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Ana Fota

Brussels, Belgium
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About Ana
Ana Fota is a freelancer reporter based in Brussels, who covers a wide range of topics of European interest. Her work has been published by The New York Times, POLITICO, Euronews, The Parliament Magazine, The Brussels Times and more. 
Until recently, she worked for POLITICO Europe covering news and Romanian politics, including the country’s efforts to achieve its climate goals through renewable energy. 
Before moving to Brussels, Ana worked for The New York Times as part of their Manhattan newsroom, where she covered local news. She holds a B.A. in journalism from Fordham University in NY. During her free time, she enjoys visiting museums, reading or walking her dog.
Feature Stories Fact Checking

Migration top of the agenda as Belgium outlines priorities for its Council of the EU presidency

11 Dec 2023  |  theparliamentmagazine.eu
Belgium, taking over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU in January, will focus on migration, health policy, and technology. Ambassador Willem van de Voorde highlighted the urgency of adopting a new Migration Pact and establishing a Critical Medicines Act, including a Critical Medicines Alliance to address drug shortages, such as the diabetes drug Ozempic. Belgium also advocates for an EU agency to screen algorithms. The upcoming presidency will also ensure the enforcement of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

A traveling exhibit of Ukrainian modernism keeps art safe in wartime

27 Nov 2023  |  theparliamentmagazine.eu
A collection of valuable Ukrainian artworks was transported out of Kyiv to Poland for safety amid Russian missile attacks. These works, dating from 1900 to 1930, are now on display in Brussels at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in the exhibition 'In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900-1930s.' The exhibition, which includes over 50 works from Kyiv’s National Art Museum and its Museum of Theatre, Music and Cinema, aims to showcase Ukraine’s cultural heritage and keep international attention on the ongoing conflict. It will travel to Austria's Belvedere Museum and London's Royal Academy of Arts in the coming months. The future of the exhibition post-London is uncertain and depends on decisions by Ukraine's Ministry of Culture. The exhibit, which was planned before the war, has gained significance due to the conflict, and features a range of modernist styles and artists with multinational backgrounds, including Kazymyr Malevych, Sarah Shor, and Alexandra Exter.

Bridging the gap: How Stephanie Manasseh made new audiences accessible to Belgium's artists

12 Oct 2023  |  www.theparliamentmagazine.eu
Stephanie Manasseh, originally from Montreal, became a significant figure in Brussels' contemporary art scene after founding the Accessible Art Fair, which allowed artists to sell their work directly to audiences without gallery intermediation. The fair, which ran for 15 editions, ceased during the pandemic. Manasseh, now an art consultant and curator through her company SM Art Advisory, has observed changes in the art market, including the rise of social media enabling artists to promote their work independently. Despite the fair's end, Manasseh continues to influence the art market by advising clients and working on art-related projects.

MEPs call for EU to ramp up search and rescue efforts in the Mediterranean

03 Oct 2023  |  www.theparliamentmagazine.eu
The article discusses the ongoing migration crisis in the Mediterranean, highlighting the need for the European Union to enhance search and rescue operations. It references the 2013 Lampedusa tragedy and the subsequent, but short-lived, Mare Nostrum operation. MEPs have called for more coordinated efforts, with key figures like Lena Düpont and Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar advocating for human rights-focused policies. Organizations like Amnesty International and Sea-Watch criticize current EU and member state actions, urging for a more proactive approach to save lives and comply with international law.

Children with chronic illnesses enjoy free day at Foire du Midi

01 Oct 2023  |  The Bulletin
More than 260 children with chronic illnesses enjoyed a free day at Brussels' Foire du Midi, thanks to an initiative by the festival's organizers and 12 associations including Make-A-Wish and ClassContact. The event, attended by notable figures like DJ Daddy K and volleyball player Britt Herbots, aims to provide a day of joy and escape for the children and their families. This annual event has been running for 20 years, with increasing participation each year.

Eight years of renovations begin on Vilvoorde viaduct

01 Oct 2023  |  The Bulletin
Major renovation works have commenced on the Vilvoorde viaduct, a crucial part of the Brussels ring road, with an estimated cost of €435 million and a duration of eight years. The project aims to maintain traffic flow by dividing the work into stages, with initial steps including narrowing traffic lanes and reducing speed limits. The renovation is essential due to the viaduct's deteriorating structure, and the project will eventually add a fourth lane in each direction.

Brussels' biggest supermarkets to be required to donate unsold food

01 Oct 2023  |  The Bulletin
Starting in 2024, Brussels' supermarkets over 1,000m² must donate unsold food to charity, as announced by Brussels minister for social action Alain Maron. This initiative aims to address the needs of 70,000 people requiring food aid in Brussels and aligns with Europe's goal to reduce food waste by 30% by 2030. Supermarkets will be paired with beneficiary organizations to facilitate the donation process, prioritizing non-profits like food banks while allowing companies that reuse or resell food to access surplus inventory.

