STA, 23 November - Slovenia fares below average in terms of hate speech being removed from social media in 24 hours after such a case is reported, according to findings from 14 European countries. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube removed only 24% of such cases in Slovenia, as opposed to the average of 31% for all the countries taking part.
A campaign to check the social media giants' reaction to hate speech was carried out as part of a European project to fight hate speech and fake news.
NGOs tested their reaction as the social media committed to a European Commission code to remove hate speech from their platforms in 24 hours since it was reported.
In the period from March to May, the social media were notified of more than 700 cases of hate speech, Slovenian NGO Ekvilib Institute said on Friday.
Hate speech was categorised as racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia, hate towards the Roma, Muslims and migrants, and genocide denial.
Faring the worst was Twitter with 15%, followed by YouTube with 22%, while Facebook removed as many as 55% of all contentious cases.
Ekvilib said social media were more actively removing hate speech in the countries where the authorities and NGOs address this issue more seriously.
France did best with 56% of all problematic content removed within 24 hours, but Ekvilib noted that in Slovenia, hate speech was only rarely prosecuted.
It also stressed that the Council of Europe had recently urged the country to intensify its fight against hate speech, especially in the public domain.
The worst results were meanwhile recorded in non-EU members, for which the EU's code does not apply: Norway (7%), Ukraine (11%), Turkey (24%) and Montenegro (30%).
The campaign was also carried in Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Great Britain.
The anti-hate speech project is run by the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement from France and funded by the European Commission.
All out stories on hate speech in Slovenia can be found here
November 23, 2018
If you’re looking for a fun activity for the upcoming weeks of cold and darkness, how about this one: turn your kitchen into a research lab and figure out the best way of bringing Jerusalem artichoke and/or cherry plum to a plate.
The EU sponsored project is called Alien Plant Species / from harmful to useful with citizen-led activities, in Slovenia it is being carried out in cooperation with the Institute of Chemistry, Ljubljana city government and Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering and it includes a competition for the most innovative dish made with Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus, also sunroot, sunchoke, or earth apple) and/or cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera, also myrabalan plum). Contestants are free to choose other ingredients as they like.
The winning authors will receive a plaque and their recipes will be presented at a festival on the use of invasive alien plant species in October 2019, where with any luck they’ll be standing alongside Ana Roš or some other Slovenian celebrity chef.
STA, 22 November 2018 - The iconic Alpine lake of Bled is to become even cleaner as the local authorities have purchased an electric vessel which will be used to clean the surface of the lake, removing leaves and various waste, such as plastic bottles and bags.
The floating electric robot has been purchased on an initiative of the rowers of the traditional Pletna boats, which are used to take tourists around the lake and to the picturesque Bled Island.
Funded from the fees that the local authorities collect from the various users of the lake infrastructure, the device is the first of its kind in Slovenia and this part of Europe, the Municipality of Bled announced on Thursday.
The vessel will be collecting various waste and debris on the lake surface and will cause no additional pollution, as it does not use fossil fuel.
Jakob Bassanese of the municipal utility Infrastruktura Bled, which will operate the vessel, said that this was yet another solution with the aim to contribute to the sustainable management of the lake, which attracts an increasing number of tourists.
The device produced by the Swiss company Grove Boats is actually a prototype, Bassanese said, adding that the vessel had arrived at Bled about week ago and that the initial tests yielded satisfactory results.
The remote-controlled vessel, whose batteries can last for two hours and which can carry rakes and nets of various densities, will be docked in the bathing area just below Bled Castle.
On Sunday, the bottom of the lake will meanwhile be inspected by divers in a campaign initiated by the organisers of the Bled Water Festival, a leading festival in the region in the field of water innovation.
Another campaign to clean up the bottom of the lake will be organised in the spring by the Slovenian Diving Association in cooperation with the local diving club.
Tonight, November 22 2018, a concert will be held in Ljubljana featuring the Police Orchestra and Vlado Kreslin. The occasion for this special event? A seasonal reward for drivers who were stopped around the St. Martin’s Day (Martinovanje) celebrations and achieved 0.0 on a breathalyser test. It’s a timely reminder as the season for office parties and social drinking is approaching that death on the roads doesn’t take a vacation, and that in addition to your own drink driving behaviour it’s a good idea to keep an eye on friends and loved ones at this time of year, and to plan for one sober driver or a taxi if needed.
The various drink driving limits in Europe. Wikimedia, public domain
The legal limit for ordinary drivers is Slovenia is 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood or 0.24 milligrams of alcohol per litre of exhaled air, while for beginners, professional drivers and other special groups total sobriety is required at all times.
