Sylvia Poggioli

Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's foreign desk and reports from Rome, Italy; the Balkans; other parts of Europe; and the Middle East. Poggioli can be heard on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Since joining NPR's foreign desk in 1982, Poggioli's on-air analysis has encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and noteworthy coverage from Prague. In early 1991, she supplemented NPR's Gulf War coverage, reporting from London on European reactions to events surrounding the war.

In 2004, Poggioli was the inaugural recipient of the WBUR Foreign Correspondent Award, presented to an outstanding public radio foreign correspondent. In 2002, Poggioli received the Welles Hangen Award for Distinquished Journalism from Brown University. In 2000, Poggioli received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Brandeis University. In 1994, Poggioli was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences "for her distinctive, cultivated and authoritative reports on 'ethnic cleansing' in Bosnia." In 1990, Poggioli spent an academic year at Harvard University as a research fellow at Harvard University's Center for Press, Politics, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government.

From 1971 to 1986, Poggioli served as an editor on the English-language desk for the Ansa News Agency in Italy. Prior to her duties as editor, she worked at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. She was actively involved with women's film and theater groups.

Poggioli's reports on the Bosnian conflict earned two awards in 1993: the George Foster Peabody Award and the Edward Weintal Journalism Prize. She also won two awards in 1994, the National Women's Political Caucus/Radcliffe College Exceptional Merit Media Award and the Silver Angel Excellence in the Media Award. Poggioli was part of the NPR team that won the 2000 Overseas Press Club award for coverage of NATO's 1999 air war against Yugoslavia.

The daughter of Italian anti-fascists who were forced to flee Italy under Mussolini, Poggioli was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She graduated from Harvard College in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in romance languages and literature. She later studied in Italy under a Fulbright Scholarship.

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12:25pm

Thu October 11, 2012
Europe

With A Database, Germany Tracks Rise Of Neo-Nazis

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 5:13 pm

Neo-Nazis and their sympathizers march on Feb. 13 to commemorate the World War II firebombing of Dresden, Germany, by Allied planes. Concerns about far-right extremism have grown in Germany after the discovery last year of an extreme far-right cell believed to have carried out a decade-long crime spree, including the murder of 10 people, mainly Turkish shopkeepers, bank robberies and bombs.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

The spread of neo-Nazi influence in Germany came to light fully last year with the shocking discovery of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell responsible for the worst right-wing violence since World War II.

At least nine people of migrant origin were murdered, and there were bomb attacks and bank robberies.

In response, Germany last month established the first centralized neo-Nazi database, similar to those that existed for decades for Islamic and leftist extremists.

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3:26am

Thu October 11, 2012
Europe

Vatican II: A Half-Century Later, A Mixed Legacy

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 8:23 am

Thousands of faithful Catholics carry torches in a procession in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on Oct. 11, 1962, the opening day of the historic Second Vatican Council. Over a three-year period, more than 2,000 bishops from around the world issued 16 landmark documents, which championed a more inclusive, less hierarchical and open church.
Girolamo Di Majo AP

At Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, 50 years ago this week, the newly elected pontiff stunned the world by calling the first Catholic Church Council in nearly a century — the Second Vatican Council, or what's known as Vatican II.

Pope John XXIII called for the institution's renewal and more interaction with the modern world.

As a result of Vatican II, the Catholic Church opened its windows onto the modern world, updated the liturgy, gave a larger role to laypeople, introduced the concept of religious freedom and started a dialogue with other religions.

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2:58pm

Tue October 9, 2012
Europe

German Catholics' Path To Heaven Comes With Taxes

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 11:02 pm

Bavarian bishops walk in a procession to the Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers near Bad Staffelstein, Germany, in May. A decree by the German bishops' conference warns that German Catholics who do not pay a state church tax will be denied sacraments.
Daniel Karmann EPA/Landov

Germany's bishops have a clear message for the country's 25 million Catholics: The road to heaven requires more than faith and good intentions; it requires tax payments, too.

Last month, German bishops warned that if members of the Catholic Church don't pay the country's church tax, they'll be denied the sacraments — including baptisms, weddings and funerals.

In increasingly secular Europe, Germany is one of the few countries where the state collects a special levy from tax-registered believers and hands it over to three organized faiths.

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7:54am

Sun September 23, 2012
Europe

Italy's Fiat Woes A Symptom Of Industrial Malady

Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 1:22 pm

Automaker Fiat threatened to shutter operations in Italy.
AFP Getty Images

Automaker Fiat announced its commitment to remain in Italy after a meeting Saturday between the company's CEO and the country's president.

