Trainspotters have reason to rejoice!

It seems some in the Nanny State ™ have actually found a way to balance security and freedom!

“Speaking to BJP, Ken Gibbs of Virgin Trains’ press office says that the poster campaign – Keep Us in the Picture – has been designed to welcome photography enthusiasts while reminding them of the company’s basic rules. It was first launched in October 2009.

“The poster reads: ‘Virgin Trains welcomes rail enthusiasts and passengers who wish to take still or video images at our stations. We ask that you do not interfere with the flow of passengers and respect the wishes of both passengers and staff not to be photographed.’

We know it sounds a bit amazing but it’s true…

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Personal Impact

The laws which have made legal immigration to the European Union from regions like Africa are having a dramatic impact on real people.

“In his eight-year struggle to find a home in Europe, Nigerian migrant Kingsley Okojie, 35, describes crossing oceans and deserts, escaping prisons and border guards and watching dozens of friends perish along the way.”

Immigration isn’t just some abstract idea and immigrants aren’t simply the “other.” Every day real people, mothers, fathers and children are risking their lives to achieve the better life that most of us take for granted. When thinking about regulations it is important to also consider the real world impact these laws have on people, not just the propaganda that supporters or opponents put into the ether…

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All for Laughs

Are we safe now?

“A dressed-up pair of British TV presenters filming a segment for a children’s show say they were stopped by police and questioned under anti-terror law.”

The Nanny State™ is always good for a laugh, isn’t it?

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Safe, but for how long?

Has the crisis been averted?



“At a summit of EU leaders in Brussels which looks like being overwhelmed by the implications of Greece’s debt and deficit emergency, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy, said senior EU sources, should deliver a joint Franco-German signal that they stand ready to come to Athens’ rescue if need be.”

This is perhaps the first major test of the Euro since its adoption in 2002. This very scenario, in which a poor member nation threatens to default on its debts, is one that Euro-skeptics warned of so many years ago. But it seems like the big brothers of the Euro zone, Germany and France, have agreed to step in, as they should. If the Euro is to mean anything then the wealthy nations must be prepared to step in to avoid a larger contagion. At the same time all the members of the Euro zone must play by the rules they agreed to in the first place and curb their deficits going into the future. If this happens again there is doubt that the leaders of the larger Euro nations will be so willing to come to the rescue.

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Last Call?

Who knew that the ordinary pint glass was such a dangerous weapon?

Nearly 87,000 injuries are caused by glass attacks each year in England and Wales, according to the Home Office. Many more are hurt as a result of accidents.

“The worrying figures have prompted a redesign of the classic pint glass, with police, facial surgeons, pubs and brewers all voicing concern about the high number of glassings.”

We are all for safety measures here at the European Debate but our question is what are the underlying issues resulting in the simple pint glass being turned into a weapon? Will this change stop the problem or will drunken brawlers turn to another innocent tool to inflict mayhem? Time will tell….

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Fighting for Their Rights!

I’ve heard of student demonstrations but the Swedes are in a class of their own!

“Several dozen university students occupied a brewery near Gothenburg in western Sweden on Tuesday in their long-standing effort to convince the brewery to build a pipeline to carry beer to the students’ union.

“Hopefully we’ll get a pipeline relatively soon,” student union chair Alexander Westerling told the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper ahead of his negotiations with the brewery.”

Do they offer scholarships?

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Managing Waistlines

Too much or not enough? Can Europe’s governments regulate your waistline?

“Can governments really legislate a svelte population? A number of governments in Europe, concerned about the growing waistlines of their citizens, seem to think so.

“The Spanish government wants to ban excessive trans fats, Denmark will soon be taxing sweets and in Romania, Health Minister Attila Cseke has said he would like to see a tax on unhealthy food.”

Some would say this is a perfect example of the Nanny State™ and to some degree they would probably be correct. But in reality obesity is a major killer and the cost to the public, through medical costs, is substantial. So encouraging healthy eating is probably a good idea though there is only so far any government can go…

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Not in My Backyard

Staying in France today we hear from that country’s president on the subject of the veil.

Nicolas Sarkozy last night threw his weight behind moves to ban the full Islamic veil in France, calling for an “unambiguous” parliamentary resolution against an item of clothing he said was “not welcome” in a country which valued sexual equality.”

Apparently only about 2,000 women in the whole country wear the full veil so does the president protest too much? We think so. While we are in full support of women’s rights and equality aren’t there better ways to promote the issue, especially among the group that is being targeted? Sadly we think this is just another excuse to appease those on the right wing who favor a France that is less diverse…

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What to Wear

And now we turn to the world of music, and France.

“Since her 2007 album Dans ma Bulle (Inside My Bubble) debuted at the top of the charts by selling 50K copies in its first week, Diam’s has become the hottest emcee in France. Not the hottest female emcee, but the hottest emcee in general. Diam’s is known as a feminist rebel who spits rhymes about war, racism, poverty, and injustice–something that has placed the rapper in the line of French media fire. Unable to handle the constant public scrutiny she faced as a controversial celebrity, Diam’s retreated from the limelight in 2008 to go on a personal introspective journey. That journey led her to Islam, a faith to which she has now converted saying, “Modern medicine was not able to heal my soul, so I turned to religion.”

“Given France’s current hostility to observant Muslims (particularly Muslim women), it probably should come as no surprise that French feminists have been quite vocally intolerant of Diam’s decision. Safia Labdi, president of Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissives), told Le Parisien, “With this new image, Diam’s represents submission, tradition and isolation. She was lost, and found herself by wearing the veil. This is something that we unfortunately see with a lot of young girls.”

Isn’t it amazing how much of a lightning rod the headscarf is in Europe, especially in France? You would think the artist was advocating that everyone needs to dress as she does. In reality the headscarf, like minarets in Switzerland, is nothing but a strawman that advocates of intolerance can use to rationalize their prejudices. In a free society like France it should be up to each young woman to decide how she presents herself. Some, for religious or cultural reasons, choose the headscarf, others do not. Trying to force people to assimilate usually has the exact opposite effect. Being French can also mean wearing the headscarf and it is up to the French to learn this lesson.

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Faces of Fear

A little scary don’t you think?

“Huge images of a city’s most wanted criminals are to be beamed on to buildings as part of a groundbreaking crime-busting initiative”

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