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Eastern Europe Under Water

series: European Journal

air date: 6/18/13 5:00 AM

Czech Republic: Flood Prevention - Torrential rain has left parts of Central Europe underwater, with the Danube and Elbe rivers and their tributaries rising to record levels. Entire communities in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic have been flooded. In the Czech Republic, the havoc wreaked by the floods of 2002 had barely been dealt with when fresh floods hit. Tens of thousands of people have had to flee their homes, in many cases being housed in emergency accommodation. The Czech government has now invested several millions euros in retention basins and reservoirs to prevent further flooding. The dams are being kept topped up in order to ensure traffic can still ply the rivers. Greece: Administrative Reform - The dozens of official agencies and government-subsidized bodies running public affairs in Greece have for decades been a burden on the state budget as well as having a reputation for cronyism. Many of them have now been shut down - officially, at least. Top of the list are youth welfare organizations, with many having been declared pointless and others being merged. One such organization is the national center for gold and silversmithing. Staffthere have been sent home without pay. The government designates them as necessary public sector layoffs - but as former employees take their case to court, it remains unclear whether such agencies have actually been closed at all. Germany: The Benevolent Braunschweiger - It's the stuff of fairytales: a generous soul benefiting others. This true story from Braunschweig is about a philanthropist who has been giving away money to the needy. The mystery man has so far handed out around €200,000 - to child daycare facilities, road safety centers and homeless shelters. He has also singled out individuals, such as an elderly lady who was attacked and a man who risked his own safety coming to the help of others. The donor has always remained anonymous. Locals are not sure whether this is someone who has inherited considerable wealth or somebody wishing to assuage a guilty conscience. The beneficiaries are not too concerned with the person's identity. They are grateful for the gifts, regardless of whether the source is anonymous or known to them. Spain: The Threat to Tuna - Illegal fishing and soaring demand in Japan are threatening stocks of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean. Japandominates the international tuna market, and Spanish trawlers plying the Mediterranean supply many Japanese customers with legal catches. The Mitsubishi conglomerate, for example, controls a large percentage of the global market in bluefin tuna. Environmental activists, however, are concerned about industrial trawlers whose catch is likewise bought by Japanese customers and which use huge nets and state-of-the-art satellite technology to locate schools of tuna.

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