Fiat had threatened to shut down its operations in Italy unless it received additional state assistance. The crisis came at a time the entire country is undergoing a steep decline across all industrial sectors.

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5:39pm

Wed September 12, 2012
U.S.

Sharp Differences Dull U.S. Influence On Euro Crisis

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 5:58 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The eurozone crisis has weighed heavily on the global economy and it will remain a central foreign-policy challenge for President Obama or Mitt Romney, whichever man wins in November. The Obama administration has repeatedly urged eurozone countries to shift their focus from austerity to growth. This week, we're focusing on foreign policy issues facing the next administration.

And NPR's Sylvia Poggioli has this story on the eurozone.

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4:54am

Sat August 18, 2012
Europe

Italian Yacht Owners Weigh Anchor To Dodge Taxes

Originally published on Sat August 18, 2012 8:24 pm

The quayside at Compagnia della Vela in Venice, Italy, is largely deserted. Authorities have targeted yacht owners as part of a crackdown on tax evasion, and many boat owners have sailed to other countries in the Mediterranean.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Italy has a public debt of nearly 2 trillion euros, and it's cracking down on its notoriously wily tax evaders. Owners of luxury yachts are a prime target, with tax police launching dockside raids to see how individual tax files line up with owning and maintaining an expensive boat.

But yachts are mobile assets. In response, many boat owners are simply weighing anchor and setting course for more tax-friendly Mediterranean marinas.

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5:03am

Tue July 31, 2012
Europe

Italy Worries Sicily's Woes Could Have Ripple Effect

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 5:09 pm

Raffaele Lombardo, the governor of Sicily, speaks to reporters after his meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in Rome last week. Lombardo has been accused of having ties to the Mafia in Sicily.
Alessandro Bianchi Reuters/Landov

In antiquity, Sicily was known as Greater Greece. Now, the eurozone crisis has led to sharp spending cuts and, with an economy based on public sector wages, Sicily is being called Italy's Greece. The central government fears the region's debt of more than $6 billion could further endanger the country's financial stability.

Worried about contagion, the Rome government is dictating on Sicily tough bailout conditions similar to those international lenders imposed on Greece.

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4:08pm

Tue July 24, 2012
World

Whistleblower Law Unlikely To Help Italy's Migrants

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 6:19 pm

African migrants fired from Italian factories in the north have joined the swelling ranks of people searching for agriculture work in the south. Originally from Burkina Faso, Karim Suruku (right) is a migrant worker in Calabria in southern Italy. At left is Amidou Denamidou.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Italy recently approved a decree that would grant work and residence permits to migrants who blow the whistle on bosses who exploit them in the economy illegally.

But in places like the southern region of Calabria, the law has little chance of being applied at a time when the economic crisis increasingly fosters an illegal, underground economy.

The main activity in Calabria is agriculture. Thanks to vast citrus fields, it's one of the major stops for migratory workers, mostly Africans without legal documents.

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7:54am

Sat July 14, 2012
Europe

Italians Commemorate Costa Concordia Wreck

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 4:54 pm

Work has begun to remove the tons of rocky reef embedded into the Concordia cruise ship's hull, off Giglio Island in Italy. The plan is to eventually tow the wreck away from the island in one piece.
Gregorio Borgia AP

Last January, the captain of the Italian mega-cruise ship Costa Concordia committed an apparent act of maritime bravado a few yards from the shore of a Tuscan island. Thirty people were killed, and two are still missing.

Six months after one of the biggest passenger shipwrecks in recent history, relatives of the dead attended a memorial service Friday near the site of the disaster.

The solemn notes of Mozart's Requiem echoed through the small church of Saints Lorenzo and Mamiliano on the island of Giglio.

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6:27am

Sat July 7, 2012
Europe

'Super Mario' Challenges The Idea Of Who's An Italian

Originally published on Sat July 7, 2012 7:33 pm

Italian forward Mario Balotelli celebrates after scoring the second goal during Italy's Euro 2012 football championships semifinal match against Germany, June 28, at the National Stadium in Warsaw.
Francisco Leong AFP/Getty Images

The Euro 2012 soccer championship ended last weekend with Spain's defeat of Italy. But many sportswriters singled out the second-place team as the tournament's unexpected surprise.

The star of Team Italy is the Sicilian-born son of Ghanaian immigrants, raised by an Italian adoptive family — and now Mario Balotelli is changing the notion itself of what constitutes Italian-ness.

