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NATO contemplates a broader mission

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Eleven years ago, few people other than south-Asia watchers had any idea what the Taliban was, much less could have imagined why more than 100,000 soldiers would be needed to fight it. At that time, the world’s premier military alliance, NATO, had never fought a ground war, operated outside of Europe, or invoked its Article 5 collective-defense clause.  But Sept. 11, 2001 changed everything for the alliance. Well, almost everything.

Czech Republic leads Europe in meth labs

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Methamphetamine use is relatively low in Europe, but the Czech Republic far surpasses its neighbors for the number of clandestine meth labs within its borders. Last year, the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) joined Europol to study methamphetamines in Europe. The data is provisional, and not every country provided data. But the results so far are unambiguous. Of the 483 meth labs discovered on the continent in 2008, all but 26 of them were in this small country of 10.3 million people.

Studying the Holocaust requires more than just learning history

PRAGUE — Holocaust survival stories are, by definition, remarkable because so few survived. But even by that remarkable standard, Pavel Stransky's story stands out. Terezin was not an extermination camp but rather a transit camp, where Jews and other prisoners were generally held until being sent to other camps, most often extermination camps, to the east. But more than 30,000 prisoners died at Terezin as a result of appalling hygienic conditions, a shear dearth of food and water, hard, manual, labor and simply sadistic, random, killings by the Nazi guards.

American students hear Holocaust love story

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — For a group of high school students visting here from New Jersey, talking with 89-year-old Pavel Stransky was like having a character from a history book step off the page to recall a love story that collided with the darkest days of the Holocaust. The scene was the winter of 1943 and after two years in the Terezin concentration camp Stransky, who was then a 22-year-old Jew from Prague, was facing deportation to Auschwitz. He was also deeply in love.

Obama backs up pledge to reduce nuclear arms

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — During a speech at Prague Castle last year, U.S. President Barack Obama announced an audacious idea to eventually rid the world of nuclear weapons. It was a goal, he said, not likely to be achieved in his lifetime. A treaty signed by Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Prague on Thursday, almost a year to the day, would trim the two power’s strategic nuclear arsenals to their lowest levels in half a century.

Why the public supports Al-Thani

Among the many bizarre aspects to my story about the Qatari prince who is suing the Czech Republic is how Al-Thani went about getting these young girls into his bed. Here's how the scheme worked, according to local media reports. He hired two adult females to troll the streets — especially near schools — looking for attractive young girls generally aged 12 to 14.

StreetLife: Prague, Czech Rep.

Imbuing human rights with the glitz of a film fest

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — What started out 12 years ago as a modest film festival devoted to human rights has grown into the largest festival of its kind in Europe, run under the auspices of one of Europe's leading human rights advocates. It has been more than 20 years since Vaclav Havel, a dissident playwrite, led a peaceful revolution that brought down Czechoslovakia's communist regime. And it has already been seven years since he retired from politics, serving first as president of Czechoslovakia and then its successor state, the Czech Republic.

Qatari prince sues Czech Republic

PRAGUE, Czech Republic — A Qatari prince is suing the Czech Republic for unlawful detention despite having been convicted of sexually assaulting more than a dozen underage girls.
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