Ideally no drivers should drink, but as a ready reckoner 350 ml of beer, 150 ml of wine and 5 ml of spirits will keep you under the limit, while two such drinks will put most people under 70 at or over the threshold, with gender, time since the alcohol was consumed, and food in the stomach being additional factors that influence the results.
The organization International SOS has produced the latest edition of its Travel Risk Map, finding Slovenia one of only eight countries in Europe deemed to have an “insignificant risk”, along with Luxembourg, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Greenland. Outside of Europe, the Seychelles and Cape Verde were also rated low risk destinations, based on factors such as political violence, crime, and social unrest, as well as transportation infrastructure, susceptibility to natural disasters, and the abilities of emergency and security services.
All other European countries were rated “low risk”, apart from Kosovo and Turkey, which gained “medium risk” status. The countries which were seen as presenting “extreme risk” for travelers were Mali, Libya, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, and parts of Iran, Pakistan and Nigeria.
In addition to security issues, International SOS also produces maps looking at medical risk and traffic safety. For the former, Slovenia – along with most of Europe – was seen as a low risk destination, while for road safety it gained a “low” rather than “very low” rating, the same as Italy, the other Balkan nations and Eastern Europe.
More details, along with the maps and the methodology behind their production, can be found here.
See all our stories about statistics and studies related to Slovenia here
December in Ljubljana is a magical time, and this year the magic starts a week early, with a riverside ambience of fire providing the setting for an evening of music, dance and theatre.
The summer’s most delightful festival in Ljubljana is, in my opinion, Ana Desetnica, which for more than week brings an international programme of street performers to the capital, with music, comedy, magic and drama livening up the city’s bridges, squares and street corners. The same organisation behind that event, Gledališče Ana Monro, is organising an autumn festival, Ana Plamenita in Špica, Ljubljana, this Saturday, November 24th, from 17:00 to 21:00, although if the weather’s bad the event will be moved to Sunday. (Check the Facebook page for details.)
In previous editions this has seen fire-based installations and performances lighting up various locations around town and this year the magic is set to take place just a short walk upriver from the centre of town, at Špica, which also hosted the event in 2017, when these pictures were taken.
On arriving at the site of Ana Plamenita you’ll see an area transformed with fire and light, set up in creative displays to bring magic to an autumn evening, and just a week before the lights are turned on in Ljubljana. Of course, where there’s light there’s shadow, and shadow-play will be a special feature of this year’s festival, with workshops and creative areas set-up for you to make your own lanterns and dolls.
While surprise remains a key element of the evening, expect performances from various artists making use of the ambiance, with paper giants and a creature in the Japanese shade garden, as well as Tango Pop dancing in the streets. In addition to such displays visitors will be pleased to note that the Špica Caffe will be open should you need a warm drink on a cold evening.
Ana Plamenita is on this Saturday, November 24th, 17:00 to 21:00, weather permitting, and check the Facebook, Instagram or website (Slovene only) for details of that. And if you can’t make this event then don’t worry, as Ana Monro is back in town at the end of December with the winter edition of its street theatre festival, Ana Mraz.
STA, 21 November 2018 - Gault & Millau has published a Slovenian edition of its high-profile restaurant guide. A total of 130 restaurants across the country are featured, with the highest scores awarded to restaurants by celebrity chefs already considered among the best places to eat in Slovenia.
Two two highest-rated restaurants are Pri Lojzetu, the restaurant at Zemono Mansion run by celebrity chef Tomaž Kavčič, and Hiša Franko in Kobarid, the home of Ana Roš, who was declared the world's best female chef in 2017 by the culinary portal World's 50 Best Restaurants.
They both received the highest mark awarded in Slovenia, 17.5 points, and four white hats. Gault & Millau rates restaurants on a scale of 1 to 20, with five the maximum number of hats.
Four more restaurants received four hats but half a point less.
Chef Gregor Vračko's Hiša Denk in Kungota in eastern Slovenia and his brother David's eatery Mak in Maribor made the cut, as well as chef Igor Jagodic's Strelec in Ljubljana and Ošterija Debeluh in Brežice in south Slovenia, which is run by chef Jure Tomič.
The guide also includes 50 popular places which have not been rated, as well as 50 Slovenian wineries and 15 small brewers.
The publication was met with great fanfare because it is the first time a major international restaurant guide has published a dedicated Slovenia edition.
Michelin, arguably the best known culinary guide in the world, does not have a Slovenia guide yet.
Gault & Millau’s website can be seen here
STA, 20 November 2018 - Slovenia will get significantly hotter by the end of the century as greenhouse gas emissions drive climate change, and even the most optimistic scenarios show that the frequency and severity of heat waves will increase. Precipitation patterns will be upended as well, in particular in winter, the latest climate projections show.
The projections, released by the Slovenian Environment Agency on Tuesday, consider three scenarios of climate change compared to the reference years 1981-2010 - and under all of them the changes will be profound.