Romania hit with cyberattacks at start of Ukraine war, official says

01 Oct 2023  |  www.politico.eu
Romania experienced a significant increase in cyberattacks following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with most attacks originating from Russian IP addresses. The National Cyber Security Directorate reported a 100-fold increase in attacks shortly after the invasion. European and NATO officials are concerned about the potential for these cyberattacks to disrupt the Western response to the war. Romania has offered cybersecurity support to Ukraine and is part of an EU rapid response team. Despite the heightened alert, European authorities have not seen a substantial increase in cyberattacks overall.

Disinformation has a powerful impact on voting intentions

01 Oct 2023  |  www.theparliamentmagazine.eu
Europe faces a critical election year with the risk of disinformation heightened by technological advances, particularly generative AI. Dr. Julie Posetti highlights the challenges posed by disinformation, the role of AI in amplifying these threats, and the need for better detection tools and investment in independent journalism. The text underscores the significant impact of disinformation on voting intentions and the importance of addressing the sources of disinformation, including platforms and profiteering companies. The European Union's efforts through the Digital Services Act are noted, but there is a call for more urgent and comprehensive action to protect democracy and human rights.

Stampede at Indonesia football match leaves 125 dead

01 Oct 2023  |  www.politico.eu
At least 125 people died and many were injured following a stampede at a football stadium in Java, Indonesia, after a match between Arema and Persebaya Surabaya. The chaos ensued when police used tear gas to disperse crowds after Arema's defeat, leading to a deadly stampede. The incident resulted in the deaths of 34 people at the stadium and others in nearby hospitals. Overcrowding was a significant factor, with 42,000 tickets issued for a stadium with a capacity of 38,000. Indonesia's football league has suspended play for a week while authorities investigate.

Climate change will bring more holidaymakers to Belgium, says travel boss

14 Aug 2023  |  www.thebulletin.be
Sebastian Ebel, CEO of travel agency TUI, suggests that Belgium, along with the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries, will become more popular holiday destinations as global warming affects Europe's south, leading tourists to seek cooler summer temperatures. He notes an increase in bookings for the Benelux and Scandinavia for autumn 2023 and mentions that TUI will focus on these emerging destinations.

MEPs call for revamp of artists’ rights across EU and debate on AI-generated content

01 Jul 2023  |  www.euronews.com
The European Parliament's culture and employment committees have presented a joint report calling for a new framework to ensure fair pay and better social protections for creative workers across the EU. The report highlights the precarious conditions faced by artists, exacerbated by the pandemic, and calls for the introduction of a 'status of the artist' to guarantee better protections. The report also addresses the challenges posed by AI-generated content and the need for mutual recognition of diplomas across member states. While some critics argue the report lacks ambition, there is optimism about the growing momentum for artists' rights.

Belgium's first fully electric rubbish truck enters service in Brussels

01 Jul 2023  |  The Bulletin
Belgium's first fully electric waste collection truck has started operating in northern Brussels, specifically in Neder-Over-Heembeek. The truck, managed by Bruxelles Propreté, is safer and cleaner but significantly more expensive than traditional models. It features a 200km range and advanced safety systems. Despite the high initial cost, lower maintenance expenses are expected to balance out over time. Bruxelles Propreté plans to evaluate the truck's performance before deciding on further orders, with a goal of achieving a completely emission-free fleet by 2038. Another electric truck is set to be introduced in September for glass collection.

How Olivier Vandecasteele became a pawn in Iran’s deadly diplomatic game

26 May 2023  |  www.brusselstimes.com
Olivier Vandecasteele, a Belgian aid worker, returned home after 15 months of imprisonment in Iran, where he was detained on charges of espionage. His release was secured through a controversial prisoner swap involving Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi, convicted of terrorism. The article highlights the Iranian government's use of hostage diplomacy and the international efforts to secure Vandecasteele's release, including campaigns by Amnesty International and criticism from various political figures. The swap has sparked debate over its implications for future diplomatic relations and the safety of European citizens in Iran.

The sauna has historically served as an ally for Finland's politicians

01 Apr 2023  |  POLITICO
The article discusses the cultural and political significance of the sauna in Finland, highlighting its role in facilitating diplomatic discussions and decision-making among politicians. It is noted that saunas are a Finnish institution, recognized on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List, and have historically provided a relaxed atmosphere for officials to converse and find common ground. The article mentions Finland's recent move towards NATO membership following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the presence of saunas in Finnish government buildings, embassies, and military. Former Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen and European Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen share their views on the importance of the sauna in Finnish culture and politics. The article also touches on the gender dynamics of sauna diplomacy and its evolution over time, with Meta's head of EU affairs, Aura Salla, providing a personal perspective on the sauna's role in her life.

