Sylvia Poggioli

Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's international desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia and how immigration has transformed European societies.

Since joining NPR's foreign desk in 1982, Poggioli has traveled extensively for reporting assignments. Most recently, she travelled to Norway to cover the aftermath of the brutal attacks by an ultra-rightwing extremist; to Greece, Spain, and Portugal for the latest on the euro-zone crisis; and the Balkans where the last wanted war criminals have been arrested.

In addition, Poggioli has traveled to France, Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, and Denmark to produce in-depth reports on immigration, racism, Islam, and the rise of the right in Europe.

Throughout her career Poggioli has been recognized for her work with distinctions including: the WBUR Foreign Correspondent Award, the Welles Hangen Award for Distinguished Journalism, a George Foster Peabody and National Women's Political Caucus/Radcliffe College Exceptional Merit Media Awards, the Edward Weintal Journalism Prize, and the Silver Angel Excellence in the Media Award. Poggioli was part of the NPR team that won the 2000 Overseas Press Club Award for coverage of the war in Kosovo. In 2009, she received the Maria Grazia Cutulli Award for foreign reporting.

In 2000, Poggioli received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Brandeis University. In 2006, she received an honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts at Boston together with Barack Obama.

Prior to this honor, Poggioli was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences "for her distinctive, cultivated and authoritative reports on 'ethnic cleansing' in Bosnia." In 1990, Poggioli spent an academic year at Harvard University as a research fellow at Harvard University's Center for Press, Politics, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government.

From 1971 to 1986, Poggioli served as an editor on the English-language desk for the Ansa News Agency in Italy. She worked at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. She was actively involved with women's film and theater groups.

The daughter of Italian anti-fascists who were forced to flee Italy under Mussolini, Poggioli was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She graduated from Harvard College with a Bachelor's degree in Romance languages and literature. She later studied in Italy under a Fulbright Scholarship.

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The Salt
3:18 am
Mon December 24, 2012

At Christmas, A Roman Holiday Revolves Around The Food

Christmas chocolate and sweets on display at a Christmas market at Piazza Navona on Dec. 20 in Rome.
Alberto Pizzoli AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 11:05 am

The city of Rome may be the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, but as far as bright, glitzy decorations, Christmas there has always been a rather sober affair.

And yet at Christmastime, there's one area where Romans pull out all the stops — the dinner table.

Even with the economic crisis, outdoor markets, grocery shops and fishmongers are crowded with customers.

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World
3:18 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Families Of Spain's 'Stolen Babies' Seek Answers — And Reunions

Antonio Iniesta demonstrates in Madrid's Puerta del Sol square last month. He's searching for a younger brother he believes is one of Spain's bebes robados, or stolen babies.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 10:20 am

Allegations of the existence of a secret network of doctors and nuns who stole newborn babies and sold them for adoption are reviving a dark chapter in Spain's recent history.

More than 1,000 people have gone to court hoping to track down sons and daughters or brothers and sisters they were told died in childbirth.

In Madrid's Puerta del Sol square last month, Antonio Iniesta stood next to a poster with the words bebes robados (stolen babies). His demonstration is intended to publicize his search for a brother he's convinced is alive.

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Europe
11:47 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Spain's Crisis Leads To Rise Of Grass-Roots Groups

A demonstrator shouts during a protest against housing evictions in Madrid last month. The sign to his right reads, "Stop evictions."
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 8:44 pm

A year and a half ago, recession-ravaged Spanish society reacted to the economic crisis with the "Indignados," a mass protest that inspired the worldwide "Occupy" movement.

The "angry ones" are long gone from Spanish streets, but they've evolved into many grass-roots associations now filling the gaps left by the eroding welfare state, spawning a new form of anti-austerity resistance that embraces all branches of society, from those who have lost homes to foreclosures, to the entire judiciary.

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World
5:06 am
Sun December 9, 2012

Spain's Economic Woes Take A Toll On The Media

El Pais journalists demonstrate outside the newspaper's headquarters in Madrid last month.
Dominique Faget AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 10, 2012 10:53 am

Three years of euro-zone recession have badly hurt Spain's media sector, where some 8,500 journalists have lost their jobs. Dozens of newspapers have closed and the remaining publications are sharply cutting back as ads plummet.

That's led to warnings from journalists, who see a threat to press freedom at a time when Spaniards want to understand why their financial stability is unraveling.

