directive (a European CISPA) expected within weeks (Infosecurity): "On December 18, 2012, EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes announced her ‘digital to-do list’ for 2013-2014, one of which is to ‘propose EU cyber-security strategy and Directive’. The draft directive is now in circulation and will likely be presented later this month or early next"

FINLAND: New security committee launched (Helsinki Times): "On Thursday, the Finnish government decided to launch a new security committee to assess and monitor Finland’s security situation. The committee – proposed initially two years ago by a task force on crisis preparation, led by Pekka Hallberg – will replace the current, more limited, Security and Defence Committee under the Ministry of Defence. The committee will assist the Finnish Government and ministries in ensuring the safety of the citizens and the state by developing strategies on crisis preparation, crisis and emergency management, and recovery"

France orders Twitter to identify racist users (France 24): " A French court ruled Thursday that Twitter must help identify the authors of racist tweets posted on its site. The ruling follows a complaint brought by an activist group in October that argued such tweets breach laws against inciting racial hatred"

FRANCE: Police raid prompts IMF's Lagarde to speak out (France 24): "IMF chief Christine Lagarde denied on Thursday any wrongdoing in the settling of a 2008 fraud case after police stepped up their investigation into the affair, searching the home of her former chief of staff, France Telecom CEO Stéphane Richard"

GERMANY: Accounting irregularities: Far-right NPD party seeks to avoid paying fine (Spiegel Online): "Germany's far-right NPD party has been trying to dodge paying a 1.27 million euro fine it was slapped with in December for accounting irregularities. The party is painting itself as a victim of parliamentary discrimination and is challenging the penalty"

GERMANY: Anti-terror laws face increased scrutiny (Deutsche Welle): "Security versus privacy - it's a dilemma that all anti-terror legislation must address. A new commission has only six months to examine Germany's anti-terror laws. "Since September 11, around the world and in Germany we've had a plethora of new laws that were introduced at the highest speed," Burkhard Hirsch, a civil liberties advocate who is a member of Germany's classical liberal Free Democratic Party, told DW. "This has significantly changed what is euphemistically known as the security architecture""

GERMANY: 'Credible deterrence': Germany plans to deploy armed drones (Spiegel Online): "A document obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE indicates the German government is preparing to procure armed drones for foreign combat. Opposition politicians are outraged by the development and note that the use of weapons-equipped unmanned aircraft is legally dubious and possibly unethical"

GERMANY: Internet access declared a basic right in Germany (Deutsche Welle): "A top German court has ruled that people can sue their Internet providers for damages if connection is lost. The court has ruled that access to the Internet represents a basic need in modern society"

GREECE: Crisis-hit Greeks chop up forests to stay warm (BBC News)

GREECE: Migrants attacked by club-wielding assailants (Ekathimerini): "A Pakistani national was hospitalized late on Thursday after a group of assailants wielding clubs burst into a mini market in the central city of Larissa where he and some compatriots had been talking and attacked them"

GREECE: Riot police break metro strike, subway reopens (Greek Reporter): "Greek riot police in the early morning of Jan. 25 stormed the Athens subway train depot, where striking workers had barricaded themselves in attempting to continue their 8-day strike. Police broke through the gates and removed dozens of strikers. Authorities blocked off roads leading to the depot in western Athens to prevent hundreds of strike supporters who began arriving from getting to the depot. No violence was reported although the head of the workers union said they were prepared to resist." See also: Riot police remove striking metro workers from Athens train depot (Ekathimerini)

IRELAND: TD Mathews faces dressing down over anti-bailout protest (Irish Independent): "Outspoken Fine Gael TD Peter Mathews could be in line for another dressing down from the party hierarchy for attending an anti-bailout festival"

Italy corruption levels 'mortifying', court president says (Gazzetta del Sud): "Italy's corruption levels, estimated to be on par with Bosnia, are an embarrassment, according to comments made on Friday in an official speech by Ernesto Lupo, chief president of the Court of Cassation"

ITALY: Berlusconi's Holocaust remarks 'disgusting' (Irish Times): "Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi triggered outrage from Italy's political left today with comments defending fascist wartime leader Benito Mussolini at a ceremony commemorating victims of the Nazi Holocaust"

ITALY: 36% of prison population awaiting judgement (Gazzetta del Sud): "Justice Minister Paola Severino expressed her ''deep bitterness and discomfort over the ongoing dramatic nature of the situation in Italian prisons'' at the official opening of the judicial year on Friday. ''It is unacceptable that at the start of this month, 24,124 detainees out of 65,789, or around 36% of the entire prison population, should be awaiting justice,'' Severino said"

JAPAN: New privacy visor beats facial recognition systems (Security Technology News): "Researchers in Japan have developed glasses that can defeat facial recognition technologies by emitting near-infrared light beams, invisible to the naked eye. Presented with this light source, facial recognition software can't accurately identity these glasses' wearers, it's claimed"

MALTA: Updated: Scuffles as immigrants try to jump the queue (Times of Malta): "No one was injured this morning when scuffles broke out in front of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration as immigrants tried to jump the queue to get inside for identity cards and residence permits"

Montenegro refugees await legal status concession (Balkan Insight): "Parliament must agree a proposal to give wartime refugees from Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo another year to apply for 'resident foreigner' status guaranteeing rights to work and welfare"

