- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 7, 2004

GREECE

NATO begins Olympic sea patrols

ATHENS — NATO warships started patrolling international waters off Greece Friday as part of its role in securing this week’s Athens Olympics, the first Summer Games since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Seven NATO vessels and one submarine cruised off Greek waters monitoring sea traffic at the start of the operation, code-named Distinguished Games.

Ireland

EU expansion boosts job seekers

DUBLIN — The number of workers from the 10 new European Union member states seeking work in Ireland has risen sharply since the May 1 enlargement, according to government statistics released Friday.

Figures from the Ministry of Social and Family Affairs indicate almost 23,000 people from the new members have sought employment in Ireland during the past three months.

The figures are based on the number of accession countries’ citizens seeking a personal public-service number that is necessary in Ireland to get a job or to access social welfare services.

GERMANY

Publishers in revolt over spelling rules

BERLIN — Two of Germany’s biggest news publishers said Friday they would abandon new spelling rules that millions of schoolchildren have learned since 1998, rekindling a long-running battle over the German language.

Germany’s leading newsweekly Der Spiegel and Axel Springer Verlag, publisher of the country’s top-selling Bild tabloid, urged others to join them and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily in going back to the old rules.

German-language experts have wrestled for decades over a consistent set of spelling standards, finally producing an accord in 1996 on new rules that have come into force in stages and are due to take full and final effect on Aug. 1, 2005.

Among other amendments, the reform changed the spelling of many compound words, cut the distinctive “sz” sound represented by a Greek Beta character and altered rules on use of commas.

Critics have said the new rules impose an artificial straitjacket on language.

NETHERLANDS

Lawmakers mull ban on toe licking

AMSTERDAM — Toe-licking could become a criminal offense in the Netherlands after a man who licked the toes of several women was released by police without charges.

The 35-year-old toe-licker, who reportedly has been pursuing his fetish for years, was arrested in Rotterdam last week.

“A lick over the foot doesn’t qualify as a crime: there has to be some kind of objective sex act committed,” said prosecution spokesman Cees van Spierenburg in the Rotterdam Daily newspaper. “That’s the way the law is.”

Lawmakers Peter van Heemst and Aleid Wolfsen, members of the leading opposition Labor Party, asked Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner in a formal complaint to change the law.


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