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Europe
3:39 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Cat Fight In Rome: Beloved Shelter Faces Closure

A stray cat rests at the Torre Argentina ruins in Rome in October. Officials say a cat shelter that sits adjacent to the site must be shut down.
Filippo Monteforte AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 10:23 am

Anyone who has visited Rome and its antique monuments has also seen their four-legged residents: the many stray cats that bask in the sun amid the ruins.

One site in central Rome is known as "cat forum," thanks to its adjacent cat shelter. But Italian archaeology officials have issued the Torre Argentina Cat Shelter Association an eviction notice, and feline lovers from around the world are bracing for a cat fight.

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Europe
5:16 am
Mon November 26, 2012

Separatists Make Gains In Catalan Elections

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 9:44 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's catch up on a vote in Catalonia, Spain's most economically powerful region. That region gave overwhelming support to pro-independence parties in elections on Sunday. This election is seen as a threat to Spain's political and financial stability, so we're going to talk about this with NPR's Sylvia Poggioli. She is in the most famous city in Catalonia, Barcelona.

And, Sylvia, we did say that there were pro-independence parties. Who exactly won these elections?

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Europe
6:02 am
Sun November 25, 2012

Fiscal Woes Fade For Catalan's Independence Fervor

Supporters of center-right Catalan Nationalist Coalition leader Artur Mas wave pro-independence flags during the last day of campaigning in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday.
Emilio Morenatti AP

Originally published on Sun November 25, 2012 2:09 pm

Voters in Spain's northern region of Catalonia go to the polls Sunday in a parliamentary election that is shaping up as an unofficial referendum on secession. The current Catalan president has pledged to pursue a move toward independence if re-elected.

The region, which holds 8 million people, is the country's industrial engine. Catalans are resentful that their taxes are being siphoned off for poorer regions. The prospect of secession is opposed both by the Madrid government and the European Union.

'We Are Not Spaniards'

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World
11:13 am
Fri November 23, 2012

Italian Women Call For Action Against 'Femicide'

Demonstrators rally to protest violence against women in a march in Milan, Italy, in November 2009. This year, more than 100 women in Italy have been killed by their male partners.
Antonio Calanni AP

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 10:02 pm

Already this year, 105 women in Italy have been killed by husbands or boyfriends –- present or former.

Vanessa Scialfa, 29, was killed by her partner in Sicily. Alessia Francesca Simonetta, 25, was pregnant when she was stabbed to death by her boyfriend in Milan. Carmella Petrucci, 17, was stabbed in the throat as she tried to defend her sister from her ex-boyfriend.

Police inspector Francesca Monaldi, who heads the gender crime unit in Rome, says the names and the cities change, but the stories are very similar.

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Shots - Health News
6:03 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

German Lawmakers Move To Quell Uproar Over Circumcision

A rabbi holds up a pillow used during ritual circumcision at a synagogue in Berlin.
Markus Schreiber AP

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 12:38 pm

Circumcisions have been virtually suspended in Germany for the past four months. The practice was effectively banned after a regional court in Cologne ruled that circumcision amounts to assault.

That controversial ruling this summer alienated the country's 120,000 registered Jews and 4 million Muslims, who saw it as a violation of religious freedom. It also fueled accusations of intolerance in a country still haunted by its Nazi past.

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Europe
12:25 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

With A Database, Germany Tracks Rise Of Neo-Nazis

Neo-Nazis and their sympathizers march on Feb. 13 to commemorate the World War II firebombing of Dresden, Germany, by Allied planes. Concerns about far-right extremism have grown in Germany after the discovery last year of an extreme far-right cell believed to have carried out a decade-long crime spree, including the murder of 10 people, mainly Turkish shopkeepers, bank robberies and bombs.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 5:13 pm

The spread of neo-Nazi influence in Germany came to light fully last year with the shocking discovery of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell responsible for the worst right-wing violence since World War II.

At least nine people of migrant origin were murdered, and there were bomb attacks and bank robberies.

In response, Germany last month established the first centralized neo-Nazi database, similar to those that existed for decades for Islamic and leftist extremists.

