UNEMPLOYMENT: WAITING FOR ELDERS TO RETIRE
Crowds in France are demonstrating against the proposed construction of a new airport near Nantes.
Germany / Greece: Searching For Family Members - More and more refugee families are being split apart when they get to Europe. The Red Cross is trying to help, but it's a daunting task. It can sometimes take months, even years, to re-unite families. Normally, refugees must apply for asylum in the European country where they first arrived -- as outlined in the "Dublin II" EU agreement. But most of the refugee camps in Greece and Italy are overflowing -- and refugees there often risk being deported. Some try to move illeagaly to other EU countries, and to apply for asylum there. But there's no guarantee that their applications will be approved, or whether family members still in their home country will be able to join them. France: Protests Against Mega-Airport - In France, large crowds have been demonstrating for months against the proposed construction of a huge new airport near Nantes. The project is aimed at beefing up the regional economy, and strengthening transportation ties with the rest of France. The airport has been on the drawing board for five decades -- but the project has taken on a more concrete shape over the last ten years. Over the same period, the public protests have increased. The demonstrators include environmentalists, and farmers who don't want to give up their land. The protesters have occupied a large tract of land near the site, and have resisted efforts by the police to remove them. Construction has now been postponed, and the government has commissioned a study to see whether it might be better to simply expand the current regional airport at Nantes. Poland: The Healing Power of the Whispering Witches - An area in eastern Poland, not far from the border with Belarus is home to the so-called "whispering witches." They are healers who are very much in demand among the local residents. There are about a dozen of the witches -- and their rituals include the use of prayers, medicinal herbs, wax, bread and water. At times, some of the more prominent witches may have long lines of people waiting outside their houses -- "patients" who come from all over Poland. Sometimes, those who visit the witches are desperate; this may be their last hope. The witches consider themselves close to the Orthodox Church, and are said to donate the fees they receive to the church. Spain: Working Through Retirement - In Spain, more and more people are working longer, well past the time when they could have retired. It's particularly common among the self-employed. In fact, the number has risen by 25-percent over the past few years. Farmers, especially, feel compelled to keep working -- in part, because government retirement benefits are so low. Unlike their counterparts in the rest of Europe, few people in Spain have been paying into private pension funds. And future retirees will likely receive even smaller pensions from the government. The retirement fund is essentially bankrupt -- because during the international financial crisis, the government raided the fund, and used the money elsewhere in the budget.