First Couple (#3020)
Sweden/Germany: Forced Laborers for IKEA - IKEA's assembly network in the 1980s included sites in what was then communist East Germany. It appears that the workforce there included political prisoners forced to work. Documents in the Stasi archives are now said to show that some of the furniture giant's products were assembled by forced laborers. The company says that if it did happen, then without its knowledge. IKEA has now said it is willing to talk to the former political prisoners in question to clarify the issue.
France: A Perfectly Normal Couple - Francois Hollande and Valerie Trierweiler want to remain just another couple after moving into the Elysee Palace. There is growing pressure on them from the public, however. They are France's first presidential couple not to be married. In addition, the electorate has been further annoyed by the low-profile stance taken by the country's new Premiere Dame. During the election campaign Valerie Trierweiler had helped give her boyfriend a bit more character and charisma in the public eye. Now, however, she has no plans to stay in the limelight and instead intends to return to her career as a journalist.
Spain: A Village Defies the Crisis - The village of Marinaleda in Andalusia has relatively low debts by current Spanish standards. The mayor has been banking on austerity and grassroots democracy. Mayor Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo is a libertarian communist. He uses a megaphone to convene village meetings, which make decisions then carried out by the council. Two decades ago the Andalusian regional movernment bought all the private land, enabling the village to now be run as a cooperative. Not everyone in Marinaleda has work - but overall the village has successfully weathered the economic storm of recent years.
Turkey: Putting the Brakes on the Dolmus - The drivers of Istanbul's 6,000 minibuses called the dolmus are up in arms. The city's mayor wants to replace the vehicles with regulated, air-conditioned city buses. If you don't have a car in Istanbul you take the Dolmus. That's a minibus with 14 seats but more passengers often squeeze in when needed. The minibuses operate in an informal and chaotic way. The door usually stays open so that passengers can jump in at intersections. If someone wants to exit, the driver simply hits the brakes. The mayor of Istanbul says the vehicles are a threat to road safety and wants to introduce modern buses instead. He's offered the Dolmus drivers that they can drive the newer city buses instead. But they remain skeptical. [26 minutes]
This episode has not aired in the past few months on Iowa Public Television.
Series Description: EUROPEAN JOURNAL looks beyond the headlines and sound bites to deliver relevant, unbiased and imaginative reporting on the events shaping the political, economic and cultural landscape of Europe. Each week, teams of journalists, photographers and producers scour the continent in search of stories with impact and meaning for American viewers, while alternating presenters Jim Gibbons and Cathy Smith provide in-depth analysis on this dynamic region.
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