Archive | October, 2013

Islamic law, military fuel debate on Egypt charter

31 Oct

FILE – In this Sunday, June 2, 2013 file photo, Egyptian anti-riot police stand guard in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo, Egypt. Under President Mohammed Morsi, his Islamist allies pushed through a constitution that alarmed many Egyptians with its new, stronger provisions for implementing Islamic Shariah law and carving out extensive power for the military. Now after Morsi’s ouster, it is the turn of liberal and secular politicians to amend the charter, but they are balking at reversing those changes, caught up in the country’s stormy politics. (AP Photo/ Amr Nabil, File)

FILE – In this Sunday, June 2, 2013 file photo, Egyptian anti-riot police stand guard in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo, Egypt. Under President Mohammed Morsi, his Islamist allies pushed through a constitution that alarmed many Egyptians with its new, stronger provisions for implementing Islamic Shariah law and carving out extensive power for the military. Now after Morsi’s ouster, it is the turn of liberal and secular politicians to amend the charter, but they are balking at reversing those changes, caught up in the country’s stormy politics. (AP Photo/ Amr Nabil, File)

FILE – In this Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 file photo, a poster showing Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, and former presidents Anwar Sadat, left, and Gamal Abdel-Nasser, right, is taped to an army armored vehicle on a bridge leading to Tahrir Square during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of Egypt’s Oct. 6 crossing of the Suez Canal during the 1973 war with Israel, in Cairo, Egypt. Under President Mohammed Morsi, his Islamist allies pushed through a constitution that alarmed many Egyptians with its new, stronger provisions for implementing Islamic Shariah law and carving out extensive power for the military. Now after Morsi’s ouster, it is the turn of liberal and secular politicians to amend the charter, but they are balking at reversing those changes, caught up in the country’s stormy politics. (AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell, File)

FILE – In this Wednesday, July 3, 2013 file photo made from video, Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, flanked by military and civilian leaders in including reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei, far left, Tamarod leader Mahmoud Badr, second left, Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, third from right, and Pope Tawadros II, second from right, as he addresses the nation on Egyptian State Television. Under President Mohammed Morsi, his Islamist allies pushed through a constitution that alarmed many Egyptians with its new, stronger provisions for implementing Islamic Shariah law and carving out extensive power for the military. Now after Morsi’s ouster, it is the turn of liberal and secular politicians to amend the charter, but they are balking at reversing those changes, caught up in the country’s stormy politics. (AP Photo/Egyptian State Television, File)

FILE – In this file photo taken Thursday, July 4, 2013, Egypt’s chief justice Adly Mansour, center, speaks at his swearing in ceremony as nation’s interim president in Cairo, Egypt. Under President Mohammed Morsi, his Islamist allies pushed through a constitution that alarmed many Egyptians with its new, stronger provisions for implementing Islamic Shariah law and carving out extensive power for the military. Now after Morsi’s ouster, it is the turn of liberal and secular politicians to amend the charter, but they are balking at reversing those changes, caught up in the country’s stormy politics. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

FILE – In this file photo taken Wednesday, July 3, 2013, military special forces stand guard at a street after Egypt’s military chief says the president is replaced by chief justice of constitutional court in Nasser City, Cairo, Egypt. Under President Mohammed Morsi, his Islamist allies pushed through a constitution that alarmed many Egyptians with its new, stronger provisions for implementing Islamic Shariah law and carving out extensive power for the military. Now after Morsi’s ouster, it is the turn of liberal and secular politicians to amend the charter, but they are balking at reversing those changes, caught up in the country’s stormy politics. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra, File)

CAIRO (AP) — During his presidency, Islamist allies of Mohammed Morsi pushed through a constitution that alarmed many Egyptians with its provisions strengthening the role of Islamic law and carving out extensive powers for the military. Now, after Morsi’s ouster, it is the turn of liberal, secular and leftist politicians to amend the charter.

But far from pushing through a radically new vision as many democracy advocates hoped, they are likely to preserve the Islamic law provisions and grant even greater powers to the military.

Egypt’s stormy politics are the reason.

There is only one Islamist politician on the 50-member panel amending the constitution — but his objections have been enough to prevent the secular politicians who dominate the assembly from acting. They fear doing so will drive his ultraconservative al-Nour Party into the streets to join the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists in their continuing protests against Morsi’s July 3 ouster.

At the same time, the military that toppled Morsi is pressuring the assembly to make it virtually independent of — or even above — the elected government. The panel has been sharply divided over an article that would allow the generals, not the president, to choose the defense minister — a sign of the army’s wariness of being under the control of an elected civilian.

