Archive for September, 2010

30 September 2010

Romania, Officially a Banana Republic

Romanians may be able to see the good side of everything, even of global warming, but this time it’s not a question of climate change. For two decades, Romanian scientists have researched the ways to “convince” the bananas and the kiwi fruits to grow in Dracula’s country. And now, as PRO TV reports, they’ve made it happen.

Romania is prepared, from this point of view, to go bananas anytime now. Tropical fruits can yield harvest in Romania’s continental-temperate climate, with frosts during the winter and relatively cold temperatures for 6 of the year’s 12 months. Among the exotic fruits adapted by the Romanian scientists there is also the so-called “Fruit of the Gods”, or “Diospyros Kaki”, a delicacy sold for 3 euros a piece in Italy.

Two hectares of experimental banana cultures can be now found not far from Bucharest. Agronomers actually claim having created a new brand of banana – the Northern Banana – slightly different from it’s African sister. With a thinner skin, a bit different in shape and with two hard-shelled seeds inside, the Romanian banana tastes, luckily, just the same as the traditional one. And, with some hard work, it may become Romania’s next export.

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30 September 2010

Sex and Housekeeping for Sharing Dorm in Romania

Many female students in Bucharest now pay for sharing a student’s dorm room in sex and housekeeping, according to Romanian newspaper Adevărul. Housing facilities in university centres in Romania are scarce and can hardly accomodate half the students registered. Renting on the open market, again, is often too expensive for many students, so boys and girls alike seized the opportunity for cheaper housing.

“Room share for sex and housekeeping” is a phrase more and more often found on forums and advert websites. “Text me with your physical description and I will write back if I am interested”, some ads continue. Many young girls will become a boy’s mistress in exchange for accomodation, it was revealed after several boys started bragging around camps about the trade.

Student organizations also confirm that the practice has become frequent. They blame universities for allowing too many young people to register as students on tuition fees. Up until a decade ago, universities did not charge tuition fees, but, in order to supplement their weak budgets, almost all of them started to increase the number of students and charge those who exceed the number of subsidies allowed by the Ministry of Education.

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29 September 2010

Outrage at Cat Shooting Maniac in Romania

Romanians are in disgust at what is probably the worst case of animal cruelty in Europe ever recorded. A man, from Constanţa, bought a gun and then, angry at the felines that lived on his street, went out on a cat-shooting spree. Before he could be stopped, the maniac took the lives of countless cats – some of them stray cats, some of them house cats, with owners.

Many cats were also seriously injured. Puric, a tom-cat that belongs to a family on that street, lost his left eye, that was struck by one of the bullets. He is lucky to be alive, say veterinarians, because the other two family cats did not survive the wounds.

Police finally captured the cat-shooter, but quickly had to release him. The only charge that the Romanian law can face him with is misuse of a weapon, with a maximum penalty of 3 years in prison. A person can be arrested, in Romania, if the crime held on that person’s account is punished with more than 5 years of imprisonment.

The townsfolk are outraged and claim that the shooter may turn on humans anytime he pleases. The cat shooter said, in his defence, that he could no longer stand the felines “miaou-ing and stealing his food”.

Romania has a black record of cruelty towards animals. Horses, in the countryside, are often beaten and left to starve. Other cases of cruelty against cats and dogs have also provoked outrage in the media. Mistreating an animal can be punished, under the Romanian law, with only a fine of 2000 Romanian Lei – roughly 400 British Pounds Sterling.

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29 September 2010

Ukranian Sailors’ Pirate Scare in Romania

A Ukranian boat called for police support on Wednesday afternoon, claiming the ship was under a pirate attack, while mooring in Romanian waters, on the Danube-Black Sea Channel, according to PRO TV. Some men had, indeed, boarded the ship without permission, apparently trying to steal some scrap iron – the boat’s cargo.

The 5 sailors that were aboard the ship baricaded in their cabins and immediately called 112, the Romanian emergency number. The “pirates” made of with some of the loot before the police arrived at the scene. The suspects were quickly apprehended and claimed innocence – although police say the suspects have several prior convictions.

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29 September 2010

EXCLUSIVE! “Scottish Driver Did Not Molest Our Boy”

The family of the 9 year old Romanian boy who was allegedly sexually molested by a Scottish lorry driver in August this year makes surprising statements. According to the boy’s sister and to his aunt, the 9 year old boy, who was found in the Scottish driver’s company, along with another 13 years old, was not the victim of sexual abuse.

“He told us that the foreigner only had oral sex with the other boy, but not with ours”, claim both the aunt, and the elder sister, in an exclusive interview for Task Force Media.

The driver, James Connor, was arrested on August the 23rd in Vaslui, Romania. In the cabin of his lorry, the police found a 9 year old boy that had been reported missing, another 13 years old boy and a laptop computer that, according to prosecutors, contained pornographic images with children. Investigators claim that the Scottish driver took several children in his cabin, drove them around various locations in Romania and abused them. While doing that, he would also film the outrageous scenes.

James Connor is currently under arrest and, pending his trial, whose date has not been set yet.

Task Force Media can offer exclusive video footage of the interview.

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29 September 2010

Roma Unemployment: Whose Fault Is It?