Hope and horror: Brussels marks one year of Russia’s war on Ukraine

24 Feb 2023  |  www.politico.eu
Brussels commemorates the one-year anniversary of Russia's war on Ukraine with various events, including demonstrations, exhibitions, and murals. Ukrainian refugees and supporters, along with EU officials, participate in these events to show solidarity and raise awareness. Key figures emphasize the need for justice, reconstruction, and continued support for Ukraine. Art plays a significant role in these commemorations, with exhibitions and murals symbolizing the shared future and resilience of Ukraine and Europe.

Refugee Diaries: One year later, still far from home

24 Feb 2023  |  www.politico.eu
One year after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, refugees share their experiences of adjusting to life in various European countries. They express gratitude for the support received but also highlight the emotional and psychological toll of the war. Many have lost loved ones and struggle with the uncertainty of the future. Despite the hardships, they remain hopeful for Ukraine's future and are determined to rebuild their lives. The narratives reveal a deep sense of national pride and a strong desire for peace and stability.

How Qatar used a secret deal to bind itself to the EU Parliament

17 Feb 2023  |  politico.eu
Eva Kaili, the European Parliament’s vice president, was arrested in a corruption scandal involving Qatar and Morocco, accused of influencing the EU Parliament’s work. In 2018, Pier Antonio Panzeri, then a member of the Parliament, signed a cooperation deal with Qatar’s human rights commission, which was not officially recognized by the EU Parliament. This deal facilitated years of collaboration, including conferences and trips to Doha, with Qatar covering expenses. Panzeri has admitted to bribing MEPs in a plea deal, while Kaili and her partner, Francesco Giorgi, deny wrongdoing. The scandal has raised concerns about foreign influence and the lack of oversight in the EU Parliament.

Report: King Charles to cancel planned COP27 appearance

02 Oct 2022  |  www.politico.eu
King Charles III will not attend the COP27 climate summit in Egypt next month following advice from U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss. The monarch, known for his environmental advocacy, had planned to give a speech at the event, which would have been his first overseas tour as king. The decision was made in accordance with government advice, as reported by the Sunday Times.

Russia kicked out of Eurovision Song Contest

25 Feb 2022  |  www.politico.eu
The European Broadcasting Union has banned Russia from participating in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest due to the country's military invasion of Ukraine. The decision aims to protect the competition's values of international exchange and understanding. Russia, a participant since 1994 and winner in 2008, will not be included in the final event scheduled for May 14 in Turin, Italy.

Dacian Cioloş quits as leader of Romanian opposition party

07 Feb 2022  |  politico.eu
Dacian Cioloş, former Romanian prime minister and MEP, resigned as head of the liberal Save Romania Union (USR) after his plans to reform the party were rejected. He emphasized the need for modernization and dialogue within USR, which has experienced internal tensions since merging with the PLUS party. Cioloş had been USR leader since October and was previously chair of the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament. Despite being proposed as prime minister by President Klaus Iohannis, he did not secure support from MPs. Cioloş will remain a party member.

Slaps, eggs and punches: 5 altercations between politicians and the people

09 Jun 2021  |  www.politico.eu
The article recounts five notable altercations between political leaders and the public, highlighting incidents involving Emmanuel Macron, Nicolas Sarkozy, John Prescott, Helmut Kohl, George W. Bush, and Manuel Valls. These events range from slaps and punches to eggs and shoes being thrown, reflecting various public reactions to political figures. Each incident is described with context, including the political climate and the aftermath of the altercations.

What if Joe Biden wins?

23 Oct 2020  |  i20nation.substack.com
The article discusses the potential impact of a Joe Biden presidential win on international students, with insights from immigration reporter Felipe De La Hoz. It suggests that if Trump's administration loses, there might be attempts to damage the immigration system before leaving office. The article speculates on the challenges and changes that could occur for international students, including visa issues and re-entry concerns. It concludes that while immediate improvements under Biden are unlikely, the situation for international students could gradually get better.

It's like winning the lottery

09 Oct 2020  |  i20nation.substack.com
The author shares their experience applying for the United States' Diversity Visa Lottery for the sixth year, encouraging others to apply as well. The program aims to bring in people from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S., and the author provides detailed instructions on how to apply. The text also mentions the list of ineligible countries and the benefits of winning the lottery, such as not needing visa sponsorship for jobs. The author expresses a mix of hope and bitterness about the process.

