Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Week two

I was disappointed to have to come back to the hole that was CIARUS. Having to put up with insolent twelve-year-olds was annoying enough for two days, but the thought of a whole week...........

Nevertheless, come back I did. And every night, the chaperones would tell the kids to go off to bed at 10, then retire for the evening, leaving us to suffer with children running the halls all night, kicking balls against the wall, jumping off beds, screaming and yelling, and throwing things on passersby below. Not once did a chaperone come up to look in on their kids. And more than a few people complained to no avail.

Classes were made somewhat better than Rome, in that the room in which classes were held was larger, more open, had more writing space, and, most importantly, was air-conditioned. Classes were pretty interesting, with some discussion centered around the field trips we took - to the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights - but the highlight was the opportunity to hear arguments before the court for a case in which 2 former KGB agents had been fired by the Lithuanian government for whom they'd worked for their KGB association - 8 years later. One of the most intriguing questions asked by the judges (the ECHR sits in panels of 7 or 9, depending on the circumstances of the case) was why it had taken Lithuania so long to fire the employees, when (a) the government had known of their KGB involvement from the beginning, and (b) at least one had taken an oath of loyalty to Lithuania. The decision comes out in September, and I'll be watching to see what happens.

We made it to the European Parliament shortly after the new head of the European Union, Silvio Berlusconi, had slighted a German representative. The representative had been speaking on a mundane topic when he had been interrupted by Berlusconi, who immediately commented the German representative would make a great candidate for concentration camp guard in a new movie being filmed in Italy. The resulting flap was the talk of the Parliament for the entire day, and the lead story on the news in three countries that night.

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