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tv   Focus on Europe  PBS  November 29, 2014 6:00pm-6:31pm PST

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♪ >> hello and welcome to "focus on europe." bringing you the personal stories behind the headlines. i'm damien mcguinness. great you could join us. on the show today -- on the dutch-german border -- farmers on a wild goose chase. albania's rubbish tips -- workplace and home for the poor. and the italian island where people feel more alpine than mediterranean. but first back here to germany, where people have just celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall. the fall of the wall in 1989 set off a chain of events throughout
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central and eastern europe that led to the collapse of communism throughout the whole region. including later that year in what was then called czechoslovakia. for more than 40 years the czech and slovakian people had lived under a pro-soviet regime that viewed religion as a subversive force. and the authorities went to extreme lengths to undermine the christian church in particular -- including deporting roman catholic nuns to one of the most isolated parts of the country -- to what cynically became known as a "concentration cloister." >> the authorities thought they could break their faith here. bila voda is a place few czechs know about. the communist regime deported nuns from convents all over the country to this village, with the aim of grinding their faith into oblivion. >> many were already very old when they came.
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they rounded them up here in bila voda from all corners. it looked like a detention camp. they had to do heavy work in their nun's habits. they mixed mortar, put up buildings, everything. it was horrible. what can i say? >> sister jirina is one of the last nuns who can still remember bila voda. as a young woman, she was one of the first to be held here. she says it was like a prison. >> we had to share a room with 14 other nuns. the biggest problem was water. we didn't have pots, spoons, buckets -- nothing. each nun had only the most basic necessities, nothing else. we had to sip the soup they gave us out of a glass we used to brush our teeth -- and fish the bits of potatoes out of it with a toothbrush. when you think of it today, it's funny.
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but we managed. >> the sisters simply adapted to the difficult conditions. thousands of women were interned at bila voda. but the communists were unable to shake the women's faith. on the contrary, says sister jirina, their religious conviction was strengthened. >> the church and the liturgy were central to our lives. the atmosphere around all of us became rather joyful. we supported each other as best we could under the circumstances. >> czech communists and some people in bila voda would like to forget the whole story. but mayor miroslav kocian spoke to the few nuns who are still alive and opened a museum in the village. bila voda was an internment camp after world war ii, with one aim
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only -- isolating women of faith. >> bila voda is located on the very last bit of land on the border with poland. back then, the borders were hermetically sealed. it may as well have been the end of the world. above all, the communists feared the nuns' spirituality and faith. and the nuns were really solid in their beliefs, often more so than men, than the priests and monks. that's often true of women, that they're much stronger in their convictions. and the communists wanted to sideline them for that. >> hundreds of nuns spent almost five decades in living in bila voda. tomas was a staunch communist, but he had his children christened. the nuns were good nannies, and even a communist wasn't about to do without this luxury. >> having the kids baptized was
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pushing it, really pushing it. i was in the party, and of course, i had enormous problems. but that's the way it was then. >> the museum ensures the nuns' story will be remembered. the mayor wants to document especially painful experiences of those times -- including the internment camp that had no fence or guard dogs. >> when we began asking the nuns, we realized many could no longer recall those difficult days. some said it was nice here and how good it was to live in a great christian community. there's a reason why they caled bila voda "heaven's waiting room" back then.
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>> after czechoslovakia's velvet revolution, the nuns who had survived internment went back to their convents. the communists wanted to destroy christianity in czechoslovakia. but by putting the nuns in bila voda, they gave them a place to pray together and live out their faith. as sister jirina says, "faith won out in bila voda." >> a moving story. across northern europe one of the common sights at certain times of the year is migrating geese. but over the last few decades millions of geese have started staying put, particularly in the netherlands. many say man-made global warming could be changing migration patterns. whatever the reason, one thing is clear -- the huge numbers of geese are causing problems for local l farmers along the border of germany and holland, and some are now literally taking up arm. >> these hunters have been up since dawn, looking for waterfowl. geese have been added to the
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game they're permitted to shoot. >> let's go in here and wait and see what happens. >> in the province of gelderland in the netherlands, hunters are being used to combat with what's being called the "geese plague." the birds have done well feeding off farmers' meadows. in just a year, their numbers have increased by 100,000. >> oh, they're way up, up there, and it's too high. >> wild geese may only be shot in flight and endangered species of geese are off limits. >> oh, they're way up! should i try? no, they're much too far away. >> after a four-hour wait, the hunters give up. records indicate that 35,000 geese have been shot in the province of gelderland alone, but that didn't even dent the goose population.
