EXPANDING FREE BORDERS -- Last week the number of signatories of the EU's Schengen Agreement jumped from 13 to 22, with the addition of nine more member states. This means that EU citizens are able to move freely, without checks, within an area expanded to 3.6 million square kilometers across Europe from France to the Baltic States (Britain is only a partial member of Schengen). In an age of world terrorism, it may seem like a risky development, but European officials maintain they have actually improved internal security within the European Union with the establishment of the Schengen Information System (SIS).
Set up in 1995, the SIS database ensures a free-flow of information in real time between all 22 countries, ranging from vital feeds on suspected terrorists to details of stolen automobiles. For example, the EU says that through October 2007, 1,826,908 SIS alerts had been issued concerning stolen cars. EU sources are a little less forthcoming about terrorist information.
MORE THAN JUST A PRETTY FACE -- The New York Times Tuesday called the Rome exhibition of 69 outstanding archeological treasures, mostly recovered from U.S. museums, "a declaration of victory" for Italian cultural officials and negotiators "in their long and often contentious negotiations for the return of such artifacts." The show specifically links four major American institutions to objects on display that had been looted from archeological sites all over Italy. For example, one caption next to a statue says: "Marble statue of Vibia Sabina, second century A.D., formerly Museum of Fine Arts Boston."