Democracy advocates warn the provisions could erase other significant democracy gains that are in the final draft still being shaped.

New articles definitively guarantee freedom of faith, expression, thought and the press, better due process and bans on torture, said Bahey Eldin Hassan, head of the Cairo Institute For Human Rights. On the basis of those articles alone, “this will be the best constitution of all Egypt’s charters,” Hassan said.

But, he said, the controversial articles would “constrain those gains.” For example, Islamists could restrict civil liberties and rights of women and Christians by arguing they contradict Islamic Shariah law— an aim one ultraconservative cleric proudly boasted about when the articles were introduced last year.

Proposed amendments to ban religion-based political parties and lift restrictions on building churches could also run into contradictions with Shariah rules.

And granting an untouchable status to the military could give it political power over the government.

It “will only sow the seed for a military state,” said Hussein Abdel-Razek, a leftist politician in the assembly. “This logic is terrifying because it could simply end up with the army in power.”

Over the past week, panel members began approving a final draft, voting article by article. But they have only taken up uncontroversial portions, leaving contentious articles for last.

Fearing that Morsi supporters will exploit any sign of division, the panel has been working in secrecy. Sessions, which began in September, are being held behind closed doors — a stark contrast to the Islamist-dominated panel that wrote the constitution during Morsi’s year in power, in which sessions were televised.

The draft is to be put to a public referendum in January. Interim authorities are hoping it wins with more than the 63 percent of the vote that the Morsi-era constitution garnered in a 2012 referendum. If the al-Nour Party turns against it, however, that could deeply damage its prospects. Al-Nour is the only Islamist faction that has supported Morsi’s removal and the military-backed transition plan.

The constitution has been at the center of hopes for enshrining a new, more democratic Egypt since the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

After his ouster, Islamists surged to power by winning multiple elections, dominating parliament and capturing the presidency in 2012. Parliament formed an Islamist-majority panel to write a new constitution — and it was quickly mired in controversy. Over time, all the non-Islamist members quit, accusing Islamists of ramming through their agenda.

With the courts about to dissolve the assembly, Morsi issued decrees last November granting himself and the assembly sweeping immunity from judicial review. That allowed Islamists to finish writing the document and get it to a public referendum.

But the decrees prompted the first large protests against Morsi, and fueled the growing public perception that Islamists were trying to impose their vision on the country. The anti-Islamist backlash culminated in massive protests by millions that triggered the coup.

Now out in the cold, the Brotherhood and its allies have been crippled by a heavy security crackdown. Egypt’s liberal and secular elite are in the rare position of being in the drivers’ seat.

Secular members of the assembly have bristled with frustration over compromises forced by the sole Islamist politician.

“This is the golden opportunity” for dramatic changes, said Abdel-Razek, the leftist assembly member. But delegates fear Islamists will campaign against the charter as “anti-Islam” and want al-Nour’s support to bolster its credentials.

“The campaign by the Muslim Brotherhood already started,” Abdel-Razek told The Associated Press. “And the worry is al-Nour will join them if it fails to impose its vision.”

Two key articles are at issue.

Article 2, first introduced in 1971 by then-President Anwar Sadat, states that Islam is the religion of the state and “the principles of Shariah are the main basis for legislation.” That article has effectively become untouchable, seen by many as a reflection of the country’s Muslim identity.

Abdel-Razek said he tried to propose changes, but the assembly wouldn’t consider them. “It was like I was talking to myself,” he said.

The vagueness of the word “principles” in Article 2 long allowed authorities to avoid implementing a strict version of Islamic law sought by Islamists. So Morsi’s allies introduced Article 219, which gives a firmer definition and would allow Islamists to insist on specific Shariah tenets restricting behavior seen as un-Islamic.

A majority of assembly members now want to remove the article — but they are tangled in efforts to appease al-Nour.

Salah Abdel-Maboud, an al-Nour alternate delegate, said the party is willing to remove it only if some of its language is put in place elsewhere. “We are extremely flexible,” he said, but added a warning: “If Shariah-linked articles are touched, all options are on the table.”

The debate over the military articles is more complicated.

The proposal giving the military the right to name its own leader has support among a significant sector of the assembly. The article would give the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces the power to name the defense minister, who serves as the military’s chief. While the president could remove him, the armed forces council would appoint the replacement.

Assembly member Amr al-Shobaki said the military fears political factions would plot to take over the armed forces by installing generals with their ideology. He said the military’s delegate on the panel told him, “What would you do if the army was infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood?”