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Europe
3:26 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Vatican II: A Half-Century Later, A Mixed Legacy

Thousands of faithful Catholics carry torches in a procession in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on Oct. 11, 1962, the opening day of the historic Second Vatican Council. Over a three-year period, more than 2,000 bishops from around the world issued 16 landmark documents, which championed a more inclusive, less hierarchical and open church.
Girolamo Di Majo AP

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 8:23 am

At Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, 50 years ago this week, the newly elected pontiff stunned the world by calling the first Catholic Church Council in nearly a century — the Second Vatican Council, or what's known as Vatican II.

Pope John XXIII called for the institution's renewal and more interaction with the modern world.

As a result of Vatican II, the Catholic Church opened its windows onto the modern world, updated the liturgy, gave a larger role to laypeople, introduced the concept of religious freedom and started a dialogue with other religions.

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Europe
2:58 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

German Catholics' Path To Heaven Comes With Taxes

Bavarian bishops walk in a procession to the Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers near Bad Staffelstein, Germany, in May. A decree by the German bishops' conference warns that German Catholics who do not pay a state church tax will be denied sacraments.
Daniel Karmann EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 11:02 pm

Germany's bishops have a clear message for the country's 25 million Catholics: The road to heaven requires more than faith and good intentions; it requires tax payments, too.

Last month, German bishops warned that if members of the Catholic Church don't pay the country's church tax, they'll be denied the sacraments — including baptisms, weddings and funerals.

In increasingly secular Europe, Germany is one of the few countries where the state collects a special levy from tax-registered believers and hands it over to three organized faiths.

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Europe
7:54 am
Sun September 23, 2012

Italy's Fiat Woes A Symptom Of Industrial Malady

Automaker Fiat threatened to shutter operations in Italy.
AFP Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 1:22 pm

Automaker Fiat announced its commitment to remain in Italy after a meeting Saturday between the company's CEO and the country's president.

Fiat had threatened to shut down its operations in Italy unless it received additional state assistance. The crisis came at a time the entire country is undergoing a steep decline across all industrial sectors.

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U.S.
5:58 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Sharp Differences Dull U.S. Influence On Euro Crisis

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The eurozone crisis has weighed heavily on the global economy and it will remain a central foreign-policy challenge for President Obama or Mitt Romney, whichever man wins in November. The Obama administration has repeatedly urged eurozone countries to shift their focus from austerity to growth. This week, we're focusing on foreign policy issues facing the next administration.

And NPR's Sylvia Poggioli has this story on the eurozone.

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Europe
4:54 am
Sat August 18, 2012

Italian Yacht Owners Weigh Anchor To Dodge Taxes

The quayside at Compagnia della Vela in Venice, Italy, is largely deserted. Authorities have targeted yacht owners as part of a crackdown on tax evasion, and many boat owners have sailed to other countries in the Mediterranean.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat August 18, 2012 8:24 pm

Italy has a public debt of nearly 2 trillion euros, and it's cracking down on its notoriously wily tax evaders. Owners of luxury yachts are a prime target, with tax police launching dockside raids to see how individual tax files line up with owning and maintaining an expensive boat.

But yachts are mobile assets. In response, many boat owners are simply weighing anchor and setting course for more tax-friendly Mediterranean marinas.

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Europe
5:03 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Italy Worries Sicily's Woes Could Have Ripple Effect

Raffaele Lombardo, the governor of Sicily, speaks to reporters after his meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in Rome last week. Lombardo has been accused of having ties to the Mafia in Sicily.
Alessandro Bianchi Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 5:09 pm

In antiquity, Sicily was known as Greater Greece. Now, the eurozone crisis has led to sharp spending cuts and, with an economy based on public sector wages, Sicily is being called Italy's Greece. The central government fears the region's debt of more than $6 billion could further endanger the country's financial stability.

Worried about contagion, the Rome government is dictating on Sicily tough bailout conditions similar to those international lenders imposed on Greece.

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World
4:08 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Whistleblower Law Unlikely To Help Italy's Migrants

African migrants fired from Italian factories in the north have joined the swelling ranks of people searching for agriculture work in the south. Originally from Burkina Faso, Karim Suruku (right) is a migrant worker in Calabria in southern Italy. At left is Amidou Denamidou.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 6:19 pm

Italy recently approved a decree that would grant work and residence permits to migrants who blow the whistle on bosses who exploit them in the economy illegally.

But in places like the southern region of Calabria, the law has little chance of being applied at a time when the economic crisis increasingly fosters an illegal, underground economy.

The main activity in Calabria is agriculture. Thanks to vast citrus fields, it's one of the major stops for migratory workers, mostly Africans without legal documents.

