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June 26, 2014

Belgian men\’s goalball team departs for Finland for World Championships

Belgian men’s goalball team departs for Finland for World Championships

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

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Belgian national team selfie the day they departed for the World Championship. Pictured are Klison Mapreni, Tom Vanhove and Youssef Bihi
Image: Klison Mapreni.

This morning European time, the Belgium men’s national goalball team departed for Espoo, Finland for the 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships. The championship is the biggest competition since the 2012 Summer Paralympics.

The team is scheduled to play their opening game on the morning of June 30 against Brazil men’s national goalball team. They are scheduled to play their second game of pool play against Turkey men’s national goalball team later that afternoon. Their remaining games in pool play are against Canada, Lithuania, Egypt, China and Japan.

The members of the team are Bruno Vanhove, Tom Vanhove, Klison Mapreni, Youssef Bihi, Wassime Amnir and Glenn Van Thournout. They are coached by Jean Claude Meulemans and Werner Van Thournout. 30-year-old teammates Bruno and Tom Vanhove are sextuplet brothers, who have been part of the national goalball program for about ten years. Three of the sextuplets, including Bruno and Tom, are visually impaired. When playing, Bruno can throw the ball at speeds of up to 60 km/hour, while Tom can throw the ball at just under 55 km/hour.

Last month, with all but one of the same roster scheduled to compete at the World Championships, the national team competed at the Belgian-hosted Parantee Paralympic Championships. They lost to Algeria 7–11, defeated Russia 11–5, lost to the United States 3–13, defeated the Netherlands 10–5, narrowly lost to Finland 5–6, and lost to Lithuania 6–13.

Goalball was created in 1946, exclusively for people with a visual disability and designed to help with the rehabilitation of veterans returning from World War II. Play in the Paralympics consists of two twelve-minute periods, with a three minute break between halves. Players are blindfolded to ensure all are equally visually handicapped on-court, and the game can be stopped to ensure goggles are properly fitted. Standing in front of a long goal, they throw the ball at the opposition team’s net who in turn try to block it by listening to the ball, which contains a bell, and using their bodies to prevent the ball from going in. The audience is asked to remain silent during play.



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June 29, 2012

African Olympians and Paralympians prepare for their London odyssey

African Olympians and Paralympians prepare for their London odyssey

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  • 29 June 2015: Argentina beats Colombia 5-4 over penalties in Copa America quarter final 2015
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Friday, June 29, 2012

With only a few days before final nominations for spots to compete at the London Olympic Games and little less than a month until the start of them, African Olympians are trying to finalize their selections while preparing for their moment on the Olympic stage. Meanwhile, with two months before their own event, African Paralympians continue their own preparations this week including qualification competitions and tournaments that aid in team selection.

With a £25,000 grant on offer to any Olympic team willing to base themselves in the United Kingdom ahead of the Games, several national delegations took advantage of the opportunity to arrive early to train, acclimate and get the full Olympic experience. Gambia, Lesotho, and Egypt are a few countries that took advantage of the grant program. Egypt’s athletes will spend two weeks at the Forum sports complex in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Gambia’s Olympians will prepare for the Games at the University of York’s Huntington Athletics Stadium.

Eight Algerian boxers are making the trip to London, with Abdelhafid Benchebla leading his country’s Olympic delegation. La Tribune is optimistic about the opportunity for the country to capture its first Olympic boxing gold medal since the 2000 Sydney Games but worries that the country does not invest in its sports representatives until it is too late to improve their performance. Olympic judo medalist Ammar Benyekhlef will miss the London Games because of passport problems.

Algeria’s Paralympians are also preparing for London. Earlier this week, the national goalball team participated in a Lithuanian hosted tournament featuring teams from Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Turkey, Brazil, Belgium, the United States of America, and England. The team coach Mohamed Bettahrat talked about the tournament, saying to the French language Algerian papaer La Tribune, “A new opportunity to work with the great nations offered to us to optimize our preparation for the upcoming Paralympic Games. This is a great tournament that brings together renowned this time, the selections that will be present in London, one of our group.” tournament performance played a role in final team selection.

150 of Angola’s Paralympic hopefuls were in Luanda this week competing in the national athletics championship hoping to earn a trip to the London Paralympics. For those qualified, they will then participate in a training camp starting on July 7 in Huíla before traveling to Portugal on July 14 ahead of the Games. They then leave for London on August 4.