The assembly is leaning toward a compromise that would allow the military to name the defense minister for one or two presidential terms, al-Shobaki said, speaking on a private TV station.

Another furious debate concerns a 2012 article allowing military trials for civilians for crimes of “harming” the armed forces. The article brought an outcry from rights activists as thousands have been tried by military tribunals, known for swift and harsh verdicts for which there is no appeal.

Some delegates have proposed allowing military trials only in cases where military personnel or facilities are directly attacked.

But others want it out completely. Mossad Aboul-Fagr, an activist on the panel, said he would quit the assembly otherwise.

“It will not pass, and we will not let civilians fall under the mercy of any general,” he said.

Associated PressSource: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/cae69a7523db45408eeb2b3a98c0c9c5/Article_2013-10-30-Egypt-Constitution%20Debate/id-4dfd6b502a384f389e4bfb3d44ec56aa
Similar Articles: Alexian Lien   Robinson Cano   Obama Syria  

Google Is Finally Making Hangouts as Good as It Should Be

30 Oct

Google Is Finally Making Hangouts as Good as It Should Be

Today, Google held a little event about updates to Google+ which, OK maybe that’s not the most exciting thing. But buried deep in there were some updates to the Hangouts app that are finally helping it follow through on its promise: an iMessage competitor you can put on anything.

Read more…

    



Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/HpRrN6fg0u8/google-is-finally-making-hangouts-as-good-as-it-should-1454157302
Category: raiders   james spader   nadal   lsu football   kim zolciak  

Amazon Cloud Player app comes to Mac

29 Oct

It may have taken a while, but Amazon has finally delivered on its promise to bring a Cloud Player app for the Mac faithful. Ever since the offline music management suite debuted for the PC in May, the small cross section of Amazon MP3 hoarders and OS X users have been impatiently waiting for Bezos …

Source: http://feeds.engadget.com/~r/weblogsinc/engadget/~3/nWfnunNt2fo/
Category: pauly d   Austin Mahone   scarlett johansson   Cassidy Wolf   Apple.com  

Storm with hurricane-force winds kills 13 in Europe

29 Oct

LONDON (AP) — A savage coastal storm powered by hurricane-force gusts slashed its way through Britain and western Europe on Monday, felling trees, flooding lowlands and snarling traffic in the air, at sea and on land. At least 13 people were reported killed.

It was one of the worst storms to hit the region in years. The deadly tempest had no formal name — and wasn’t officially classified as a hurricane due to a meteorological standard — but it was dubbed the St. Jude storm (after the patron saint of lost causes) and stormageddon on social networks.

Gusts of 99 miles per hour (160 kph) were reported on the Isle of Wight in southern England, while gusts up to 80 mph hit the British mainland. Later in the day, the Danish capital of Copenhagen saw record gusts up of to 120 mph (194 kph) and an autobahn in central Germany was shut down by gusts up to 62 mph (100 kph).

All across the region, people were warned to stay indoors. Hundreds of trees were uprooted or split, blocking roads and crushing cars. The Dutch were told to leave their beloved bicycles at home for safety’s sake.

At least thirteen storm-related deaths were reported, most victims crushed by falling trees. Germany had six deaths, Britain had five and the Netherlands and Denmark had one each. One woman was also missing after being swept into the surf in France.

Two people were killed in London by a gas explosion and a British teen who played in the storm-driven surf was swept out to sea. A man in Denmark was killed when a brick flew off and hit him in the head.

Despite the strength of its gusts, the storm was not considered a hurricane because it didn’t form over warm expanses of open ocean like the hurricanes that batter the Caribbean and the United States. Britain’s national weather service, the Met Office, said Britain does not get hurricanes because those are “warm latitude” storms that draw their energy from seas far warmer than the North Atlantic. Monday’s storm also did not have an “eye” at its center like most hurricanes.

London’s Heathrow Airport, Europe’s busiest, cancelled at least 130 flights and giant waves prompted the major English port of Dover to close, cutting off ferry services to France.

Nearly 1,100 passengers had to ride out the storm on a heaving ferry from Newcastle in Britain to the Dutch port of Ijmuiden after strong winds and heavy seas blocked it from docking in the morning. The ship returned to the North Sea to wait for the wind to die down rather than risk being smashed against the harbor’s walls, Teun-Wim Leene of DFDS Seaways told national broadcaster NOS.