Average temperatures, having already increased by 2.2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times by 2011, are projected to rise by 1.3 degrees by the end of the century according to the most optimistic scenario and as much as 6 degrees according to the most pessimistic scenario.
The number of hot days will increase by 6-27 days depending on scenario, but even under the most optimistic scenario heat waves will be much more common and longer.
There will be at least one heat wave each year as bad or worse than the record-setting heat wave of 2003. "By the end of the century, 2003 could be considered quite fresh," Environment Agency researcher Gregor Vertačnik said.
The flip side of the warmer climate will be a significantly longer growing season, which could begin a month earlier and end a month later, without an increase in the probability of spring frost.
In the past fifty years Slovenia has been getting drier, with precipitation dropping by about a tenth and the snow cover by more than half.
But by the end of the century, the situation is likely to be completely different, especially in eastern Slovenia.
In the moderately optimistic and pessimistic scenarios precipitation is expected to increase by 20% by the end of the century, but the overall increase masks even more profound seasonal changes.
In the pessimistic scenario, winter precipitation is projected to increase by 40% by the middle of the century and up to 60% by the end of the century.
In other seasons the change will not be so profound, though projections show a significant increase in extreme weather events such as flooding in general.
The good news, according to the agency, is that Slovenia will not have a shortage of water, as the average annual replenishing of aquifers will increase by about a fifth.
But this also means waterways are more likely to spill over.
The Environment Agency said the projections show climate change will impact every facet of life and required adaptation.
"The projections are primarily a groundwork for adaptation to climate change. But they can also be used in strategic projects with a long time span which must be resilient to climate change. Everyone planning such projects needs our forecasts," according to the agency's chief climatologist Mojca Dolinar.
Barbara Simonič of the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning said resilience to climate change needed to improve. She said the national-level projections must now be followed-up by assessments for individual sectors.
While the analysis considers three scenarios, the agency also warns that there is a high degree of uncertainty, with the gravity of change depending on how much humanity manages to limit greenhouse gas emissions and how reliable the forecasting models are.
Our other stories on climate change sand Slovenia are here
We got in touch with Juan López to learn more about the English-language science presentations he helps organize in Ljubljana.
Can you tell me a little about the history of Science Bites?
Science Bites started as an idea between a group of scientist friends. We often engaged in conversation to explain how our work was going (as all of us are researchers in different fields), and we were really happy to explain to our close group of friends (non-scientists) what we were doing. One day we thought that it would be great to do the same on a bigger scale, to inform people about the most recent science discoveries and to explain misconceptions around certain topics like nuclear energy or genetic modified organisms. And this would also be a good way to practice science presentations in English, since as researchers it’s one of the main skills we need for conferences.
The first time we made an event we were just nine friends, and then word spread and by the second edition we had 15 new speakers. It brought a golden opportunity for young researchers and students, as they could also practice their social and presentation skills, and since we always met in a relaxing atmosphere and chill crowd, it was the perfect exercise for those who have a bit of fear about speaking in public.
Photo: Tomaž Suhovršnik
Who can come?
Our events are open to the public. We try not to get really technical in our presentations, and to explain with easy terms for everyone to understand. A science background is not needed. Maybe it’s not suitable for really small children since all the presentations are in English, and we assume that the public has certain basic knowledge from high school. The main purpose is to inform, to share science, to bring to the public that “wow” that follows every discovery or understanding of how the world works. We don’t want to teach in our field, we just want to speak about the topics we know the most about.
Photo: Tomaž Suhovršnik
Where’s the new venue, and how will this change the way the events are organized?
The new venue will be Žmauc [Rimska cesta 21, 1000 Ljubljana], near the city center and the Faculty of Philosophy, and currently we are not planning to change our format much. Twenty-minute presentations followed by 10 minutes of questions, three speakers per session, three to five sessions per season (sessions are held every two weeks, the number of sessions depends on how many speakers we have). We would like to give more visibility to the project, reach more researchers, and get even more people to future events.
What should people do if they want to make a presentation?
People just need passion for what they are doing. With passion comes the desire for sharing it with others. Any scientific background is welcome, in the natural or social sciences. We currently have a Facebook page called “Science bites Slovenia” and a message there will put you in contact with us. We accept everyone that wants to participate. They should design a 20-minutes presentation, and while most of our speakers use a PowerPoint presentation with videos, images this isn’t needed. You can decide the best format for your presentation, such as using a whiteboard to write while you’re speaking, or just a straight talk with no technical support. We aim for presentations to be comprehensible, fun and dynamic, so we can interact with the people that come to listen to us, especially during the question part of the evenings.
What can audiences expect?