Past Kenyan Paralympians Joseph Kibunja and Henry Wanyoike in Hong Kong a few years ago
Image: Dennislo.

Mandatory Bristol based training has been arranged by the National Olympic Committee of Kenya for nation’s runners ahead of the Games but Kenya’s runners have implied this will disrupt their preparations. Middle-distance runner Silas Kiplagat is quoted in The Star of Nairobi in response to this mandate, “I’m not for the idea because all along, we have been training in high altitude and switching to the low altitude in Bristol is likely to be counter productive.” The Bristol idea is also opposed by Athletics Kenya, with the organization’s chairman Isaiah Kiplaga saying “The athletes have put in hard work for the last couple of months for the Olympic Games and Bristol being a low altitude area, it will hurt our medal hopes.” Kenya’s runners are expected to leave for London in two waves, with the first group leaving early next week and the second wave, which includes long distance runners, leaving closer to the start of the Games.

This past Saturday, Kenya’s Ezekiel Kemboi qualified for the London Games at the country’s national championships but his trip to the Games may be in jeopardy as two days ago, he was accused of stabbing a woman in Eldoret. According to Capital FM, Team Kenya has yet to issue a formal response to the allegations.

For two weeks, seven to nine Lesotho Olympians will prepare for the Games in north Wales, in Wrexham. Local Welshmen have been recruited to assist Lesotho competitors in their preparations for the Games, with local organizers looking for potential sparring partners if Lesotho qualifies a boxer. Two Lesotho marathon runners have already qualified. Swimmer Masempe Theko needs alternative arrangements because the Wrexham pool is only 25 meters, half the distance of the Olympic course pool. What strokes Theko will compete in at the Games is still to be determined.

At least two of Liberia’s Olympians go into the Games having competed in their sports at universities in the United States. One attended University of Texas. Another, Jangy Addy, attended the University of Tennessee and will represent the country in the decathlon after having qualified for the event.

Malawi Olympians will be headed to London with their national Olympic committee under a cloud, with the Nyasa Times alleging corruption in the contractor bidding process for facilities and other monetary handouts. The Malawi delegation only manage to qualify its athletes through the Olympic solidarity movement, which allows athletes to compete by invitation after they failed to meet qualifying standards. Fourteen year old Joyce Tafatatha and twenty-three-year old Charlton Nyirenda will represent the country in swimming. Neither swimmer has swum in a 50 meter pool before, practicing in a 25 meter unheated pool at home in Malawi. Charlton goes into the game with a goal of breaking the Malawi record of 25.46 in the 50 meter freestyle swim. Rounding out the Malawi competitors are marathoners John Kayange and Mike Tebulo, and Ambwene Simukonda who will compete in the 400 meter track event. Arriving in London earlier this week, the team is training at University of Gloucestershire’s Oxstalls campus.

According to Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC) President Sani Ndanusa, Nigeria’s athletics competitors go into the Games with medal expectations. In the lead up to London, the country’s Olympic hopefuls participated in most of the major track competitions. The national Olympic Committee has until next week to finalize the list of track and field competitors they will send to London, but they have already made the decision to only send competitors who have made Olympic A qualifying times and scores. The Committee wants to avoid the embarassment of Olympic B qualifying competitors doing poorly at the Games in front of a large population of Nigerians who live in the United Kingdom. One of the Nigerian Olympians has been able to prepare for the world stage by competing at University of Texas as an athlete. Nigeria’s national football team does not have to worry about Olympic preparations as they failed to qualify for the Games in what is seen as a major blow to football in the country.

Rwanda T46 Paralympic competitor Theoneste Nsengimana qualified for the Paralympic Games in the 1500 meter event this past Saturday following a 4.06.05 finish at the Belfort Championship in France. In the process, he set a new national record for the distance in what was only his second international competition, with his first occurring last year at the All Africa Games held in Maputo, Mozambique. Other Rwandan competitors who will join him in London include the national sitting volleyball team, power lifter Théogène Hakizimana and runner Hermas Cliff Muvunyi.

Oscar Pistorius during 2011 World championships Athletics in Daegu
Image: Erik van Leeuwen.

South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius‘s Olympic 400 metre qualifying time efforts have yet to meet with success. At a qualifying race in Benin two days ago, he finished second in a qualifying heat with a time of 46.32 seconds, 1.2 seconds slower than than the required time. He missed the qualifying time again in yesterday’s semi-final when he posted a time of 46.14 in another second place finish. He has one more opportunity to qualify for the Games before Sunday, when the qualification window closes. The double amputee’s efforts to make the Olympic Games has made international news following a 2011 ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that deemed him able to compete against able bodied athletes.