In central London, a huge building crane near the prime minister’s office crumpled in the gusts. The city’s overburdened transit system faced major delays and cancellations and did not recover even once the weather swept to the east.

A nuclear power station in Kent, southern England, automatically shut its two reactors after storm debris reduced its incoming power supply. Officials at the Dungeness B plant said the reactors had shut down safely and would be brought back once power was restored.

The storm left Britain in the early afternoon and roared across the English Channel, leaving up to 270,000 U.K. homes without power.

Trains were canceled in southern Sweden and Denmark. Winds blew off roofs, with debris reportedly breaking the legs of one man. Near the Danish capital of Copenhagen, the storm ripped down the scaffolding from a five-story apartment building.

Copenhagen’s Kastrup Airport saw delays as strong gusts prevented passengers from using boarding bridges to disembark from planes to the terminals.

In Germany, the death toll hit six, with four people killed in three separate accidents Monday involving trees falling on cars, the dpa news agency reported. A sailor near Cologne was killed Sunday when his boat capsized and a fisherman drowned northeast of the city.

In addition to widespread rail disruptions, both Duesseldorf and Hamburg airports saw many flights cancelled, stranding more than 1,000 passengers.

Thousands of homes in northwestern France also lost electricity, while in the Netherlands several rail lines shut down and airports faced delays. Amsterdam’s central railway station was closed due to storm damage.

In France, maritime officials were searching for a woman who was swept into the turbulent Atlantic by a big wave Monday as she walked on Belle Isle, a small island off the coast of Brittany.

“We are focused on the search,” Yann Bouvart, of the Atlantic Maritime Prefecture told BFM-TV. He said a helicopter, a boat and an inflatable Zodiac were looking for the woman.

Amsterdam was one of the hardest-hit cities as the storm surged up the Dutch coast. Powerful wind gusts toppled trees into canals in the capital’s historic center and sent branches tumbling onto rail and tram lines, halting almost all public transport. Commuters faced long struggles to get home.

Ferries in the Baltic Sea, including between Denmark and Sweden, were canceled after the Swedish Meteorological Institute upgraded its storm warning to the highest possible level, class 3, which indicates “very extreme weather that could pose great danger.”

Trains were canceled in southern Sweden, and many bridges were closed between the islands in Denmark.

London Mayor Boris Johnson praised emergency workers for doing an “amazing job” trying to keep London moving. He said his thoughts, along with those of all Londoners, were with the victims and their loved ones.

___

Cassandra Vinograd in London, Sarah DiLorenzo and Elaine Ganley in Paris, Malin Rising in Stockholm, Matti Huuhtanen in Helsinki and Mike Corder in The Hague contributed to this report.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/hurricane-force-gusts-batter-uk-europe-13-dead-184744739.html
Similar Articles: ny giants   goog   national coffee day   zac efron   george strait  

Georgia PM ally revels in big win at presidential poll

28 Oct

Tbilisi (AFP) – An ally of billionaire Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili on Monday basked in an overwhelming win at presidential polls in the ex-Soviet state to replace larger-than-life moderniser Mikheil Saakashvili after a decade in power.

Giorgi Margvelashvili, a politically inexperienced academic from Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition, was cantering to victory with some 62 percent of the vote at the election Sunday after ballots from over 70 percent of polling stations had been tallied, the election commission said.

His nearest challenger, ex-parliament speaker David Bakradze from Saakashvili’s United National Movement party, trailed behind on just under 22 percent, official results showed.

Margvelashvili had already hailed victory before cheering supporters at a rally in the capital Tbilisi Sunday after exit polls indicated he was cruising the presidency.

“I thank you all so much. It is our shared victory,” Margvelashvili said as balloons were released to chants from the crowd.

Savouring the win, Georgia’s richest man Ivanishvili said at the rally that his coalition would aim to work with its opponents.

“All together we will build a Georgia which we dream about,” Ivanishvili said. “I congratulate you all.”

Fireworks exploded over the capital after polls closed in the Caucasus republic of some 4.5 million, as convoys of Margvelashvili supporters beeped car horns and waved flags.

Runner-up Bakradze was quick to admit he had lost.

“I congratulate Giorgi Margvelashvili on his electoral win and the trust expressed in him by the Georgian people,” Bakradze said in televised comments.

He said the vote confirmed Saakashvili’s UNM party as the main opposition in the country, with partial results giving combative ex-parliament chairwoman Nino Burjanadze just over 10 percent in third place.

Sunday’s vote calls time on US ally Saakashvili’s decade in power and his bitter year-long cohabitation with bete noire Ivanishvili, who has promised to also step down in the coming weeks.