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Europe
6:27 am
Sat July 7, 2012

'Super Mario' Challenges The Idea Of Who's An Italian

Italian forward Mario Balotelli celebrates after scoring the second goal during Italy's Euro 2012 football championships semifinal match against Germany, June 28, at the National Stadium in Warsaw.
Francisco Leong AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 7, 2012 7:33 pm

The Euro 2012 soccer championship ended last weekend with Spain's defeat of Italy. But many sportswriters singled out the second-place team as the tournament's unexpected surprise.

The star of Team Italy is the Sicilian-born son of Ghanaian immigrants, raised by an Italian adoptive family — and now Mario Balotelli is changing the notion itself of what constitutes Italian-ness.

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Europe
7:58 am
Sat June 23, 2012

Euro Mini-Summit Takes New Focus

Originally published on Sat June 23, 2012 11:07 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. With the eurozone crisis well into its third year, the leaders of the four major eurozone countries tried once again in Rome to reach agreement on how to try to salvage the single currency. For the first time, the focus shifted away from austerity to growth and job creation. But as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, agreement was not reached on how to end the sovereign debt crisis.

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Europe
8:03 am
Mon June 18, 2012

In Greece, The Election May Have Been The Easy Part

Two men read newspaper headlines in Athens on Monday as conservative Greek lawmakers raced to form a government a day after parliamentary elections.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 8:38 am

European leaders and global markets expressed relief after Greek conservatives' narrow parliamentary election victory over leftists who had vowed to ditch the tough austerity terms of an international bailout.

But the next government will have to deal with a polarized society and with widespread anger at wage and job cutbacks that have targeted the middle class and spared an entrenched political and business elite.

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NPR Story
7:48 am
Sat June 16, 2012

Voters To Decide Outcome Of Current Greek Drama

Street art by Bleeps.gr are allegories of the effects of the economic crisis on ordinary Greeks.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Originally published on Sat June 16, 2012 7:53 pm

Debt-burdened Greeks go to the polls Sunday to choose between an establishment party, and continuing harsh austerity measures, or a leftist party that vows to replace the current bailout deal with less punishing conditions.

But many Greeks are aware that whatever the outcome, they face years of hardship in a rapidly unraveling society.

A recent TV news report on medicine shortages illustrated the anguish rippling through the country. The piercing screams of a woman in a pharmacy can be heard as she shouts, "Where am I going to find my medication?"

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Religion
5:57 am
Sat June 2, 2012

Conspiracies Swirl As Vatican Scandal Engulfs Rome

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives for his weekly general audience on May 30 at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 2, 2012 7:13 pm

The scandal over leaked documents that has been engulfing the Vatican is the biggest breach of confidence and security at the Holy See in recent memory.

Known as Vatileaks, the crisis has shed light on a Vatican gripped by intrigue and power struggles like a Renaissance court.

Vatileaks erupted into a full-blown scandal with the publication two weeks ago of a book of Vatican documents alleging corruption and conspiracies among cardinals.

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Europe
3:45 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

In Fiery Protest, Italian Museum Sets Art Ablaze

Antonio Manfredi, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Casoria, Italy, burns an artwork by French artist Severine Bourguignon. Manfredi is burning the museum's works to protest deep cuts to the arts.
Roberta Basile AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 8:21 pm

Casoria is a small town in the Naples hinterland known mostly as a hotbed of the local mafia. But last month, it achieved a different kind of notoriety when Antonio Manfredi, director of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) launched his provocative challenge to the Italian Ministry of Culture.

Manfredi's "art war" consists of setting works of art on fire to protest cuts to Italy's arts budget. He's pledged to incinerate two or three pieces of art each week from a museum collection housing about 1,000 exhibits.

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Europe
5:18 pm
Tue May 8, 2012

Greece's Left Wing Tries To Form A Government

Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, speaks to the press in Athens on Tuesday, May 8, after the Greek president gave him a mandate to form a government. Tsipras has three days to put together a coalition. An attempt by a conservative party has already failed.
Louisa Gouliamaki AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 7:07 pm

In debt-burdened Greece, the president has given a left-wing coalition a mandate to form a new government, but it faces an uphill battle following an election in which no single party was dominant.

The Coalition of the Radical Left, known as Syriza, vehemently opposes the austerity program imposed by international creditors.