South African triathlete Kate Roberts will be based in Davos until four days before the start of the Games. She will then travel to London, where she will familiarize herself with the Olympic course ahead of the start of her event. She asked The South African to ask South African fans to chant “Hou Bene Hou”, “Go Kate Go” and “Go Vrystaat!” when she is on the Olympic course.

London bound Ugandan Janet Achola, who qualified for the London Olympics earlier this week in the 1500 meter event during the seminfinals at the African Senior Athletics Championships in Benin, made the event final to be run later today. Fellow countryman Viola Chemos is also competing. She needs to set an Olympic qualifying time in the final in order to book her own trip in the 5000 meter event.

With thirty days to go, the British ambassador assisted Zimbabwe Olympians and Paralympians with the biometric requirements for their passports and visas. When they arrive in London, their entry will be expedited. Rower Micheen Thornycroft‘s was one of the first of the Zimbawe Olympic athlete delegation to have her biometric data collected. Competitors will leave for London on July 15 with swimmer Kirsty Coventry, marathon runners Wirimayi Juwawo, Cutbert Nyasango and Sharon Tavengwa, triathlete Chris Felgate and rowers Jamie Fraser-Mackenzie and Thornycroft having already qualified but some spots for London still available at the African Senior Athletics Championships in Benin happening this week.

The 2012 London Olympic Games get underway on July 27 and will run until August 13. The Paralympics get underway on August 29 and will run until 9 September.



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February 12, 2012

Anti-ACTA activists protest across Europe

Anti-ACTA activists protest across Europe

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

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Anti-ACTA protestors on the steps of Trafalgar Square outside the National Gallery in London.
Image: Tom Morris.

Guy Fawkes masks were on display in cities across Europe yesterday as part of a protest against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an international trade agreement on copyright and intellectual property that opponents believe will limit free speech online.

Organisers of the protest said about 100,000 people turned up in German cities such as Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Hanover. In Berlin, police estimated 6,500 protestors. Protests also took place in Paris, Sofia in Bulgaria, Vilnius in Lithuania, Valetta in Malta, Tallinn in Estonia, and Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland. In London, about 200 people protested outside some major copyright holders’ offices. Last month, there were major protests in Poland when that country signed ACTA, which has led to the Polish government deciding not to ratify the agreement, for now. Latvia and Slovakia have both delayed the process of joining ACTA.

Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group, a UK digital civil liberties campaigning group, said ACTA was “undemocratic”, “lacked scrutiny”, and was “setting up dangerous new pressures to censor the internet”.

The United Kingdom have signed ACTA, along with 21 other EU countries. Germany and the Czech Republic have held out on agreeing to it, awaiting a debate on the matter in the European Parliament in June. Baroness Wilcox, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, claims signing the treaty was important to help bring about “common enforcement standards and more effective international cooperation” in intellectual property law.



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May 15, 2011

Azerbaijan win 2011 Eurovision Song Contest

Azerbaijan win 2011 Eurovision Song Contest

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Eurovision Song Contest
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The Esprit Arena, the venue for the contest

Azerbaijan has won the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest in Düsseldorf, Germany. Duo Ell & Nikki, which consists of Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Jamal, won the contest with 221 points after their performence of Running Scared. This is the first time that Azerbaijan has won the contest, they first appeared in 2008. Italy took second place and Sweden finished third.

Commenting on their country’s win the pair said “the one thing we want to say is, we just love you. Thank you for your support”. Gasimov continued to say that he was “the happiest man in the world”.

Azerbaijan received the maximum of 12 points from three countries, Russia, Turkey, and Malta.

Ukraine came fourth in the contest and fifth place went to Denmark. Switzerland came in last with 19 points. Host and last year’s winner Germany finished in tenth place. Other countries that participated in the final include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Ireland, Georgia, the United Kingdom, Moldova, Slovenia, Serbia, France, Russia, Romania, Austria, Lithuania, Iceland, Finland, Hungary, Spain, and Estonia.