In a televised address, Saakashvili urged his supporters to respect the outcome of the poll even though he called it a “serious deviation” from Georgia’s path towards development.

“The Georgian voters have expressed their will. I want to tell those who are not happy with the results: we must respect the majority’s opinion,” Saakashvili said, standing on a podium lined with Georgian flags.

If confirmed, Margvelashvili will assume a weakened role as constitutional changes will see the next president cede many key powers to the prime minister.

The lower stakes meant that voting was at a trickle throughout Sunday and the final turnout was just 46.6 percent, according to the election commission.

Commission chairwoman Tamar Zhvania said in a statement early Monday that there were no major violations and that the poll saw “voters freely expressed their will”.

Ivanishvili, 57, wrested power from Saakashvili’s party at parliamentary polls last year, heralding Georgia’s first smooth handover of power.

Supporters said Margvelashvili, a knitting-loving former philosophy lecturer who owes his meteoric rise to Ivanishvili, represented the polar opposite of Saakashvili.

“We don’t need another emotional and headstrong president,” Serge Tsutskiridze, a univerity professor, said after voting.

‘Open and transparent vote’

US ambassador to Georgia Richard Norland said the vote seemed to be going smoothly as he toured polling stations Sunday.

“What’s important is that this vote proceeds today in a way that’s peaceful, fair, open and transparent and, so far, things seem to be moving in that direction.”

Transparency International said however the number of procedural violations was up on last year’s vote.

Georgia under Saakashvili made joining NATO and the European Union a main priority, and Margvelashvili has pledged to press on with that drive.

He has also promised to try to mend ties with Moscow shattered by a brief 2008 war that saw Georgia effectively lose two breakaway regions.

Western allies have expressed concern over perceived selective justice that has seen a string of Saakashvili’s close allies arrested since his party lost power.

Saakashvili has said he wants to remain active in politics but Ivanishvili, whose coalition will retain control of the government, has labelled him a “political corpse” and warned that he could face prosecution.

During a turbulent decade, Saakashvili — who came to power after ousting Eduard Shevardnadze in the 2003 “Rose Revolution” — cut corruption, built new infrastructure and revived Georgia’s economy.

But his reforms angered many who felt left out by the rush to change, while police brutality used in crushing opposition protests tarnished his image as a pioneering democrat.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/georgia-set-elect-president-watershed-poll-021712281.html
Similar Articles: Jimmy Graham   syria   brian wilson  

Why Obama’s Spin May Just Make Things Worse

27 Oct

An IT problem has never escalated faster than the president’s Rose Garden speech Monday addressing the problems with Healthcare.gov. He could no longer outsource responding to user complaints. At first, the White House had said the headaches signing people up for health care coverage were just technical glitches, but now the sheer number of those glitches defies that explanation. Reporting about deeper systemic problems suggest that fixes will not come quickly. As my colleague Matthew Yglesias explains, adding more bodies to the problem adds more complexity, which may exacerbate the problem. It’s hard to untangle Christmas lights by committee.  

Source: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/2013/10/22/why_obama039s_spin_may_just_make_things_worse_318357.html
Category: pauly d   Jeff Soffer   Malcom Floyd  

‘Little Maria’ Just One Of The Many Missing Kids In Europe

26 Oct

A woman holds up a picture of a 5-year-old girl who disappeared in May in Clermont-Ferrand, in central France. As estimated 250,00 kids go missing each year in Europe, according to the European Union. Many are runaways that are later found, though there are also cases involving small children who are abducted.

Thierry Zoccolan/AFP/Getty Images

A woman holds up a picture of a 5-year-old girl who disappeared in May in Clermont-Ferrand, in central France. As estimated 250,00 kids go missing each year in Europe, according to the European Union. Many are runaways that are later found, though there are also cases involving small children who are abducted.

Thierry Zoccolan/AFP/Getty Images

For the last week, a blond girl named Maria became the poster child for missing children in Europe. Police discovered her in northern Greece, as they raided a Roma camp in search of drugs and guns.

She was hiding under a dirty blanket, they said, and suggested the Roma couple caring for her had snatched her from a northern or eastern European family.

One Greek newspaper called her the Blonde Angel. Who would claim her?

Thousands of calls from around the world poured into Smile of the Child, the private Greek charity where Maria is now staying.

“Here was a missing child looking for her parents, instead of the other way around,” says Delphine Moralis, secretary-general at Missing Children Europe in Brussels. “Parents who have a child that is missing really see this is a message of hope for finding their own child again.”