Syriza finished second in the vote Sunday, when Greek voters decisively rejected the tough conditions for international bailouts.

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Europe
4:18 pm
Sun May 6, 2012

Austerity Loses As Greece's Fringe Parties Win Big

Members of the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party celebrate in Thessaloniki on Sunday. Golden Dawn is now set to enter parliament for the first time since the end of the military junta in 1974.
Sakis Mitrolidis AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 6, 2012 4:26 pm

According to exit polls, angry Greek voters have overwhelmingly punished the two major parties that endorsed draconian international loan agreements.

There is no front-runner in sight, but the fringe parties on the left and the right that strongly oppose the bailout terms have benefited the most.

The socialist PASOK and the conservative New Democracy parties that have alternated for four decades — and uneasily co-governed for the last six months — are imploding.

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Europe
6:51 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Angry Greek Voters May Lash Out In Sunday's Polls

A member of the Golden Dawn far-right political organization takes part in a demonstration in Peraia, a suburb outside Thessaloniki, on April 26. Some polls indicate that in the national elections May 6, Golden Dawn may surpass the 3 percent threshold needed to enter Parliament.
Sakis Mitrolidis AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 11:50 am

Greeks go to the polls Sunday in a climate of intense voter anger at the politicians they blame for turning their country into an international economic pariah. Protest votes could fill Parliament with an array of new parties, and most surprising is the growing popularity of the xenophobic Golden Dawn, which espouses a neo-Nazi ideology.

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Europe
3:27 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

Peace, Justice Elude Rape Victims Of Bosnian War

Bosnian Muslim women hold posters with the names of the missing during a protest at the U.N. office in Sarajevo in 2008. Hundreds of wartime rape victims were protesting the decision of the U.N. war crimes tribunal to reject the prosecution's request for rape charges to be added against two Bosnian Serbs who were on trial for other war crimes.
Hidajet Delic AP

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:50 am

Nearly two decades after the Bosnian War ended, thousands of Bosnian women who were victims of sexual violence are still seeking justice.

Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, commemorated the 20th anniversary of the start of the war this month with a young people's choir performing John Lennon's song "Give Peace a Chance." Row after row of empty red chairs marked the more than 11,500 people who died during the siege of the capital.

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Europe
6:22 am
Sat April 21, 2012

Amid Europe's Debt Crisis, A Sharp Rise In Suicides

Mourners gather at the spot in front of the Greek parliament in Athens where 77-year-old retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas shot and killed himself on April 4. Christoulas left a note saying he did not want to end up scrounging for food in garbage bins.
Simela Pantzartzi EPA/Landov

Originally published on Sat April 21, 2012 8:47 pm

The eurozone crisis has been under way for three years and has led to sharp welfare cutbacks and a credit crunch throughout the continent.

But one of the most serious effects of the financial crisis has been an alarming spike in suicides in debt-burdened Greece, Ireland and Italy.

Last Wednesday, about a 1,000 people gathered in central Rome for a candle-lit vigil to honor Italy's economic victims. Statics show that from 2009 and 2010, some 400 small-business owners took their lives.

There have already been 23 crisis-related suicides since January.

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Europe
3:28 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Two Decades After Siege, Sarajevo Still A City Divided

Twenty years ago this week, the Bosnian war began with the siege of Sarajevo, the capital. In this photo, smoke billows from a building in downtown Sarajevo, April 22, 1992, after a Serbian mortar attack.
H. Delich AP

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 10:30 am

April 6 marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnian war and the siege of Sarajevo. It was the longest siege of a capital city in modern history, and produced the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.

Over three-and-a-half years of war, 100,000 people were killed, and half of Bosnia's population of 4.4 million — made up of a plurality of Muslims — fled their homes.

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Europe
3:11 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Italian Law Pits Older Workers Against Younger Ones

Members of the Italian metalworkers trade union Fiom-CGIL hold a placard reading "Enough now!" during a protest in Rome on March 9.
Filippo Monteforte AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 9:06 am

Italy's technocrat prime minister, Mario Monti, came to office less than five months ago as the country's finances were in a tailspin. And now he could be facing his toughest challenge yet — pushing through changes to labor regulations.

Italian labor rules ensure job security for older workers but can condemn the younger generation to a series of insecure, temporary jobs.

Since taking office, Monti has pushed through a round of tough austerity measures, budget cuts, pension reform and some deregulation.

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