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ERR News - A growing trend of parents giving up their children due to poverty has highlighted serious imbalances in how state aid in Estonia is allocated.

Parents are eligible for just 64 euros in state aid per month for their first child and 51 euros per month for every additional child, while orphanages receive 640 euros per child, 30 to 40 percent of which goes directly to child maintenance, Eesti Päevaleht reported.

Whereas earlier drug use and alcoholism were the main reason parents in Estonia handed their children over to state care, now more parents are doing so out of poverty.

Mare Välja, the director of an orphanage in Narva, said that their latest four arrivals had ended up at the institution simply because their parents couldn't afford to take care of them.

Estonian law does not allow parents to give up their children for economic reasons, however local officials often turn a blind eye to the practice in cases of real need.

The Ministry of Social Affairs said that 34,402 people received income support in the first quarter of the year, over ten thousand of them children.

ERR News - The government has approved the draft 2011 budget which it will send to parliament next week, with a deficit of 1.6% of GDP and with investments at an all-time high as a percentage of the budget.

Expenditure will be just over 6 billion euros - about 250 million euros more than this year - and it will be funded above all by sale of excess pollution allowances and external capital.

Revenue is planned at 5.73 billion euros, which means a deficit of 243 million euros - 1.6 percent of Estonian GDP.

The budget is expected to be in balance by 2013.

On September 11, 2010, Pillerkaar danced at the Salisbury University event sponsored by the Sister Cities Association of Salisbury/Wicomico County and the Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council.

His Excellency Väino Reinart, ambassador of Estonia to the United States, delivered a special greeting from Estonia and Salisbury’s sister city of Tartu during the presentation “Singing to My Sister”. Salisbury Mayor James Ireton, SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach, and guests from the Maryland Legislature brought local greetings from Salisbury to the residents of Tartu. The event was videotaped and will be offered as a special gift of goodwill from Salisbury to the Embassy of Estonia and the Office of the Mayor in Tartu.

Recent days have brought news articles pertaining to the "post-Soviet" condition that Estonia is said to be in.

An Estonian Public Broadcasting news item in English on August 20 was headed "Estonia Marks 19 Years of Post-Soviet Independence.” National Public Radio in the US followed with "Russian Minority Struggles In Post-Soviet Estonia" on August 23.

As a concept, "post-Soviet" is an evasive rascal. Encyc-lopedia Britannica, in an entry about post-Soviet Russia, notes that the "USSR legally ceased to exist on Dec. 31, 1991," and that Russia, "like most...other former Soviet republics...entered independence in a state of serious disorder and economic chaos."

Pillerkaar, the Estonian folk-dance group from the Washington, D.C. area, entertained an enthusiastic crowd at the annual Scanfest at Budd Lake, Hackettstown, N.J. on Sunday, September  5, 2010.

Scanfest is an outdoor festival of the Nordic nations - Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Finland, and Estonia - which draws thousands of people on Labor Day weekend each year.  The festival offers a full day of ethnic music, dance, gift shopping at some 100 booths, and food tents serving pea soup to pizza.

The lines at the Swedish pancake tent were especially long, since they reminded everyone of their own pankoogid.  "Kodune," one Estonian senior visitor commented.  Pillarkaar, which traditionally has anchored the dancing here, came with seven performers: Karen Heilman, Jyri Erik Kork, Mauno Kork, Age Landra Robinson, Laila Oinas, Priit Vesilind, and Jeff Zelek, as well as director/choreographer Anu Oinas and her grandson Hagan, three years old, who was also in Estonian national dress.  The riveting dances included the comedic "Polka burlesk" and "Kosjalugu"; the coquettish "Meie Mari"; a fast paced "Vigala reindlander" and "Tule aga tule"; as well as the graceful Austrian waltz from Sound of Music, "Laendler".

Priit Vesilind

ERR News - Estonia has climbed two places to reach 33rd place in the World Economic Forum's latest competitiveness rankings. The organization's newly-released Global Competitiveness Report ranked the country the highest among the ten nations that joined the EU in 2004.

Commenting on the report, Heido Vitsur, an economist for the Estonian Development Fund, said that the most significant change was in the country's macroeconomic situation.

ERR News - When some years ago the Tower of Hercules in La Coruña, Spain, held the title of the world's oldest functioning lighthouse, now the honor belongs to Kõpu, Hiiumaa, Päevaleht wrote.

The 36-meter Kõpu lighthouse, in the western part of Estonia's second-largest island, was built in the beginning of the 16th century. According to historical re-cords, the first firewood was ignited at the top of the lighthouse on August 1, 1531. The tower served as an important beacon for merchant fleets of the Hanseatic League that were sailing in the Baltic.

The lens still in use, floating in a mercury basin, was bought from a Paris exhibition in 1901. Kõpu lighthouse is visited by nearly 30,000 tourists every year. Hiiumaa's Kõpu, Ristna and Tahkuna are the only Estonian lighthouses regularly open for public visitation.

FMReview - 12 August - Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) has launched an English-language news site at http://news.err.ee to present objective information from Estonia to an international audience. The newsdesk was established to help increase interest in Estonia from the international public as well as wire services by providing a source of trustworthy and balanced news coverage.

Daily news headings include Politics, Economy, Sci-Tech, Culture and Sports. The site will cover the major headlines and news that could be of interest to people abroad and will also feature subtitled video segments from the country's best-known evening news program, Aktuaalne Kaamera, and other ETV and ETV2 programming.

The newsdesk is staffed by a multinational team consisting of Erkki Sivonen, Ott Tammik, Kristopher Rikken and Steven Roman. The portal launch and development is being led by longtime Estonian resident Scott Diel, who contributes a wealth of experience in the international media, and ERR portals editor Aivar Pau.

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