NORTHERN IRELAND: 3,000 attend Bloody Sunday anniversary march in Derry (RTÉ News): "Up to 3,000 people have attended a march in Derry to mark the 41st anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when 14 civilians were killed after British army paratroopers opened fired on a civil rights demonstration in the Bogside area"

NORTHERN IRELAND: Anthony McIntyre wants remaining Belfast Project interviews destroyed (RTÉ News): "A journalist involved in the Belfast Project archive at Boston College has said the remaining interviews in the controversial project should be destroyed to prevent them being released for use in a PSNI investigation"

NORWAY: People suffering from dementia could be tagged (The Foreigner): "Norway’s government suggests permitting healthcare staff to equip those in need of care and suffering from dementia with a GPS"

POLAND: Drugs possession row rages on (New Poland Express): "Poland’s ongoing drugs debate continued this week with the majority of major parties making their personal stance on the matter clear in the press"

Serbia forms commission into journalists' killings (Balkan Insight): "The Serbian government has set up a commission to investigate the unsolved murders of reporters"

SWEDEN: 'I was asked to murder Palme': weapons expert (The Local): "A Swedish man claimed on Sunday that the murder of then Prime Minister Olof Palme was a police conspiracy, and that he had turned down a police request to gun down Palme himself back in 1985"

SYRIA: Good terrorist, bad terrorist (Dissident Voice): "European authorities admit NATO and Al Qaeda are allies in Syria"

UK: Anger rises over 'secret justice' Bill (The Independent): "Ministers face a fresh rebellion this week over plans to allow court cases affecting national security to be heard behind closed doors – despite claims that they have "substantially rewritten" the proposals to head off protests from Liberal Democrats." See also: Tory MP Andrew Tyrie attacks secret courts bill (The Guardian)

UK: Anti-terror chief warns of homegrown Breiviks (The Guardian): "More terror threats to the UK are coming from people who "self-radicalise" on the internet, like the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, the new head of one of the UK's busiest counter-terrorism commanders has warned"

UK: Context is everything - European Court of Human Rights struck out 99% of UK cases in 2012 (UK Human Rights Blog)

UK: Doctors ask court to decide whether refugee on hunger strike can be forcibly fed (The Independent): "Doctors have asked a court to decide whether a refugee on hunger strike can be forcibly fed. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons and is referred to in court documents as “A”, went on hunger strike to demand that the UK Border Agency returns his passport"

UK: Hundreds of women still wrongly imprisoned (The Guardian): "Hundreds of British women continue to be wrongly imprisoned, according to a study that condemns the government for not complying with international standards set by the United Nations on treatment of female inmates"

UK: ICO to change cookie policy to recognise implied consent (Out-Law.com): "The UK's privacy watchdog will no longer require individuals' explicit consent in order to serve them with 'cookies' when they visit its website"

UK: Immigration: Romanian or Bulgarian? You won't like it here (The Guardian): "Please don't come to Britain – it rains and the jobs are scarce and low-paid. Ministers are considering launching a negative advertising campaign in Bulgaria and Romania to persuade potential immigrants to stay away from the UK." See also: 'Don't come here, it's not very nice' - Ministers plan a campaign to put off Romanians and Bulgarians migrants (The Telegraph) and UK moves to chase away Bulgarians, Romanians with rain (Novinite)

UK: Ministry of Justice seeks bids to protect it from cyber attacks (The Independent): "Big name companies in the field of cyber-security are eyeing a £100m-plus contract to protect the Ministry of Justice's IT systems from hackers and computer viruses"

UK: Revealed: who can fly drones in UK airspace (The Guardian): "Defence firms, police forces and fire services are among more than 130 organisations that have permission to fly small drones in UK airspace, the Guardian can reveal"

UK: Secret UK uranium components plant closed over safety fears (The Guardian): "A top-secret plant at Aldermaston that makes enriched uranium components for Britain's nuclear warheads and fuel for the Royal Navy's submarines has been shut down because corrosion has been discovered in its "structural steelwork", the Guardian can reveal"

UN launches probe into drone strikes (Al Jazeera): "The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has launched an investigation into drone strikes and will review resultant civilian casualties to determine whether the attacks constitute a war crime"

USA: 11 body parts defense researchers will use to track you (Wired) : "Cell phones that can identify you by how you walk. Fingerprint scanners that work from 25 feet away. Radars that pick up your heartbeat from behind concrete walls. Algorithms that can tell identical twins apart. Eyebrows and earlobes that give you away. A new generation of technologies is emerging that can identify you by your physiology. And unlike the old crop of biometric systems, you don't need to be right up close to the scanner in order to be identified. If they work as advertised, they may be able to identify you without you ever knowing you've been spotted"

USA: Anarchist threat modeling and private data-mining for intelligence (325): "On 20 January, the independent surveillance researcher Asher Wolf tweeted an astonishing link* to a private intelligence corporation’s website containing a document entitled: “Tartan Influence Model: Anarchist Groups.” The document was published by a corporation called Tartan Metrics, a division of the information security, cyberwar and surveillance company NTREPID — a company that reportedly has a contract worth millions of dollars to create fake (“sockpuppet”) Twitter accounts to spread US military propaganda"

USA: PBS special follows the 'rise of the drones' (US News): "Producer Peter Yost talks about convincing the government to provide access for the documentary"



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