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News Briefs

Got pot?
In a drug-busting frenzy, the Latvian State Police have detained the ringleaders of a massive marijuana farming operation in what has become the largest marijuana bust in Latvian history. The Talsi marijuana farm is no more, as police seized over 500,00 lats (711,400 euro) worth of drugs. Police found 1,905 marijuana plants, 18 kilograms of marijuana, and 5.3 kilograms of hashish at the site. In total, this amounts to a whopping 150 kilograms of undried marijuana. Police claim the drugs were intended for sale outside of Latvia. The suspects are facing time behind bars from eight to 15 years.  

In September, the Latvian police seized tens of thousands of lats worth of marijuana in Valmiera and Jekabpils. Despite this rash of drug busts, Latvian State Police spokeswoman Cintija Virse called the large amount of busts a "coincidence".

The first woman, a Norwegian citizen, has been fined for urinating on the Freedom Monument in Riga. State Police have imposed a 200 lat (284 euro) fine on the Norwegian hooligan for urinating by the Freedom Monument in Riga. The 22-year old was caught on video surveillance around 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 2. The Norwegian was under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol level of almost 0.2 promils. She was detained and taken to police. The young woman explained that she had used alcohol and was not able to control her actions. She was slapped with a fine and released.

Lady Luck
The ladies of Latvia are moving on up in the world, as a recent report shows that the gender gap is closing. Gone are the days of severe inequality, Latvia now ranks 10th in the world for closing the gap and for creating opportunities for women. The Global Gender Gap Report 2008 shows that has Latvia moved up three spots from last year, entering the Top 10. The report also shows that education advancement is on the rise. However, the gender gap in leadership and politics is still large. Lithuania is far behind Latvia this year, having dropped to number 23. Estonia also took a few steps backward and is ranked 37th this year.

Estonian celluloid fans are making their voices heard. Two Estonian films won top prizes at film festivals in Belgium and the Netherlands last week. The Estonian movie "Life without Gabriella Ferri," directed by Priit Parn and Olga Marchenko, won the main prize at the Dutch Animated Films Festival in Utrecht, in the Netherlands. "Autumn Ball," a film by the Estonian director Vello Ounpuu received the Grand Prix at the 35th International Independent Films Festival in Brussels. A total of 25 countries participated in this festival and, according to the organizers, about 20,000 people have viewed the films presented over the six days.

Lazy days of winter
Lithuanians have yet another reason to be merry this holiday season as the Social Security and Labor Ministry has presented the Cabinet with a draft of a resolution asking for four days off during New Years. Lithuania's happy citizens already enjoy nine long weekends and receive four days free for the Christmas holidays. However, Lithuanians will have to make up one of the free days in February.