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Overcrowding Forces A Massive Pardon In The Czech

series: European Journal

air date: 1/22/13 5:00 AM

France/Germany: Alsace - The Alsace region is defined by two of Europe's dominant cultures - the French and the Germans. But the ability to speak German is no longer taken for granted among the people of the region. Young people, especially those from big cities, only speak French. The once typical bilingualism in Alsace is a thing of the past. Since the early 1990s, thousands of jobs were lost in neighboring Germany and Switzerland, as well as in Alsace itself - especially jobs that required both languages. It's also a result of official French policy that once set the goal of driving the German language from the region. Croatia: the monk island - Franciscan monks are the only inhabitants of the tiny Croatian island of Kosljun. They no longer see saving souls as their main task - instead they tend to their monastery and its gardens. St. Bernard of Siena wanted to renew the church in Europe in the spirit of Francis of Assisi and he relocated monks from city centers to the outskirts. The move was meant to strengthen the souls of the monks, who would then spread the values they had acquired in the peace of the monastery. But these days the Franciscan monks of Kosljun have abandoned their missionary zeal. Czech Republic: controversial pardon - More than 7,000 prisoners in the Czech Republic are set for an early release thanks to a controversial pardon signed by outgoing president Vaclav Klaus shortly before the end of his term. Tens of thousands have protested the move. Nearly every third prisoner is expected to walk free, including inmates with less then a year to serve of their sentence and those over 70 years old. The overflowing prisons are likely to benefit most from the pardon. But many Czechs are outraged that so many criminals are escaping punishment for their misdeeds. Italy: rock against the mafia - "A67" sounds like the name of a German Autobahn - but it's currently Naples toughest weapon again the camorra. The young musicians of A67 are using their music to protest the mafia. They live in the city's Scampia neighborhood, considered one of the biggest open-air markets for illegal drugs in Europe. Half of the area's youth population is unemployed. Hardly anyone misses the politicians, who let the mafia take over in the 1970s. But that also created a sense of unity among the people of the neighborhood. Now the musicians hope that togetherness will help them in their risky protest.

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