Issue 145

JEWISH BULGARIA EXHIBITION IN SOFIA

The exhibition covers some of the mesmerising and atmospheric remains of Jewish heritage in Bulgaria: from the mosaics of a 2nd century synagogue in Plovdiv, to abandoned and crumbling synagogues and cemeteries, the only reminders of the Jewish presence in a number of cities where the community left, in 1949-1951.

Before Sofia, the Jewish Bulgaria exhibition by Anthony Georgieff was on in Prague and in London. The exhibition was organised with the support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and the Embassy of Israel in Bulgaria.

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THE CASE OF VIKTORIA MARINOVA

The brutal rape and murder of an young, attractive woman has exposed this country's deep problems with government, public trust in institutions, media freedoms, racism and gender issues, and the blurred line between journalism and political activism.

What happened?

On a Sunday, while the Facebook quarrels on the quality of Central Sofia's renovation works were losing momentum, a piece of disturbing news spread over. A young woman was raped and murdered in the northern city of Ruse, in broad daylight.

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RETURN OF RADIO FREE EUROPE

About 10 years after it gained membership of the EU and nine since Boyko Borisov's GERB came to power this country has made huge progress in spending EU money. However, it has plummeted in many measurable aspects of life: from life expectancy to emigration, from the fight against corruption to the fight against organised crime, and from median incomes to media freedoms. The latter has prompted the US Congress to resume funding for a news outlet to disseminate objective, balanced and non-partisan news and analysis, and facilitate unbiased debate.

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BULGARIA'S BEST SCENIC DRIVES

These include, but are not limited to, bad or non-existent asphalt, unpredictable and uncared-for potholes, confusing signage, maniacal drivers and traffic cops that contribute to the problems rather than try to solve them. Yet anyone who is even remotely interested in looking at the world from the window of a car will instantly know that driving through Bulgaria's lesser and off-the-beaten track roads is absolutely the best way to take in the natural and cultural beauties of this country and to experience a first-hand interaction with its people.

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MEASURING CORRUPTION IN SEPTEMVRI

The Office of the Special Prosecutor, which is the state attorney ordering corruption probes, took things with quite some determination as it ordered an underground probe to verify whether a water pipe recently installed under one of the town's streets was up to standard. This happened as part of an ongoing investigation against the town's mayor who the prosecutors suspected of embezzlement.

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HOW TO SURVIVE BULGARIA'S ROADS

Bulgarian drivers and their behaviour on the road are the stuff of urban lore. You will be hearing horror stories about them. Some of those may be true, others may not. Driving in Bulgaria is more dangerous compared to Wyoming, but absolutely a piece of cake if you have survived southern Italy. One thing that cannot be disputed about driving in this country is that it is be a memorable adventure.

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MONASTERY IN THE SKY

Seen from afar, St George's Monastery near Glozhene, by the Hemus highway, appears to challenge the laws of both physics and common sense. The compact monastic complex of wooden residential buildings with drooping eaves stands on the top of a narrow rock pillar.

Reaching the monastery is also a challenge. Signage in Yablanitsa, the nearest town, is non-existent and the GPS will send you to a dead-end. The road itself is a narrow band of crumbling asphalt clinging on to the steep slopes. Pray that you do not meet an oncoming car. In snow, it is impassable.

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QUOTE-UNQUOTE

A group of shrill women with children who pretend to be sick.

Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov on the ongoing protest of mothers of children of disabilities

We need to defend Orban as that way we defend our interests.

Environment Minister Neno Dimov

I cannot talk over a shrewd woman, that is why I can't get married.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov on Kornelia Ninova,chairwoman of the BSP

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CORFU DREAMS

Greece has thousands of islands and each of them has its own identity, even those that belong to the same archipelago. In this highly competitive crowd, however, Corfu – or Kerkyra – stands out.

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BORISLAV GEORGIEV, D-LINK: SMART SOLUTIONS

Omnipresent Internet connection, Internet of Things, smart homes: the world we are living in would be unthinkable only 10 years ago. D-Link is one of the companies that have brought about this change. Established in Taiwan 32 years ago, it is behind a number of innovations, technologies and solutions, and entered the smart home market as early as 2010. Today, its platform, mydlink, is the world's largest cloud surveillance platform, providing connectivity and intelligence a smart home needs.

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WHEN WE WERE VIKINGS, An excerpt from a travel essay

The sun doesn't set in the summer there so we played cards for hours in the ceaseless twilight; during the daytime, we hiked an old Viking trail. We carried our backpacks through the wilderness and set up camp each night by rivers and waterfalls. We found a fragment of whale bone on the seashore, curved and large as a giant's tooth. It was porous, but as heavy as the stones surrounding it.

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ECONOMY OF FUTURE

Two clashing viewpoints dominate the discussion on contemporary Bulgaria economy. The optimistic one maintains that the country is doing well and cites as evidence the growth of the average wages, the low state debt and the low unemployment rates. The pessimistic one focuses on the continuing emigration, the drop in the direct foreign investments, and the last places Bulgaria takes in regard to income and standard of living within the EU.

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