One in two Gipsies in Romania had no job and one in three had no profession – these figures, from 2007, have probably taken an even more serious dive for the worse, since the beginning of the crisis. But even those who are qualified seem to have a hard time finding labour.

There are several associations in Romania that teach the Roma willing to work a trade. The students can become waiters, cooks, hair stylists, builders, brick layers and so on. But many of the graduates are still unemployed, for various reasons.

Sometimes, employers will simply avoid hiring a Roma worker, according to Roma officials. Managers will invoke their lack of qualiffication or experience or just tell them that the vacancy has just been filled by someone else. There are, also, times when the Roma and the managers don’t get along and the former will just quit.

None the less, politicians are all over the Roma with reproaches to their alleged lack of apetite for work. The Romanian President, Traian Băsescu, has recently told the Roma to stop begging and to find jobs. And even Roma MP’s, like Mădălin Voice, have voiced opinions according to which the Gipsies simply refuse to work.

The truth is probably half way in-between, but the facts are blunt: the Roma have the highest rate of unemployment, a lot of them live in severe poverty and many times those who want to change their lives are refused the chance to do it the legal way.

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29 September 2010

Roma NGOs – A Smoke Screen for the EU

There are more than 200 NGOs that claim to improve the life of the Roma people in Romania, the country of origin for the vast majority of Roma that migrate to Western European Countries. One NGO for every 2500 Roma that officially live in Romania. These NGOs have reportedly spent almost 50 million Euros in the past decade, mostly on conferences, television adverts and printing flyers, with little good consequence for the lives of the poor Roma.

Many such NGOs only seem to exist on paper: they have no websites, mailing addresses and, sometimes, the few who have a telephone contact number don’t seem eager to take their calls.

There would be a lot of work to do for these NGOs: half of the abled body Roma people in Romania are jobless and about a third lack any qualiffications at all. 50 percent of all Roma teenagers are expected to drop out of high-school, according to an UNESCO survey. For most of them, going to France or Spain to beg seems the easiest solution. Those repatriated in 2010 are already packing to leave again, to the UK or to other countries.

The European Union is throwing millions of Euros in a bid to integrate, educate and to help the Roma find jobs and to go to schools. But how much of that money is really going to the aid of the people who need it?

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28 September 2010

Romanian Media, Outraged by Ludicrous Legal Project

A new legal proposal, raised by a liberal MP in Romania, is making waves in all forms of media, voicing protests at what has been called yet another attempt to muzzle the press, in a country who’s only broken away from a totalitarian oppressive regime two decades ago.

Ioan Ghişe, a senator for the National Liberal Party, wants journalists to be psychiatrically evaluated every three years, to not be able to publish unless licenced to do so and to only be able to work in “media cabinets”, very similar to the sollicitors’ cabinets. Licences for journalists would be granted and revoked by a state authority – for situations such as a “media misdemeanour”.

The liberal’s project also wants to ban the publishing of any information that does not originate from a licenced “journalist’s cabinet” – a measure that would, obviously, put an end to citizen journalism.

The bill’s author has attempted to pass another law regarding the media, in 2008, when he supported a project that would have compelled the media to publish “bad news” and “good news” in equal proportions. The bill, luckily, has been rejected since.

The bill is now in Romania’s Senate House, where it will undergo the approval procedure. Media representatives have reacted either ironically, or in outrage. Ghişe’s own party, the National Liberal Party, claims the project has no backing whatsoever from the political organization.

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28 September 2010

Romania, the New Bonanza of Organ Trafficking

Dozens of Romanians have allegedly been selling their own kidneys on the black market, to an underground illegal organization based in South Africa. This is what the surprising indictment voiced against oustanding figures of the medical world in South Africa seems to reveal, according to sources.

Organ smugglers have shifted their land of choice from Israel, where a human kidney would cost about 15.000 Euros, to Romania, where the poorer Romanians would only charge 4.500 Euros. A rather lucrative business, considering that the organs would then be sold to recipient patients for rougly 20 times as much.

Sources within the police have vaguely confirmed the involvement of Romanians in the South African investigation. This scandal comes only a year after a reputed fertilization clinic in Bucharest, ran by Israeli doctors, was accused of trafficking human embrios.

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28 September 2010

I Quit Teaching! Leaving to Spain, to Be a Fortune Teller!

That is what Maricica Haraga, a Gipsy laguage teacher who until recently taught Romanes (the official Gipsy language) in a small town in the Eastern part of Romania, told her former employers. She made up her mind after the government ducked her pay by 25%, just like it did to all of the other teachers, police officer, fire fighters, doctors, paramedics and prison wardens in Romania, at the request of the IMF.

“I used to be paid 600 Romanian Lei, about 150 Euros, but I was left with just 450 after the pay cuts. Six years into my teaching career, I realized my shoes were overworn, my clothes were all but torn and the bank was knocking on my door about some loans I had. I have three children to feed, it’s not like I had an option”, said Maricica.

She would not be the first to choose a fortune-telling venture abroad over a teaching career in Romania. Another former employee of the town hall, a mediator for the Rroma, left the country planning to make a fortune out of reading in the palms of Spaniards.

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