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Round-up of news stories from across the EU
15.2.16
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EU: Bosnia applies for EU membership, hoping to make up ground (AP, link): "Bosnia handed in its application for EU membership Monday, hoping to catch up with its neighbors on the EU path but confronting the reality that many in the country have grown tired of waiting for jobs and prosperity and are already voting with their feet"

EU: Missing Children in EU: what we need to know (The European Post, link): "250,000 children are reported missing every year in the European Union, 1 child every 2 minutes – European Commission."

FRANCE: Access to Connection Data: French Council of State Flees EU Debate (La Qudrature du Net, link): "The French Council of State has released an eagerly awaited decision (fr) on the validity of administrative access to connection data. La Quadrature du Net, French Data Network and the FDN Federation have been calling into question the Military Programmation Law (LPM) and its application decree that enables the administration to access connection data without requiring any judicial control. By refusing to repeal the decree and to transmit the question to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a preliminary ruling, the Council of State avoids any judicial debate and isolates French vis-à-vis EU case law."

Greece on high alert after Britons arrested for arms trafficking (The Guardian, link): "The arrest in north-east Greece of three British men with a mammoth cache of arms and ammunition has heightened fears of Europe’s weakest link becoming a major route for the trafficking of weapons bound for Syria and Turkey.

On Sunday, counter-terrorism officials were investigating three men – all Iraqi Kurds with British passports – seized in two separate operations near the Greek-Turkish frontier. They were found in possession of 22 firearms and more than 200,000 rounds of ammunition."

NETHERLANDS: Reinventing democracy as an expression of freedom (ROAR, link): "The sixth New World Summit brought together activists, academics and artists from across the globe to discuss the idea and practice of stateless democracy."

Poland moves to strip leading Holocaust historian of national accolade (i24, link): "Poland's national government has moved to strip a leading Jewish-American scholar of a national accolade for asserting that Poland was complicit in Nazi war crimes against the Jewish population during the Holocaust, the Guardian reported on Sunday.

Polish-born Jan Tomasz Gross, a Princeton University history professor, was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in 1996 for his work documenting the plight of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland."

UK child prisons: thousands of injuries not disclosed by government (The Guardian, link): "Thousands more children have been injured in custody through the use of controversial restraint techniques than the government had previously disclosed, new statistics show. This has prompted accusations that the true scale of harm in privately run jails has been suppressed. Figures reveal that the number of injuries to children caused by the use of restraint is more than three times higher than the total previously stated by the Youth Justice Board (YJB)."

UK: Early guilty pleas: Justice for whom? (UK Human Rights Blog, link): "New guidelines incentivising people accused of criminal offences in England and Wales to plead guilty as early as possible were proposed last week. While existing rules allow for a maximum one-third reduction in the sentence to those who plead guilty at the ‘first reasonable opportunity’, this benefit is now only available to those who plead guilty at their very first court hearing, with the available reduction falling on a steeper sliding scale thereafter."

UK: Fifth of GCHQ intelligence comes from hacking (The Telegraph, link): "In submissions to the hearing, it emerged that in 2013 around 20 per cent of GCHQ’s intelligence reports contained information derived from hacking.

The tactic, also known as computer network exploitation, allows authorities to interfere with electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and PCs in order to obtain data.

Operations can range from using a target's login credentials to gain access to information held on a computer to more sophisticated tactics such as remotely installing a piece of software in order to obtain the desired intelligence and covertly downloading the contents of a mobile phone."

UK: Kidnapped British father spends 600th day in illegal detention (Reprieve, link): "A British father of three who was kidnapped to Ethiopia in 2014 will today spend his 600th day in detention.

Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege, from London, has been detained by Ethiopian forces since 23rd June 2014, when he was seized at an airport in Yemen and forcibly taken to Ethiopia. He is held under a sentence of death handed down in absentia in 2009, in relation to his activities with an Ethiopian opposition group. The Ethiopian authorities have refused to allow Mr Tsege to see or talk to his British family, and have denied his requests to see a lawyer."

UK: Lincolnshire police SUSPENDED for misusing stop and search (Lincolnshire Echo, link): "Lincolnshire Police has been suspended from a voluntary scheme after misusing the way it stops and searches people.

The force is one of 13 police divisions in England and Wales which has been suspended from the Best Use of Stop and Search with immediate effect.

Lincolnshire officers failed to comply with three or more of the scheme's requirements."

UK: Luqman Onikosi: Nigerian student urges Government not to deport him ‘back to death sentence’ (The Independent, link): "A student who faces deportation, despite suffering from ill health, is urging the Government to see him as “an equal human being” as he insists the Home Office will be sending him “back to a death sentence” in his home country."

UK: Police commissioners have no part to play in the running of schools (politics.co.uk, link): " Many people don't know it – and possibly even fewer care – but in three months, the second cohort of police and crime commissioners (PCCs) will have been elected. The first elections in November 2012 attracted a turnout of just 15% – the lowest ever at a peacetime non-local government election in the UK.

Which is perhaps why the home secretary’s recent speech about the future of PCCs scarcely made a ripple – despite unveiling a catalogue of new powers so absurd they wouldn't look out of place in The Thick of It."

UK: Revealed: Britain’s National Crime Agency Helped Thai Police Put Two Men On Death Row (Buzzfeed, link): "The National Crime Agency secretly assisted the Royal Thai Police with a controversial murder investigation that put two Burmese migrants on death row despite government rules designed to stop British law enforcement contributing to capital punishment convictions overseas."

UK: Tory socks in a twist over charities (Morning Star, link): "As a government minister calls charities that speak out ‘sock puppets,’ SOLOMON HUGHES looks at the interdependency of the two and the wider political implications for a sector with a total income of £37.9 billion"

USA: Drones do ‘lower threshold for use of lethal force’ academic study finds (Drone Wars UK, link): "In essence it is argued that averse public reaction to the death of military forces deployed overseas is a real restraint on political leaders weighing up the option of whether to launch military intervention. Take away that potential political cost by using unmanned systems such as drones and it becomes much easier for political leaders to opt for ‘clean and quick’ use of military force rather than the slow and often difficult political and diplomatic options. While we and others have been making this argument for some time, an important new study by two US academics published in a US military journal sheds new light on the subject.

In ‘The Ethics of Drone Strikes: Does Reducing the Cost of Conflict Encourage War?’ James Walsh and Marcus Schulzke report on their empirical study into how public attitudes towards the use of armed force change when unmanned drones are used in comparison to the deployment of other types of force."

Why ISIS Propaganda Works (The Atlantic, link): "In January, the State Department restructured its own counterpropaganda apparatus, creating a “Global Engagement Center” to “more effectively coordinate, integrate and synchronize messaging to foreign audiences that undermines the disinformation espoused by violent extremist groups, including ISIL and al-Qaeda.” However, even in this new guise—which, while it marks an important push in the right direction, risks being too centralized within national governments at the same time that it lacks the requisite level of coordination among different countries—the coalition’s information operations are facing an almost insurmountable challenge. Such a state of affairs is untenable. To ameliorate it, a new communications architecture is required, based on three pillars: global strategic direction, local delivery, and a broader, more accurate understanding of how and why the Islamic State appeals."

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