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Fresh Cold Snap – Christmas Woes

  • December 19th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

winter-storm-nasa1.jpgA fresh cold snap with snow across much of Europe is threatening visits home for thousands of would-be travellers … though one Australian in Europe, Julian Assange, has found a Winter refuge.

BITTER COLD

Heavy falls more customary for later in the Winter, around February, have arrived for a second round of crisis and difficulty, in a fortnight.

Major airports closed or anticipating long delays include Charles de Gaulle, Gatwick, Heath Row and Frankfurt; thousands of would-be travellers now waiting it out in hotels, or camping on terminal floors.

Warnings have gone out to motorists to beware icy roads, and avoid travelling where possible.

In London, four Qantas flights home were delayed late on Saturday, three eventually leaving, with several flights from various airlines held up on their way in to Europe, diksrupting the pattern of services overall.
WARM RECEPTION FOR ASSANGE

Also in the United Kingdom, the Australian man billed as a former computer hacker, turned leaker of US diplomatic cables, Julian Assange of Wikileaks, has made it in time to much more cosy accommodation than a prison cell.

Supporters cheered as a  court overturned the appeal of Swedish prosecutors, against his release on bail, to await extradition proceedings they have started – hoping to take him to Stockholm to face charges of sexual assault.

He’d been remanded in custody, and some last minute delays occurred as legal friends and supporters, several compatriots among them, scrambled to produce £200,000 (A$314440, xe.com, 19.12.10)  for his release.

Before going to stay with friends at a large mansion out-of-town, he told a crowd outside the court, his experience “in a solitary confinement cell at the bottom of a Victorian prison” had made him think more about others being held in solitary around the world – and how they might be helped.

The Australian Federal police announced on the weekend (18.12.10) Julian Assange was not under investigation  by  Australian authorities and was not suspected by them of committing a crime.

Initially government leaders suggested that his passport might be confiscated because of unlawful conduct, a position contradicted after the Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, declared the presumption of innocence would have to apply.

See also, EUAustralia Online: “Rudd defends Assange’s rights”, (9.12.10); “The hunt after Wikileaks …”, 8.12.10; “Rough Weekend Weather”, 5.12.10.

Reference

RTE News, Dublin, “Motorists warned of dangerously icy roads”. 19.12.10. http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/1219/weather.html, 19.12.10).

David Levitz, Mark Hallam (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters), Kyle James, “Heavy snow grounds thousands of European flights, stranding passengers”, Deutsche Welle, Bonn, 18.12.10. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6356336,00.html, (19.12.10).

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