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7:58am

Sat June 23, 2012
Europe

Euro Mini-Summit Takes New Focus

Originally published on Sat June 23, 2012 11:07 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. With the eurozone crisis well into its third year, the leaders of the four major eurozone countries tried once again in Rome to reach agreement on how to try to salvage the single currency. For the first time, the focus shifted away from austerity to growth and job creation. But as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, agreement was not reached on how to end the sovereign debt crisis.

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8:03am

Mon June 18, 2012
Europe

In Greece, The Election May Have Been The Easy Part

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 8:38 am

Two men read newspaper headlines in Athens on Monday as conservative Greek lawmakers raced to form a government a day after parliamentary elections.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

European leaders and global markets expressed relief after Greek conservatives' narrow parliamentary election victory over leftists who had vowed to ditch the tough austerity terms of an international bailout.

But the next government will have to deal with a polarized society and with widespread anger at wage and job cutbacks that have targeted the middle class and spared an entrenched political and business elite.

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7:48am

Sat June 16, 2012
Europe

Voters To Decide Outcome Of Current Greek Drama

Originally published on Sat June 16, 2012 7:53 pm

Street art by Bleeps.gr are allegories of the effects of the economic crisis on ordinary Greeks.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

Debt-burdened Greeks go to the polls Sunday to choose between an establishment party, and continuing harsh austerity measures, or a leftist party that vows to replace the current bailout deal with less punishing conditions.

But many Greeks are aware that whatever the outcome, they face years of hardship in a rapidly unraveling society.

A recent TV news report on medicine shortages illustrated the anguish rippling through the country. The piercing screams of a woman in a pharmacy can be heard as she shouts, "Where am I going to find my medication?"

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6:51am

Fri June 15, 2012
Europe

Crisis Exposes Gaps In Greek Electorate

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 7:35 pm

Torn Greek (left) and European Union flags fly at the entrance of an abandoned factory in the industrial zone of Komotini about 500 miles from Athens. Sunday's parliamentary election will go a long way toward determining whether Greece stays in the EU.
Petros Giannakouris AP

Greeks are headed back to the polls Sunday after last month's inconclusive parliamentary election left the country without a governing coalition. And like the last time, people are polarized over harsh austerity measures imposed on Greece as part of a large European economic bailout.

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5:57am

Sat June 2, 2012
Religion

Conspiracies Swirl As Vatican Scandal Engulfs Rome

Originally published on Sat June 2, 2012 7:13 pm

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives for his weekly general audience on May 30 at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

The scandal over leaked documents that has been engulfing the Vatican is the biggest breach of confidence and security at the Holy See in recent memory.

Known as Vatileaks, the crisis has shed light on a Vatican gripped by intrigue and power struggles like a Renaissance court.

Vatileaks erupted into a full-blown scandal with the publication two weeks ago of a book of Vatican documents alleging corruption and conspiracies among cardinals.

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3:45pm

Mon May 21, 2012
Europe

In Fiery Protest, Italian Museum Sets Art Ablaze

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 8:21 pm

Antonio Manfredi, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Casoria, Italy, burns an artwork by French artist Severine Bourguignon. Manfredi is burning the museum's works to protest deep cuts to the arts.
Roberta Basile AFP/Getty Images

Casoria is a small town in the Naples hinterland known mostly as a hotbed of the local mafia. But last month, it achieved a different kind of notoriety when Antonio Manfredi, director of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) launched his provocative challenge to the Italian Ministry of Culture.

Manfredi's "art war" consists of setting works of art on fire to protest cuts to Italy's arts budget. He's pledged to incinerate two or three pieces of art each week from a museum collection housing about 1,000 exhibits.

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5:18pm

Tue May 8, 2012
Europe

Greece's Left Wing Tries To Form A Government

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 7:07 pm

Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, speaks to the press in Athens on Tuesday, May 8, after the Greek president gave him a mandate to form a government. Tsipras has three days to put together a coalition. An attempt by a conservative party has already failed.
Louisa Gouliamaki AFP/Getty Images

In debt-burdened Greece, the president has given a left-wing coalition a mandate to form a new government, but it faces an uphill battle following an election in which no single party was dominant.

The Coalition of the Radical Left, known as Syriza, vehemently opposes the austerity program imposed by international creditors.

Syriza finished second in the vote Sunday, when Greek voters decisively rejected the tough conditions for international bailouts.

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4:26pm

Sun May 6, 2012
Europe

Austerity Loses As Greece's Fringe Parties Win Big

Members of the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party celebrate in Thessaloniki on Sunday. Golden Dawn is now set to enter parliament for the first time since the end of the military junta in 1974.
Sakis Mitrolidis AFP/Getty Images

According to exit polls, angry Greek voters have overwhelmingly punished the two major parties that endorsed draconian international loan agreements.

