EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

Rough Weekend Weather, For Picassos, FIFA, And The watch On Terror …

  • December 5th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

winter-storm-nasa.jpgTragic weather conditions, stolen paintings, recriminations over the FIFA World Cup decision, a terror threat to NATO  …


Sixty people are reported dead in freezing conditions with snow and ice in Northern Europe, and flooding in the Balkans.

Half of those deaths occurred in Poland, experiencing temperatures still in the area of minus-15 degrees, bearing the brunt of harsh conditions that have played havoc with air and rail services, and seen thousands stranded on the highways.

Attempts to go ahead with League football games for the weekend ended with some played out in a snowfall, most others cancelled.

The worse-than-average conditions for the early Winter are spread across a wide arc from Moscow through Western France.

In Southern Europe, heavy rain has caused flooding of rivers with thousands now evacuated from their homes in Albania, Bosnia and Serbia.

As it all goes on, meteorologists are counting down to a tally on temperatures and conditions, worldwide, for 2010 – expected to show that with climate change, it’s been, nevertheless, among the warmest years on record.


Police in Spain have been called out to find a Picasso painting stolen a week ago from a warehouse, along with 27 other valuable works of art.

The objects – paintings and sculpture – were driven off in the vehicle in which they’d been stored, after their return to Spain from an exhibition in Cologne.

The theft was announced on Thursday, coinciding with the uncovering this week (1.12.10), of a hoard of 271 Picassos, handed over to authorities by one Pierre Le Guennec, a retired electrician who said they’d been given to him by the artist.

picasso-found-2.jpgMr Le Guennec, who lives near Cannes, says he did work on security systems for Pablo Picasso and his wife Jacqueline, at their homes on the Cote d’Azur … and was handed the treasure trove in a number of installments as gifts.

He says he kept them stored in a garage for most of the last 40 years.

The authenticity of his collection, mostly not previously heard of, has not as yet been challenged.

It includes sketches, photographic studies for known works, some cubist collages thought to be worth as much as EU40-million, and other pictures.

He is considered safe from any accusation of theft, under statutes of limitations, but police investigating the case have spoken of a possible charge of handling stolen goods.

The Spanish master was prolific, turning out thousands of pictures, generating myths that in his fame, he might settle a bill with the flick of a wrist – producing a sketch for the creditor.

See images / story:


world-cup.jpgThe decision by the FIFA executive to give the Football World Cup to Russia for 2018, and Qatar for 2022, has continued to draw fire – with no official responses from the Football body itself.

The outcome of the bidding was a cold shoulder for the “Anglo-Saxon” contenders; the relative minnows in world soccer Australia and the United States, but also the country that invented the game, England.

All had met, very clearly, the objective criteria set up by the Football Federation  – climate, facilities, finances, and so on  — but were trumped in the first round of voting (six votes total among them); officials from the three saying it appeared the decision was stitched up behind closed doors, well before the “transparent”, and expensive, presentations took place.

In the case of Australia and England at least, officials said they’d been told they would get certain votes, which were not delivered in the event.

The episode has generated calls for a new system, taking the choice away from the 24-member executive body, now compromised by imputations against some of its members, already accused of taking bribes before this year’s deliberations…

The General Secretary of the Football Association in England, Alex Horne, said he was “hugely underwhelmed” by the selection process for host countries for the World Cup.

“FIFA do a lot of good work … but we feel hugely let down”, he said.


For those, after FIFA, still believing Ned Kelly is dead, consider the band of alleged wild men rounded up by police in four countries — suspected of planning attacks on NATO facilities in Belgium.

Austrian police this weekend detained a Chechen refugee at Vienna airport, thought to be involved in the network.

nato-flags1.jpgLate last month, in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, eleven suspects were brought in: a Chechen citizen and six Belgian-Moroccan men at Antwerp, three Dutch men in Amsterdam and a Russian at Aachen.

(Another group of 15 was detained in Brussels on intelligence of violent acts being planned in Afghanistan and Iraq).

Establishments of the North Atlantic alliance include the military headquarters at Mons, and the policy and administrative complex near Brussels airport; well barricaded against intruders on foot, though also screening-through a daily flow of civilian workers, military personnel and visitors.


Bio.true story, “Unknown Pablo Picasso Works Discovered”, 3.12.10. Picasso Biography (2010), The Biography Channel website., (5.12.10).

Deutsche Welle, Bonn, “Austrian police arrest Chechen terror suspect”, 4.12.10.,,6295850,00.html, (5.12.10).

Duncan Gardham, “Europe-wide terrorism arrests after plans for attack on Belgium”, Daily Telegraph, London, 23.11.10., (5.12.10).

Jamie Jackson, “Football Association condemn Fifa as ‘opaque’ after 2018 bid humiliation”, The Observer, 5.12.10., (5.12.10).

Sarah Lyall, “Europe Jolted by Extremes of Weather”, NYT, NY, 3.12.10., (5.12.10).

Philippe Siuberski, “Belgium rounds up 26 in anti-terror raids”, AFP, Paris, 23.11.10., (5.12.10).

Alastair Sooke, “Picasso gift claim not really far-fetched”, SMH, Sydney, 4.12.10., (5.12.10).

The Press Association (UK), London, “Europe hit by more harsh weather”, 5.12.10., 5.12.10).


Winter storm Europe 2005 – nasa; NATO headquarters Brussels