Two semi-final heats were held in the days before the final to determine which acts would proceed to the final. Greece and Sweden won the semi-finals with 133 and 155 points. The countries that failed to make it to the final are Malta, Armenia, Turkey, Albania, Croatia, San Marino, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Belgium, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Belarus, Israel, F.Y.R Macedonia, Latvia, Cyprus, and the Netherlands



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November 15, 2009

European Union emerges from recession

European Union emerges from recession – Wikinews, the free news source

European Union emerges from recession

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

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The European Union has emerged from its worst recession since World War II, with the announcement on Friday that the region posted a modest growth in the third quarter. Despite the news, some EU economies including Spain and the United Kingdom are still struggling.

Both the European Union as a whole and the sixteen EU countries sharing the euro currency (the “eurozone“) posted positive growth, at 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. This follows five consecutive quarters of negative growth. The data was published by the European statistical agency Eurostat and announced by the European Commission in Brussels.

Two of Europe’s biggest economies, France and Germany, helped drive the overall growth. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde announced the French economy had grown 0.3 percent in the third quarter, and predicted it would enter 2010 with its old momentum.

In an interview on French radio, Lagarde said the fact the French economy had posted two successive quarters of positive growth showed it was turning around. She also noted that the labour market had only shed 5,000 jobs in the last quarter, far fewer than at the beginning of the year. Speaking from Singapore, Lagarde predicted Asia would drive the world economic recovery — but she also said it was important to continue government economic stimulus measures through 2010.

Germany’s economy grew 0.7 percent in the third quarter and Italy and the Netherlands also posted an upturn. Lithuania recorded the biggest growth — up 6 percent in the third quarter.

However the economies of both Spain and the United Kingdom shrunk in the same quarter. The UK’s Office for National Statistics initially estimated a fall of 0.4 percent in British output, though this could be revised. Britain had widely been expected to show growth in the third quarter. Eurostat figures also showed that unemployment in Europe overall rose to 9.7 percent in September — the highest in 20 years.

Some economists believe that growth in Europe and the United States may slow or even reverse in 2010, in a so called “double-dip”. Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight warned that the end of some government stimulus such as car scrappage schemes could cause a “loss of momentum”. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the IMF, disagreed, predicting in a statement from Singapore that 2010 would be a global “year of recovery”.



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June 8, 2009

Europeans go to the polls to elect Members of the European Parliament

Europeans go to the polls to elect Members of the European Parliament

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Monday, June 8, 2009

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Over the course of the last four days, people across the European Union went to the polls to elect Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) as part of the European Parliament election, 2009. Voting began on Thursday in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and parts of Ireland. It continued on Friday across the rest of Ireland and parts of the Czech Republic. On Saturday the countries of Cyprus, France (for part of Outre-mer), Italy (day 1), Latvia, Malta, Slovakia and the Czech Republic all voted. On Sunday, the final day of polling, the remaing countries of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy (day 2), Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden voted. Votes were released last night and will continue to be released over the course of today with the exception of Netherlands, which has broken rules and partialy released them on Friday.

The current President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering

The European Parliament is divided into constituencies, which have a group of representatives (the MEPs). Each constituency elects them proportionaly. The amount of MEPs representing a political party depends on the percentage of votes they gain. For example, if 50% of the electorate of a constituency vote for the x party then 50% of the MEPs in that constituency will be from the x party. In total there are 736 MEPs up for election by approximately 500,000,000 Europeans across 27 member states making it the largest transnational election in history.

The elections didn’t quite go to plan across the Netherlands, as the European Commission have asked that Dutch officials give an explanation to results they released. As countries across Europe vote on different days, the results of the election can only be released on the last day (Sunday), so that the results in other countries will not influence the decission made by people in countries that are still voting. Despite this, the Netherlands released some of their results on Friday: 92% of the votes have currently been counted. Further controversy arose from the results themselves. Results so far show that far-right Dutch Member of Parliament, Geert Wilders’s party the Party for Freedom (PVV), appears to have come second behind the Christian Democratic Appeal. Wilders is facing prosecution in the Netherlands for an anti Islamic statement and was refused entry to the United Kingdom on grounds of the intent to incite hatred.

It had initially been foreseen that the Treaty of Lisbon would have entered into force by the time of these elections, making them the first to be held under its provisions. However, primarily because of the failure of the referendum in Ireland, the framework established by the Treaty of Nice will be used again. Amongst other differences, the number of MEPs to be returned depends upon which rules are in effect: while 736 MEPs will be elected under the Nice rules, this number would have increased to 751 if the Lisbon Treaty were in force. A further change that Lisbon would have brought was an increase to the powers of Parliament, including powers over the appointment of the President of the European Commission.