All about being an international student in the United States during these chaotic times.

30 Aug 2020  |  i20nation.substack.com
I20 NATION is a forthcoming resource and community for international students in the United States, offering stories, tips, and expert interviews. The author, a Fordham University graduate and former New York Times employee, will share insights on international student life, track immigration laws, and discuss personal experiences.

Subway Bathrooms: Are They as Bad as You Think?

27 Mar 2019  |  nytimes.com
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is not known for running a functional subway system, also oversees subway stations with bathrooms that have a reputation for being part of the city's underworld. However, the most shocking aspect might be the scarcity of these facilities, with only 51 operative restrooms across 472 stations, serving an average of 5.6 million weekday riders, equating to roughly one bathroom per 53,000 riders.

What’s Wrong With This Diorama? You Can Read All About It

20 Mar 2019  |  www.nytimes.com
The article discusses a diorama at the American Museum of Natural History that portrays a 17th-century encounter between Dutch settlers and the Lenape tribe in what is now New York City. Critics have pointed out that the diorama, created in 1939, shows a cultural hierarchy rather than a cultural exchange, with the Dutch depicted as fully clothed and dominant, while the Lenape are shown in loincloths and submissive poses. Museum officials acknowledge the historical inaccuracies and problematic stereotypes, which visual historian Bradley Pecore, of Menominee and Stockbridge Munsee descent, says still powerfully shape public perceptions of Indigenous people.

With 2020 in Sight, de Blasio Turns Against Amazon

21 Feb 2019  |  www.nytimes.com
Following Amazon's withdrawal of its plans to build a corporate campus in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has openly criticized the company, describing its decision as dictatorial and immature. This marks a stark change from his previous support, which included collaborating with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to overcome political obstacles for Amazon. The mayor expressed shock at the abrupt decision, conveyed to him by Amazon executive Jay Carney, and quickly shifted to a stance of outrage.

Winning Poet of the Natural World, Is Dead

17 Jan 2019  |  www.nytimes.com
Mary Oliver, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet known for her plain language and focus on the natural world, passed away at 83 in Hobe Sound, Florida. Her death was confirmed by her literary executor, Bill Reichblum. Oliver, who had been treated for lymphoma since 2015, authored over 20 volumes of verse, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 and a National Book Award in 1992. Her work, often featured in The New Yorker, resonated with a broad audience, including clerics, poetry therapists, composers, and celebrities. Despite her late-life fame, she remained a reluctant, bookish figure.

John C. Bogle, Founder of Financial Giant Vanguard, Is Dead at 89

16 Jan 2019  |  www.nytimes.com
John C. Bogle, the founder of Vanguard Group, passed away at 89 due to esophageal cancer. Vanguard, with $4.9 trillion in assets, was built on Bogle's belief in indexing and low-cost investment strategies. He was critical of high mutual fund fees and advocated for low-cost index funds. Bogle had a heart transplant in 1996 after a history of heart issues.

Michael Atiyah, Mathematician in Newton’s Footsteps, Dies at 89

11 Jan 2019  |  www.nytimes.com
Michael Atiyah, a renowned British mathematician who made significant contributions to the intersection of mathematics and physics, passed away at the age of 89. His work, particularly in collaboration with Isadore Singer, led to advancements in string theory and gauge theory, influencing both fields profoundly. Atiyah held prestigious positions at institutions such as the University of Edinburgh, Oxford, and Cambridge, and was a former president of the Royal Society. His contributions are celebrated for their impact on contemporary mathematics and physics.

Kevin Hart Will Host the 2019 Oscars

04 Dec 2018  |  www.nytimes.com
Kevin Hart will host the 91st Oscars ceremony on February 24, fulfilling a long-time goal. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has faced criticism in recent years for lack of diversity and inclusivity, highlighted by the #OscarsSoWhite and #MeToo movements. Hart, a prominent comedian and actor, joins a short list of African-American hosts in the show's history, including Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg, and Richard Pryor. The announcement comes as Hart continues his successful career with recent hits like 'Night School' and 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle'.

James H. Billington, 89, Dies; Led Library of Congress Into Digital Age

21 Nov 2018  |  www.nytimes.com
James H. Billington, who served as the librarian of Congress for nearly three decades, passed away at 89 due to complications of pneumonia. Appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, Billington significantly expanded the Library of Congress's collections and led its transition into the digital age, including the acquisition of Twitter's digital archive. Despite his achievements, his tenure faced criticism for management and technology failures. He retired in 2015 and was succeeded by Carla D. Hayden. Billington was a distinguished scholar of Russian and Soviet history and had a profound impact on the preservation and accessibility of cultural and historical artifacts.

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