There is no front-runner in sight, but the fringe parties on the left and the right that strongly oppose the bailout terms have benefited the most.

The socialist PASOK and the conservative New Democracy parties that have alternated for four decades — and uneasily co-governed for the last six months — are imploding.

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6:19am

Thu May 3, 2012
Europe

Angry Greek Voters May Lash Out In Sunday's Polls

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 11:50 am

A member of the Golden Dawn far-right political organization takes part in a demonstration in Peraia, a suburb outside Thessaloniki, on April 26. Some polls indicate that in the national elections May 6, Golden Dawn may surpass the 3 percent threshold needed to enter Parliament.
Sakis Mitrolidis AFP/Getty Images

Greeks go to the polls Sunday in a climate of intense voter anger at the politicians they blame for turning their country into an international economic pariah. Protest votes could fill Parliament with an array of new parties, and most surprising is the growing popularity of the xenophobic Golden Dawn, which espouses a neo-Nazi ideology.

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3:27pm

Mon April 30, 2012
Europe

Peace, Justice Elude Rape Victims Of Bosnian War

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:50 am

Bosnian Muslim women hold posters with the names of the missing during a protest at the U.N. office in Sarajevo in 2008. Hundreds of wartime rape victims were protesting the decision of the U.N. war crimes tribunal to reject the prosecution's request for rape charges to be added against two Bosnian Serbs who were on trial for other war crimes.
Hidajet Delic AP

Nearly two decades after the Bosnian War ended, thousands of Bosnian women who were victims of sexual violence are still seeking justice.

Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, commemorated the 20th anniversary of the start of the war this month with a young people's choir performing John Lennon's song "Give Peace a Chance." Row after row of empty red chairs marked the more than 11,500 people who died during the siege of the capital.

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6:22am

Sat April 21, 2012
Europe

Amid Europe's Debt Crisis, A Sharp Rise In Suicides

Originally published on Sat April 21, 2012 8:47 pm

Mourners gather at the spot in front of the Greek parliament in Athens where 77-year-old retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas shot and killed himself on April 4. Christoulas left a note saying he did not want to end up scrounging for food in garbage bins.
Simela Pantzartzi EPA/Landov

The eurozone crisis has been under way for three years and has led to sharp welfare cutbacks and a credit crunch throughout the continent.

But one of the most serious effects of the financial crisis has been an alarming spike in suicides in debt-burdened Greece, Ireland and Italy.

Last Wednesday, about a 1,000 people gathered in central Rome for a candle-lit vigil to honor Italy's economic victims. Statics show that from 2009 and 2010, some 400 small-business owners took their lives.

There have already been 23 crisis-related suicides since January.

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3:28am

Thu April 5, 2012
Europe

Two Decades After Siege, Sarajevo Still A City Divided

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 10:30 am

Twenty years ago this week, the Bosnian war began with the siege of Sarajevo, the capital. In this photo, smoke billows from a building in downtown Sarajevo, April 22, 1992, after a Serbian mortar attack.
H. Delich AP

April 6 marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnian war and the siege of Sarajevo. It was the longest siege of a capital city in modern history, and produced the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.

Over three-and-a-half years of war, 100,000 people were killed, and half of Bosnia's population of 4.4 million — made up of a plurality of Muslims — fled their homes.

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3:11pm

Wed April 4, 2012
Europe

Italian Law Pits Older Workers Against Younger Ones

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 9:06 am

Members of the Italian metalworkers trade union Fiom-CGIL hold a placard reading "Enough now!" during a protest in Rome on March 9.
Filippo Monteforte AFP/Getty Images

Italy's technocrat prime minister, Mario Monti, came to office less than five months ago as the country's finances were in a tailspin. And now he could be facing his toughest challenge yet — pushing through changes to labor regulations.

Italian labor rules ensure job security for older workers but can condemn the younger generation to a series of insecure, temporary jobs.

Since taking office, Monti has pushed through a round of tough austerity measures, budget cuts, pension reform and some deregulation.

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11:41am

Thu March 29, 2012
Europe

Vatican Leaks Raise Questions Over Finances

Italian financial police officers talk in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Recently leaked Vatican documents have raised questions about the Vatican's financial transactions.
Angelo Carconi AP

The Vatican has launched a rare criminal investigation to uncover who is behind leaks of highly sensitive documents that allege corruption and financial mismanagement in Vatican City.