In the previous election, German Hans-Gert Pöttering of the centre-right EPP-ED won with 34% and Martin Schulz of the Socialists came second with 26%. Despite this, during the last term the two leaders shared, each serving approximately two years in office.

European Parliament election, 2004 – Final results at 20 July 2004
Group Description Chaired by MEPs
  EPP-ED Conservatives and Christian Democrats Hans-Gert Pöttering 268 PE2004e.png
  PES Social Democrats Martin Schulz 200
  ALDE Liberals and Liberal Democrats Graham Watson 88
  G–EFA Greens and Regionalists Daniel Cohn-Bendit
Monica Frassoni
42
  EUL–
NGL
Communists and the Far Left Francis Wurtz 41
  ID Eurosceptics Jens-Peter Bonde
Nigel Farage
37
  UEN National Conservatives Brian Crowley
Cristiana Muscardini
27
  NI Independents none 29 Total: 732 Sources: [1][2][3][4][5]

Europeans have also been voting in local elections of County Councils in the United Kingdom and Ireland.



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European Parliament election, 2009

“United Kingdom elects first British National Party members of European Parliament” — Wikinews, June 8, 2009

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May 18, 2009

EU budget chief claims win in Lithuanian presidential elections

EU budget chief claims win in Lithuanian presidential elections

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Monday, May 18, 2009

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Dalia Grybauskaite

Dalia Grybauskaite, the budget commissioner for the European Union, has claimed victory in the Lithuanian presidential elections. She received 68 percent of the vote after 96 percent of the ballots were tallied.

Second place was taken by the Social Democrats’ Algirdas Butkevicius, who took about 12% of the vote.

“I am grateful for the responsibility invested in me,” Grybauskaite said following the first round of voting on Sunday.

Turnout in the elections was reported at slightly more than fifty percent. A candidate must win at least half the vote in order to avoid a run-off election if the turnout is over 50%. With voter turnout at less than 50%, a candidate needs at least 33% support from all persons eligible to cast a ballot.

If the results are confirmed, Ms Grybauskaite would become the first ever female president of Lithuania.

“I congratulate the Lithuanian people for their choice,” she said at her election headquarters. “The taste of victory is the burden of responsibility.”



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May 16, 2009

Nearly three million contraband cigarettes seized by Canadian and U.S. authorities

Nearly three million contraband cigarettes seized by Canadian and U.S. authorities

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

On Friday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) seized 1.75 million contraband cigarettes near the Manitoba – Ontario border and in a separate case the New York City Police Department (NYPD) also had a major recovery of 1.17 million cigarettes.

Cigarettes
Image: Geierunited.

Canadian officers seized 150 cases of illegal, unmarked cigarettes, as well as 25 cases of “discount” brand cigarettes during a traffic safety check conducted during National Road Safety Week on the Trans Canada Highway.

The NYPD pulled over a U-Haul truck for a traffic violation, a covered license plate and recovered 58,500 packs of untaxed contraband cigarettes.

“It’s an ongoing problem as the price of cigarettes go up. Obviously, it increases the motivation to go to other states to buy them and bring them back here. We enforce the law in that regard,” said a NYPD Police Commissioner.

“Discount brands of cigarettes … come from countries such as, not only the United States, but India, Native American tribes, the Philippines, Colombia, Mexico and other countries around the globe,” said a representative from the American State Auditor’s Office.

Bootleggers, nicknamed the $5 man, are the new entrepreneurs when taxed cigarettes sell for over US$10 a pack and nearly $100 a carton in some places in the U.S.

Customers satisfying a nicotine addiction provide a hefty income for illegal tobacco traders. The illicit smuggling of tobacco results in thousands of dollars in lost tax revenue to governments. In Manitoba’s bust, it’s estimated that nearly CA$325,000 (US$275,000)are lost in tax revenue from illegal cigarette sales.

On Wednesday, 90,000 contraband cigarettes were seized from Lithuanian travellers at the Dublin Ireland airport. On Monday, in a separate case, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) seized unmarked cigarettes from a Manitoba man for the second time. This time police recovered 160,000 cigarettes. One week ago smugglers hid 3,000 cases of illegal cigarettes in concrete to try to get them through customs in Singapore.

In April American officials shut down a warehouse containing about US20 million dollars in illegal cigarettes.