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>> if and when we shoot a few, the geese get scared and go someplace else. and if 300 of them all scatter, and there are 300 here and 300 there and 60 someplace else. >> for instance germany. the district of kleve on the lower rhine is right on the german-dutch border. the numbers of wild geese, including canada geese, are increasing markedly here, too. they're damaging crops and their droppings are spoiling the soil in the fields. farmers are at their wits' end. >> the geese know it's safe on the german side. that's why they come. goose." -- forget the saying, "silly as a goose." >> in order to protect his winter wheat, this farmer wants german hunters to be able to take more geese as well. but even hunting isn't going to resolve the issue any more. >> you've got to do something when they're nesting, in the spring.
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swap their fertilized eggs with fake ones made of plaster. if you just took the eggs away, they'd lay more, and you're back where you started. >> it's the same for these egyptian geese, which have long been at home in germany and the netherlands. conservationist nicole feige of friends of the earth, germany, says the farmers have only themselves to blame. by overfertilizing, they've created a geese paradise on both sides of the rhine. >> there's always fresh, protein-rich grass there and the geese get lots of energy from it. if the protein content and grass weren't of such good quality, then the geese don't eat as much of it and don't multiply in such great numbers. >> she says the solution is to have farmers cultivate less land and accept losses.
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she says permitting geese to be hunted is pointless. >> even if you just shoot a few of them, the whole flock becomes nervous and flies off. the more they fly, the more energy they use. they get hungry and need to eat more grass. so in principle, all it does is cause more damage to the fields. >> further down the rhine in the town of deventer in the netherlands, a dutch hunter is getting together with a colleague. they want the quotas raised for gray, nile, and canada geese. they only smile when they hear that that would only worsen things in germany. >> you can't rule it out completely, but it's very unlikely. because the gray and canada geese that have settled here rarely fly more than 20 kilometers away.
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of course there are geese in the border region, but there are so few of them that they'd hardly notice the difference in germany. >> in the afternoon, wim westhoff gives it another go. there are plenty of geese to shoot at. >> in the end, you go home with three or four geese, or one or two perhaps. that's nice. it's exciting and that makes it fun. >> so it's back to the blind to wait again. the hunter says it's worth it, because in the end, you know the meat is organic through and through. >> one of the most controversial european stories over the last few months has been the case of a british couple who took their cancer-stricken son, ashya king, out of hospital in the uk
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without permission. they brought illegally him to spain. british authorities released a european arrest warrant, and one of the first things that spanish police did was turn to social media, posting an alert on twitter. within minutes, the police received a message from someone who had spotted the couple, and they were arrested. it's the highest profile example so far of how spanish police are increasingly using social media to combat crime. >> like almost anywhere in the world, the police in spain are seen as figures of respect. and like cops in many parts of the world, the policia nacional have something of an image problem. but over the past few years, that's begun to change in spain. here, all of a sudden, the police are cool and trendy -- reason enough for us to ask, why have the police in spain gotten so popular?
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this police station in madrid may be able to supply an answer. here, the officers have traded pistols and handcuffs for a more powerful weapon -- the short-message networking service twitter. five years ago, media officer carlos guerra opened the twitter account @policia. now, it has 1.1 million followers -- more than the fbi or cia. >> we address people very personally and directly, sometimes with an ironic twinkle of an eye, but always with understanding. >> the officers of this special digital unit educate the public. they pass on useful tips and receive them in return. the result is over 500 arrests of narcotics offenders alone -- thanks to tips through twitter.
