Italy: Europe's Mightiest Volcano - Mount Etna is both fascinating and feared, and it attracts thousands of tourists every year. But for two weeks there have been new eruptive fissures. The summit has been closed off since they appeared. Three volcanoes constantly keep Italy on tenterhooks: Stromboli, the most active; the unpredictable Vesuvius; and the tallest, Mount Etna. At a height of 3352 meters, it visibly dominates much of the eastern coast of Sicily. Time and again, earthquakes shake the region, clouds of ash darken the skies and lava flows destroy houses high up on the mountain. A team of volcanologists and rangers on site monitor every movement Etna makes. Theoretically, an eruption could happen at any time. Russia Censorship: Prudery in Putinland - Russia is being flooded by a wave of morality legislation. Scantily-clad statues, swear words and lace undergarments are coming into the sights of Duma representatives. What at first sight looks like a piece of bungling could be the latest in a raft of regressive laws designed to enforce moral standards. On July 1st this year, laws came into effect aimed at protecting citizens from low-quality lingerie and swear words. De facto, just under 90% of the underclothing available in Russia was banned. As far as vulgarity and profanity are concerned, the bans mean that in the media and the arts many songs with "indecorous" language can no longer be played on the radio without being censored with bleep sounds. Not even the statue of Apollo in front of the Bolshoi has escaped the wrath of the Moscow moralists: since the theater was renovated, its loins have been covered with a fig leaf. Spain: Deadly Danger for Europe's Vultures - Spain is home to the largest population of vultures in Europe, but their numbers are steadily declining. A new drug for cattle now threatens to wipe out the vultures altogether. Vultures have long had a bad reputation in Spain. Time and time again, the birds are illegally poisoned, because they are said to prey on living cattle. Now the EU has authorized the administration of veterinary diclofenac to livestock in Spain and Italy - a deadly threat to the four species of vultures that live in Spain. The anti-inflammatory drug has already led to the near-extinction of the vulture population in India, Pakistan and Nepal. The birds ingest the substance when eating the carcasses of cattle treated with the drug, and die of kidney failure. Czech Republic: Hosting the Five Thousand - When refugees from the former East Germany camping in the West German embassy in Prague were finally given official permission to leave for West Germany, it was a milestone that presaged the fall of the Berlin Wall. 25 years ago, many helpers behind the scenes helped make it possible. When Hans-Dietrich Genscher, West German Foreign Minister at the time, announced to the refugees in the embassy in Prague that they would be allowed to emigrate to West Germany, it was an iconic moment in post-war German history. What is less well known is the story of Hermann Huber, the West German ambassador in the Prague embassy. Reporter Tilmann Bunz met him and tells how the ambassador and his wife faced the task of sheltering 5000 refugees in summer 1989.
Back to top