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January 17, 2009

Protesters in Lithuania clash with police

Filed under: Cleanup,Disputed,Europe,Lithuania,Politics and conflicts — admin @ 5:00 am

Saturday, January 17, 2009

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Major riots in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius occurred Friday. Thousands of civilians all over the country joined in mass protests and riots against Lithuanian government. Many rioters were young adults, throwing eggs, stones and bottles at police force, shouting “Thieves!” and “Shame!”.

“I am studying here for already three years and I have heard of many unjust political actions and unnecessary laws, which changed student lives. Even excellent education was unavailable for some prestigious students,” complained a student at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University.

“We were chased away from the Parliament, probably because they were frightened that we would complain about the rising taxes,” recalled a journalist. “Last week, we overheard that art culture workers should become tailors or drivers because they cannot execute their jobs correctly. So if this continues, clowns would gather in Seimas and the whole government would be a circus.”

Artūras Zuokas, former mayor of Vilnius and a member of a prominent politician in Lithuania, answered to the riots. “I think a good message for the ruling coalition is that we need to talk more with people about the situation that exists in Lithuania, and not to do some strange and too quick reforms that have been done in the last months. It’s an important part of democracy,” he said.

Police force used tear gas and rubber bullets to calm the crowd. In the end, the force arrested 82 rioters. Reportedly, many of them were drunk. 15 civilians were severely injured, and an estimated damage of the Parliament can reach up to 1 million dollars.

Riots in Latvia and Bulgaria also arose this week, both for political reasons.

Sources

  • Associated Press “Protesters clash with police in Lithuania”. International Herald Tribune, January 16, 2009
  • Evaldas Utyra, Eglė Digrytė, Rasa Lukaitytė “Policija išsklaidė riaušininkus, 82 chuliganai suimti, 15 žmonių sužeista”. Delfi (web portal), January 16, 2009 ((Lithuanian))
  • Nerijus Adomaitis “Lithuanian protesters clash with riot police”. Forbes, January 16, 2009
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December 19, 2008

Vilnius celebrates New Year 2009 and becomes European Capital of Culture

Filed under: Culture and entertainment,Europe,European Union,Lithuania — admin @ 5:00 am

Friday, December 19, 2008

The opening of the national programme “VilniusEuropean Capital of Culture 2009” is expected to be grandiose. Everyone who will come to celebrate year 2009 in Vilnius won’t forget the New Year night for long. The organizers promise a lot of surprises because of two reasons: Vilnius becomes European Capital of Culture and European Lithuania celebrates its name millennium. Events on New Year eve are expected to attract to Vilnius about 50,000 people from Lithuania and other countries. The organisers plan the Opening events of Vilnius – European Capital of Culture in 2009 to start on 31 December and continue until 4 January

Musical @Hoffmann_Spragtukas

The grand programme is planned to start at 23.00 when the audience will be invited to the 45-minute musical @Hoffmann_Spragtukas. The musical is the interpretation of E.T.A._Hoffmann’s fairy tale and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker where the classical work of music will transform into a colourful contemporary musical. This spectacle of dance and music will involve more than 150 music performers, dancers, actors and stuntmen. The musical is “seasoned” with impressive audio and visual effects: multi-levelled stage and a unique blend of lasers, light projections and special and pyrotechnical effects.

Light show by Gert Hof

Around midnight, when the musical @Hoffmann_Spragtukas ends, we’ll see a performance by the world’s most famous artist of light w:Gert Hof, who created a sound and lights show for the special occasion of Lithuania’s two historic dates. Gert Hof is going to present on Cathedral Square his work of modern art without analogues worldwide. For the show there will be employed the world’s most advanced and most powerful light installations including 60 giant high-resolution multi-coloured spotlights, 10 world’s most powerful laser cannons, etc.

The light-maker says that during one part of the grand event the Cathedral will be lit with a gale of light 400 meters in diameter and about 50km in height, which should be visible from not only corners remote from Vilnius, but also… outer space.

Hof’s eight-part light and sound show lasting for about 20 minutes will culminate in synchronically shooting high-rise (about 300m) fireworks in Lithuanian national colours.


Sources

  • “Celebrate the New Year 2009 in Vilnius. Programme of events for 31 December 2008.”. Vilnius – European Capital of Culture 2009, December 19, 2008
  • “Vilnius unveils 2009 cultural programme”. EurActiv.com, December 10, 2008
  • “Lithuania’s special 2009 to be perfused with light”. Culture Live, October 15, 2008
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