National Sport: Subway Fare-Dodging
France: A new record in fare-dodging - Fare-dodging is France's new national sport. Some fare-dodgers have even banded together to create a kind of insurance fund to cover the fines if they're caught. Many in France have lax attitudes toward buying tickets for public transport. There's even a famous photo of former president Jacques Chirac jumping over a subway turnstile many years ago. Meanwhile, some cash-strapped university students are paying seven euros each month into a fund that will cover fines rather than shell out for a subway pass. Fare-dodging is estimated to cost France's state-owned railway system around 300 million euros a year; for Paris's public transport system, it's a record 100 million. Bulgaria: A wall to ward off refugees - Bulgaria has announced plans to build a thirty-kilometer-long wall along the border to Turkey in order to stem the influx of Syrian refugees. Belgrade says the wall will force the refugees to enter the country through the border checkpoint at Svilengrad, where they will be officially registered. The wall is to be built near Elhovo, where most of the Syrian refugees are entering Bulgaria illegally. It's estimated the wall will cost 2.5 million euros. Several thousand asylum-seekers from Syria are already living in camps in Bulgaria under extremely poor conditions. Romania: Reviving the art of wine-making - Winemaking is a tradition that goes back thousands years in Romania. At various times in the past, up to 200,000 hectares of land in the region have been devoted to grape-growing. Today, pioneering young vintners in places like the Tarnava valley of Transylvania are trying to revive that tradition. European Union membership has been a boon for Romanian vintners. It's opened new markets and brought capital into the area. But local winemakers still face many obstacles, among them local bureaucrats, who often demand bribes in exchange for approving export licenses and awarding EU support and subsidies. Spain: Farmers take on an epidemic of theft - From fruit and vegetables to farming equipment - on farms in Spain, everything that's not nailed down is liable to be stolen. Many farmers have taken to sleeping on their fields to try to protect their property. Last year, nearly 20,000 thefts were reported on Spanish farms, and the thieves are growing ever bolder. Many work in gangs that are said to come from Eastern Europe, and they've built up criminal network to fence the stolen goods. Local farmers are at their wit's end. The police generally don't investigate smaller thefts and when they do step in, it's often too late to catch the culprit. More and more farmers are now joining forces to patrol their land.
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