Audiences can expect a bit more detail explaining the world around us. Science news that sadly can’t be covered in everyday media and news resources, from young scientists working in many different fields. News about the events and related things can be found in the Facebook page “Science Bites Slovenia”. We also have plans to start using a YouTube channel to record our presentations, for those who can’t attend the event and still would like to listen to it.
Anything else you’d like to say?
The event is totally free (apart from what you’d like to consume at the bar) and our the speakers do it for the pure love of science and sharing. After any event you can come and ask whatever questions were not answered in the question time, and we are always happy to speak with people. And who knows, you may find a new field that you didn’t know about, and which motivates you enough to dedicate your work to it!As noted in the interview, if you'd like to make a presentation, attend one, or just follow the group's activities, then do see the Facebook page called “Science bites Slovenia”. And if you're ready for some relatively simply science presentations in Slovene, then check out the ones held each weekend at the House of Experiments (learn more
The Festival of LGBT Film has come a long since the days when the organisers were building an underground event around a collection of VHS tapes hand collected from London, often screened without anyone involved knowing quite what they contained. Now getting ready to start it’s 34th edition, the festival is a well-established annual affair, put on with the support of public and private sponsors, and with a large, well-curated programme of features and shorts from around the world. Over twenty titles will be shown in Ljubljana, at Kinodvor, Kinoteka and Metelkova’s Klub Tiffany, with additional screenings in Maribor (IntimiKino), Koper (MKSMC), Ptuj (Mestin kino), Bistrica ob Sotli (Mladinski center), Idrija (Filmsko gledališče) and Trst/Trieste (Cinema Ariston).
The films come from Slovenia, the USA, China, Germany, Italy, Myanmar, Columbia, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Spain, France, Paraguay, Brazil, Scotland, Kenya and elsewhere, with all screenings including both English and Slovene subtitles, when needed. The related website also has an English version, here, which includes the full schedule of screenings and events, and there’s also a Facebook page.
The festival presents a round-up of the last year or so in LGBT+ film from around the world, with both fictional and documentary presentations, including Chi salverà le rose? (Who Will Save the Roses?), Sydney and Friends, Mr Gay Syria, Call Her Ganda, Freak Show, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Rafiki, Carmen & Lola, Martesa (The Marriage Film), Consequences (Posledice), Obscuro Barroco, Queercore and The Handmaiden (Agassi), although note this list is incomplete and a fuller account can be found elsewhere online.
All our LGBT+ stories can be found here
STA, 20 November - The 34th Slovenian Book Fair is getting under way at Ljubljana's Cankarjev Dom tonight, featuring more than a hundred publishers and 25,000 books, including 3,000 new titles. Hungary is the guest country.
For several years now the fair has been seeking to expand beyond its national character with a guest country and guest appearances by foreign authors.
This year it will welcome Man Booker Prize winner Roddy Doyle, Goncourt Prize winner Marie NDiaye, Fulvio Tomizza Award laureate Mauro Covacich and Nepali poet Yuyutsu Ram Das Sharma.
After France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Hungary will be in the spotlight, showcased through literature, film, music, dance and cuisine.
Zdravko Kafol, the head of the organising committee, says that the fair is not yet international, but that Ljubljana deserves to have an international book fair, especially now that it has been designated as UNESCO's City of Literature.
Talking with the STA ahead of the launch, Kafol said that the fair featured virtually the entire publishing industry in the country and most of the new titles and attracted more visitors than all other book events together.
The publishing sector has not yet broken out of the spiral of contraction. But while it represents only two thousandths of GDP, its symbolic value is much bigger, even though not appreciated, Kafol says.
Despite efforts by various stakeholders, 42% of Slovenians do not read and one out of four is functionally illiterate, while tax on book is one of the highest in the EU, Kafol noted.
This is why the fair has taken it upon itself to promote reading and buying books through various campaigns, such as this year's call to visitors: "Admission free, buy a book more instead!"
Kafol says the aim is to attract more young people, as well as leaders from all walks of life, in order to draw attention to the importance of books for the health of the individual and the country.
Running until Sunday, the fair will open with an address by Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, which Kafol says indicates that the increasing importance that is being attached to books.
The fair will see more than 300 accompanying events on seven stages, involving almost 1,000 participants from literary, cultural, social and media life as it strives to become a must-see event.
Among more than 100 authors hosted at the fair, several acclaimed guests from Slovenia will be celebrating their jubilees, including Drago Jančar, Ivo Svetina and Marjanca Jemec Božič.
Next year, the fair will focus on the Enlightenment, to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the deaths of two Slovenian representatives of the movement, Valentin Vodnik (1758-1819) and Žiga Zois (1747-1819). Instead of a guest country, the fair will play host to whole Europe.
The official website, in Slovene, is here