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regularly guerra and his colleague post links to video clips. their strategy is to win over followers with clips containing lots of action. ♪ >> people ask us how we work. they may want to see odd and interesting videos of operations, or they may need advice. >> it may not be an official duty, but now and then, cops on patrol get out their tablets and smart phones. the occasional tweet can backfire. one follower asked about the best way to smuggle a joint onto an airplane. the officer answered jokingly, "how about in a pack of cigarettes?" his superior was not amused. >> i didn't sleep for five nights after that, but that's the risk, when you're always
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tweeting things, direct, fast, every day. >> but on the whole, the spanish police twitter account has been a great success. a quick snapshot, and it's back to tweeting. the more followers, the safer the public. >> police across the world are starting to follow spain's example, but there are allegations that twitter is sometimes being abused. there have been cases where officers have posted videos or photos, which allegedly infringe people's right to privacy. let me know what you think by email, or, of course, on twitter. earlier this year the european union gave albania the green light to start negotiations to enter the eu. this membership process usually takes years, but the possibility of accession is a big incentive for potential members to enact reforms, for example by cleaning up corruption, and in albania's case by also cleaning up the giant mountains of rubbish that
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are destroying the environment. >> the fence hardly seems necessary. the overpowering stench is enough to keep most people far away. but inside, a motley group has been waiting all morning for the garbage truck to arrive, hoping it's carrying something they can turn into ready cash -- deposit bottles or cans that will bring a few cents. 7-year-old mathilda joins the rest of the family to help her father make a living. on good days, they can scrape together about eight euros. she's proud to be going to first grade at primary school. but her home is this garbage dump in the albanian capital tirana.
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it may be hard for most europeans to believe the conditions tirana's 600,000-odd inhabitants live under. and unless they've seen it with their own eyes, it's difficult to imagine the polluted river flowing through the middle of town -- and straight into the adriatic sea. deputy mayor in charge of infrastructure enno bozdo claims the government's trying to raise awareness of the need for environmental protection, but that takes time. >> the situation we're facing now -- it is not so strange for most of the european countries. in the 1960's and 1970's, in the germany, there were plenty of illegal dumps on both sides of the river. and of course, it takes to undertake a very energetic action, definitely.
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first, we want to recuperate from the civil war and then we'll see how to tackle , the problem. >> but time is of the essence. in june, albania officially became a candidate for european union membership. but it's still struggling with the 46-year legacy of autocratic communist rule. while the political elite has enriched itself, very few of albania's 3 million people have prospered. the great majority live in crumbling concrete pre-fabs with infrastructure more typical of a third world country. many of the buildings were put up without permits. like these on a section of the river the city had already cleaned up. the city hauled off 600,000 cubic meters of trash in a few weeks, and wanted to dispose of
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another 500,000 only to turn up another serious problem. >> until now, and up to the length of almost one kilometer, we have discovered 2000 illegal waste pipelines. so basically, everything will be removed, and we will collect it, and we will put it in the collectors. >> the city council has ambitious plans to make tirana a flourishing capital with a well-functioning infrastructure on a clean river. the optimistic visions hang on the wall of the mayor's office. the plans also provide for doing away with tirana's garbage dumps in their current form. >> and what are you going to do with the the people who are living there, collecting the waste? >> the people are not there any more, because we have erected a wall surrounding it. >> but we were there yesterday. there are a lot of people there.
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>> not at the shara itself. at the beginning of shara, yes, but not at the entrance of shara. so, they will not be allowed any more. >> they can ban people likeplitg the dump, but that doesn't mean she's been dealt with. she may no longer be seen at the entrance, but she'll still find a way to continue scavaging. she has no choice. a worker makes a half-hearted attempt to chase the garbage pickers off, but only as long as the camera's on. well aware that they have nothing else to live on and nowhere else to live. >> in many regions across europe, there's a fierce debate about breaking away and become independent. last weekend, in an unofficial referendum, catalonian separatists voted overwhelmingly
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to leave spain. but the italian island of salt in a is very difficult -- very different. to break away, but not to become independent, but rather to join another part of europe entirely. >> this is sardinia, italy. it's known for its kilometers of beautiful coastline, gentle breezes and mediterranean climate. and this is switzerland -- famous for its alps, skiing, hiking, alpine horns, and swiss cheese. now the two may be united -- at least if andrea caruso and enrico napoleone have their way. >> we want sardinia to become switzerland's 27th canton. >> a mediterranean island as part of switzerland?