Indeed, on Thursday, Portuguese police re-opened the case of Madeleine McCann, the 3-year-old British girl who disappeared in May 2007 from Praia de Luz in the Algarve, where her family was on vacation.

Huge Numbers Of Missing Children

At least 250,000 children go missing in Europe every year, according to the European Commission. Up to 60 percent of those children are teenage runaways who flee abuse or conflict at home — and are usually found. Parental abductions also account for some of the missing children.

The girl known as Maria was discovered last week in Greece during a police raid on a Roma settlement. Bulgarian authorities said Friday that DNA tests have confirmed that a 35-year-old Roma woman is the mother of a girl.

Uncredited/AP

The girl known as Maria was discovered last week in Greece during a police raid on a Roma settlement. Bulgarian authorities said Friday that DNA tests have confirmed that a 35-year-old Roma woman is the mother of a girl.

Uncredited/AP

Criminal abductions by a stranger account for between 2 and 5 percent of cases reported through the Missing Children Europe’s 116 000 hotline, which operates in at least 19 countries.

“Criminal abductions are usually the ones that get the most media attention,” Moralis says. “But the scope of the problem is much bigger, and it’s underestimated and badly understood.”

For instance, up to 10 percent of missing children are migrants from impoverished or war-ravaged countries who have crossed into Europe without a parent or guardian.

“Until the Syrian refugee crisis exploded, the most common refugee I encountered in Europe was a 15 or 16-year-old Afghan boy,” says Nils Muižnieks, a Latvian political scientist who serves as Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. “I’ve met them in Greek parks, in Austrian reception centers. They’re often traumatized and vulnerable and fall victim to exploitation.”

In Greece, many teenage migrants face brutality and repeated detention by police and state authorities, so few actually apply for asylum, according to Human Rights Watch. And there’s a huge shortage of adequate places to house them, including group homes. Because of rising anti-immigrant sentiment, there’s also little will to house foreign children with Greek children in care centers.

“Many of these children disappear,” say Moralis, of Missing Children Europe. “They end up being exploited in different kinds of ways: sexual exploitation, prostitution, economic exploitation in terms of forced begging, drug smuggling and forced marriage … even forced donation of organs.”

Roma Children Are Vulnerable

Impoverished children — including the Roma — are often the most vulnerable, says Muižnieks, the human rights commissioner. He says he was disgusted by the way media, as well as the Greek authorities, framed the story of Maria as a “child stolen by Gypsies.”

“The Roma face the most discrimination of any ethnic group in Europe,” he says.

And that discrimination often means that Roma children are isolated and even ignored, says Maria Kratz-Larsen, who runs The Children’s Ark, a Roma education program near Corinth, Greece. “Sometimes they are simply invisible,” she says.

Indeed, between 1998 and 2002, an astonishing 502 of 661 Albanian Roma children “disappeared” from a Greek state-run institution in Aghia Varvara, Athens. A 2004 report by the Greek Ombudsman suggests that the children may have been handed over to human traffickers. This summer, Maria Yiannakaki, a parliamentary deputy from the Democratic Left, asked for an investigation into the children’s fate.

Meanwhile, the fate of Maria is still up in the air, even if she has now found her biological parents.

Tests Confirm Parents Of Maria

DNA tests confirmed Friday that she’s the child of Sasha Ruseva and Atanas Rusev, a Bulgarian Roma couple who worked as farmhands picking olives in Greece a few years ago.

Ruseva gave birth to a girl during that time but was too poor to take care of the baby and left her in the care of another Roma couple, she told the Bulgarian media.

“We gave her, we gifted her, without money,” Sasha Ruseva told Bulgaria’s TV7 on Thursday. “I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have any food to give to the kid.”

For now, Maria remains in the care of the Greek charity, Smile of the Child, which calls her case a “humanitarian issue.”

Meanwhile, the Greek Roma couple who had been raising her now want to formally adopt her, even though Greek authorities have charged them with abduction.

“They truly and ardently want her back,” their lawyer, Costas Katsavos, told The Associated Press.

Moralis hopes the interest in Maria will force the European Union to improve its policies on all missing children, especially those escaping poverty and wars.

“There is so much more that needs to be done,” she says. “And there are so many other children who will never make it to the news.”

Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/10/26/240803462/little-maria-just-one-of-the-many-missing-kids-in-europe?ft=1&f=1001
Similar Articles: ohio state football   jennette mccurdy   detroit lions   anthony weiner   Espn College Football