The documents also shed light on purported infighting over the Vatican Bank's compliance with international money-laundering regulations.

A television show in late January on an independent network first revealed letters addressed last year to Pope Benedict XVI from the then-deputy governor of Vatican City, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.

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4:29am

Mon March 19, 2012
Europe

Greek Bailout Fuels Rise Of Extreme Politics

Policemen shout slogans during a demonstration of Greek security forces against the new austerity measures in Athens.
Aris Messinis AFP/Getty Images

With Greece entering its fifth year of recession and dealing with harsh austerity measures imposed as part of a eurozone bailout deal to save it from default, its society is in upheaval. Opinion polls suggest the old political system is collapsing, and extremist parties are gaining popularity ahead of spring elections.

At a recent protest in Athens, a large bronze bell tolled as thousands of policemen in full uniform marched solemnly through the streets. They ominously waved their handcuffs at Parliament, shouting, "Take your bailout plan and get out of here."

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6:23am

Sat March 17, 2012
Europe

Greek Bailout Is Accompanied By Greek Resentment

Originally published on Sun March 18, 2012 10:07 am

Shipyard workers demand their unpaid wages in central Athens on Thursday, the day that countries in the 17-nation euro zone formally approved a second bailout of $36.6 billion for Greece.
Petros Giannakouris AP

Debt-beleaguered Greece has secured a second international bailout. But for many Greeks, the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank — known as the "troika" — are a breach of their sovereignty.

A recent demonstration in central Athens was organized by a group of lawyers who claim the latest bailout agreement turns Greece into the ward of its international lenders.

Demonstrator Irini Lazana says it violates the country's legislative foundations.

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3:46pm

Fri March 9, 2012
Europe

A Health Care Tragedy Plays Out In A Greek Port

Near the port of Piraeus and about 10 miles west of Athens, Perama developed after the Greek civil war of the 1940s, growing prosperous in the 1980s thanks to the ship-repair industry.

But now, the once-bustling piers are deserted. A few rusting skeletons of unfinished boats stand outside empty, abandoned warehouses.

That's because business migrated to low-cost Turkey and China, and in a few short years, industry jobs dropped from 4,500 to 50.

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3:13pm

Thu March 8, 2012
Europe

With Cutbacks, Greeks Say Antiquities Are At Risk

Originally published on Thu March 8, 2012 6:11 pm

The entrance to the Museum of the Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece, is cordoned off last month, after two hooded thieves broke into the museum and made away with more than 70 ancient objects. The stolen loot included chariots, horses and a gold ring that was more than 3,000 years old. Greeks say such sites are vulnerable because of cutbacks that have reduced the number of guards.
Dimitris Papaioannoy EPA/Landov

At the Museum of the Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece, lush pine trees and olive groves are filled with chirping birds. The one guard at the site looks nervously at the few visitors.

There is still a sense of shock in Olympia following the theft last month at the museum, when armed robbers broke into the building and tied up the single guard on duty.

Archaeologist Kostantinos Antonopoulos says they ran off with 77 priceless objects, including votive figurines, chariots and horses.

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12:01am

Fri February 24, 2012
Europe

Portuguese Seeking Opportunities In Former Colonies

Protesters against government austerity measures march in front of the Finance Ministry in Lisbon, Portugal, earlier this month. The country's debt crisis has prompted Portuguese workers to look to their country's former colonies for jobs.
Patricia de Melo Moreira AFP/Getty Images

Portugal is burdened with such big debts that some are calling it "the next Greece." Unemployment is soaring, and the debt continues to rise, despite draconian austerity measures.

But Portugal has something Greece doesn't have: former colonies, rich in natural resources and in need of labor, both skilled and unskilled. And in a type of role reversal, some Portuguese are now traveling to those places in hopes of improving their lives.

Antonio Valerio, who is studying pharmaceutical science at a university, is among those who see no future in Portugal.

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2:58pm

Mon February 20, 2012
Europe

Portugal Plays By The Rules, But Economy Slumps

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 11:25 am

A once-bustling vegetable market in Lisbon is now beyond the reach of many Portuguese — a sign of their country's economic problems.
Sylvia Poggioli NPR

The eurozone crisis has focused attention on debt-burdened Greece spiraling into decline. Meanwhile, Portugal is seen as the international creditors' poster-child for obediently slashing spending and welfare benefits.

Nevertheless, the Portuguese national debt continues to grow, and the country is mired in recession and soaring unemployment.

The Portuguese national character has long been identified with Fado music. Raquel Freire, an activist with the local Occupy movement, says the melancholy style helps explain decades of resignation.

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