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>> sardinia is a wonderful place with a great landscape, an excellent climate, and 1.5 million residents. it can't be that such a wealthy region is unable to look after its own people. >> caruso and napoleone have been friends since their school days. two years ago they started the intitiative "canton marittimo." the aim was for sardinia to break away from stagnant italy in favour of a more attractive partner -- switzerland. the car dealer and the dentist are trying to win over others. they founded a facebook group, which now has over 13,000 members. caruso and napoleone regularly meet with their supporters to discuss new ideas. here everyone is in agreement:
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♪ >> we're being strangled by the italian state, which treats us like italy's trash heap. >> the canton marittimo is a real alternative for us. it's something diffferent that's easily understood and gives us hope. >> flyers, t-shirts, and stickers are supposed to create support for the idea across the island. caruso and napoleone take the idea of sardinian secession very seriously -- they've even designed a new flag. and they say switzerland stands to gain, too. >> the swiss don't have any seaside so they could profit , from sardinia.
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>> caruso and napoleone think it would be advantageous for both sides -- switzerland would get a seaside paradise and sardinia the benefit of a strong, stable economy. but others disagree. >> we have to protect our autonomy. we're italians. sardinians first and foremost and then italians, and we want to stay in italy. i'm absolutely against joining switzerland. >> i'm a freelancer and have long considered moving to switzerland, because there are no prospects for us young people here in italy. >> the two separatists hope they can persuade others who feel the same way to join them. but they haven't been able to win over that many. even at this café in cagliari where they're regulars opinion is divided --
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>> sardinians are lackadaisical. our economy's in bad shape. anything that could improve that would be welcome. >> i thought it was a joke. it seems like a pretty strange idea to me. >> here's a sticker. put it on your car. >> no way. >> andrea caruso and enrico napoleone haven't spoken to representatives of the swiss government yet but they plan to , keep campaigning. maybe someday sardinians will say -- >> grützi! adioso! >> well, i'd be very interested to know what the swiss think of that idea. so that's it for today. thanks very much for watching, and a see you next time. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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>> garrison keillor: toi derricotte grew up outside detroit. with the poet cornelius eady, she cofounded cave canem, an organization committed to cultivating and supporting the work of african american poets. she says, "truth telling in my art is also a way to separate myself from what i have been taught to believe about myself-- the degrading stereotypes about black women." >> blackbottom. when relatives came from out of town, we would drive down to blackbottom. drive slowly down the congested main streets-- beaubien and hastings-- trapped in the mesh of saturday night. we were freshly escaped, black middle class. we snickered and were proud; the
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louder the streets, the prouder. we laughed at the bright clothes of a prostitute; a man sitting on a curb with a bottle in his hand. we smelled barbecue cooking in dented washtubs and our mouths watered. as much as we wanted it, we couldn't take the chance. rhythm and blues came from the windows, the throaty voice of a woman lost in the bass, in the drums, in the dirty down and out-- the grind. ♪"i love to see a funeral, then i know it ain't mine." ♪ we rolled our windows down so that the waves rolled over us like blood. we hoped to pass invisibly, knowing on monday we would return safely to our jobs, the post office, and classroom.
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we wanted our sufferings to be offered up as tender meat, and our triumphs to be belted out in raucous song. we had lost our voice in the suburbs, in conant gardens, where each brick house delineated a fence of silence; we had lost the right to sing in the street and damn creation. we returned to wash our hands of them; to smell them whose very existence tore us down to the human. ( applause ) thanks so much.
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♪ a mandate, japan's prime minister dissolves the lower house for a snap election putting his policies before the public. remembering a leading man. film fans mourn the loss of an icon of japan's post war movie industry. and food flies from p too oftens and other natural


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