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Russia: Scorched Earth

series: European Journal

air date: 2/11/14 5:00 AM

Switzerland: Initiative against immigration - Switzerland is about to hold a vote on immigration caps. If quotas for immigrants are set, this would also affect many EU residents and could threaten existing agreements with the European Union. The initiative was started by the Swiss People's Party. The far-right, populist party wants to limit immigration to people who meet their preferred social, professional and financial criteria. Although Germans are not the sole target of this campaign, they are often cited as a negative example. In Zurich, signs of antipathy toward Germans are not uncommon. Only a minority supports the initiative, but there are many undecided voters. Britain: The Controversy over "Benefits Street" - In Britain, a television show called "Benefits Street" has caused a furor. The show focuses on James Turner Street in Birmingham, depicting its residents as "welfare scroungers". Many say that is unfair and the show is unbalanced. Channel 4, which made the show, says it aims to show what life is like for people at the bottom of the social ladder. Critics say it deliberately set out to show the poor in the worst possible light. The residents of James Turner Street feel betrayed, saying the film team had claimed they were making a serious documentary. The show has added fuel to the ongoing debate about social welfare and immigration in Britain. Russia: Scorched Earth - The Winter Olympic Games are about to kick off in Sochi. But 150 years ago the slopes where the athletes are to compete was the site of a brutal war of conquest, when Russian troops drove the hundreds of thousands of Circassians from their homeland. Members of the Circassian community say that the athletes will be skiing on mass graves. The Circassians who still live in Russia are hoping to use the games to attract attention to the fate of their ancestors. But most Circassians live abroad. Belgium: A boon for families - The birth rate in Germany is low, but in neighboring Belgium it's booming. According to a study by the Max Planck Institute, the Belgian side of the German-Belgian border region has a large number of families with many children. But just across the border, the birth rate is stagnating, even though the German side shares many cultural features and enjoys a similar standard of living. The difference is that Belgium set up an affordable, full-time daycare system three decades ago. Many young German families wish they had the same access to daycare, but the public support available to childcare in Germany lags far behind that of its neighbor.

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