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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Europe Europe News from the Associated Press


UN panel urges China to release and compensate 3 activists

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 15:01:41 UT

GENEVA (AP) — A group of independent experts appointed by the U.N.'s main human rights body say China's government has wrongly held three activists and is calling for them to be released and compensated. The five-member Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in an opinion reached in August but not yet made public, says detentions of Hu Shigen, Xie Yang and Zhou Shifeng violate the International Convention on Human Rights. Britain's Guardian first reported the information, having obtained a copy of the opinion which has been presented to China's government and concerned parties but is still undergoing fine-tuning. U.N. staffers confirmed the opinion of the group to The Associated Press on Friday.

UNICEF: Rohingya children refugees face 'hell on earth'

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:53:22 UT

GENEVA (AP) — UNICEF says the children who make up most of the nearly 600,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in Myanmar are seeing a "hell on earth" in overcrowded, muddy and squalid refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh. The U.N. children's agency issued a report that documents the plight of children who account for 58 percent of the refugees who have poured into Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, over the last eight weeks. Report author Simon Ingram says about one in five children in the area are "acutely malnourished." The report comes ahead of a donor conference Monday in Geneva to drum up funding for the Rohingya.

Man attacks people at shopping mall in Poland, 1 dead

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 15:06:34 UT

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A man attacked people with a knife Friday at a shopping mall in southeastern Poland, killing one person and sending seven others to the hospital with wounds, police said. Andrzej Wierszyna, spokesman for the police in the town of Stalowa Wola, said the attack took place Friday afternoon with a sharp tool at one of the town's malls. The man, a 27-year-old Polish resident of the town, has been detained, he told The Associated Press. Police officer Anna Klee was quoted by the PAP news agency as saying the weapon was a knife and a 50-year-old woman died in the hospital. "He was attacking people from behind, hitting them with the knife," Klee told PAP.

Police: 8 people hospitalized in southeast Poland after man attacks them with a sharp tool at a shopping mall

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:43:00 UT

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Police: 8 people hospitalized in southeast Poland after man attacks them with a sharp tool at a shopping mall.

BMW offices get 'inspection' in preliminary collusion probe

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:39:30 UT

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — BMW said Friday that European Commission staff conducted an "inspection" at company offices in Munich earlier this week in connection with news media allegations that German carmakers colluded on technology including diesel emission controls. BMW said it was assisting the European Union's executive arm in its work and that the inspection did not mean a formal antitrust investigation had been opened. Der Spiegel magazine has reported that German car companies cooperated on issues including limiting the size of tanks holding fluid intended to reduce diesel emissions. The issue is getting attention because testing has shown that many diesel cars exceed pollution test standards in everyday driving.

Merkel seeks EU's patience as Germany forms new government

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:35:42 UT

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is asking her European Union partners for patience in discussing the bloc's future as she embarks on efforts to form a new government. Germany's Sept. 24 election left the conservative Merkel trying to form a new, untried coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats and traditionally left-leaning Greens. Exploratory talks opened Wednesday and were stepping up Friday, with all potential partners getting together for the first time. Talks are scheduled through Nov. 2, but it's likely to be weeks or months before they conclude. Merkel said in Brussels on Friday that talks will feature issues such as the eurozone's future.

Romanian prosecutors want prison sentence for ex-politician

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:32:28 UT

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Prosecutors have called for a prison sentence and a 700,000-euro ($826,000) fine for a former top Romanian politician on trial for influence peddling. Prosecutors asked Friday for a prison sentence for the offense — which carries a maximum penalty of seven years — for Vasile Blaga. He denies wrongdoing. Prosecutors said Blaga had received the money from 2009-2012, most of it from the Liberal-Democratic Party deputy chairman Gheorghe Stefan, who is also on trial, in return for telling ministers to appoint party donors as the managers of state companies. Stefan reportedly made the donors pay to get a chance for the jobs. Blaga was then the leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Russia hands over fighter jets to Serbia

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:18:05 UT

BATAJNICA, Serbia (AP) — Russia formally handed over six MiG-29 fighter jets to Serbia Friday, part of an arms delivery that has the potential to accentuate tensions in the war-weary Balkans. The ceremony at a military airport close to the Serbian capital, Belgrade was attended by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. "Thank you for these beautiful gifts," Vucic told Shoigu at the ceremony, which was accompanied by an air show and attended by tens of thousands of visitors. "These planes are not a threat to anyone, but show that no one can attack Serbia unpunished," he said.

Power to the people: 2 Italy regions to hold autonomy votes

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:58:58 UT

VERONA, Italy (AP) — It is greater autonomy __ not independence __ that two of Italy's wealthiest regions are seeking in a pair of referendums Sunday, yet Catalonia's secessionist ambitions in nearby Spain loom large over the debate. While the presidents of Lombardy and Veneto in northern Italy are campaigning on the economic benefits of loosening Rome's grip, identity politics also is playing a role, particularly in Veneto, heir to the once-vast Venetian Republic, where a political fringe has never given up on secession even though that's been long abandoned by the governing Northern League party.

France's Macron: Trump pushes EU closer together

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:42:32 UT

BRUSSELS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron says the uncertainty about U.S. President Donald Trump's foreign policies has made European countries closer. Macron said at a European Union summit on Friday that Trump's actions "reinforce the need for unity and clarity" from the EU. The French leader says a united voice is important for international discussions about Iran and North Korea's nuclear activities, and about Europe's own defense programs. Macron said a "less-clear strategy from the United States" under Trump has "catalyzed" EU cooperation. Leaders of EU member countries reaffirmed at their summit support for the accord curbing Iran's nuclear activities.

Report: Police informant may have incited Berlin attacker

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:21:12 UT

BERLIN (AP) — German media report that the Tunisian man who carried out a deadly truck attack in Berlin last year may have been incited by a police informant. Daily Berliner Morgenpost reported Friday that a police informant codenamed VP-01 is suspected of having encouraged several Islamic extremists to carry out violent attacks. The newspaper reports that the man, who was a source for police in North-Rhine Westphalia state, had lengthy contact with truck attacker Anis Amri. The western state's top security official, Herbert Reul, said Friday that all information on the case had been passed to prosecutors and "if there were mistakes in the past, they will be clearly named.

Hurricanes, earthquakes estimated to cost insurers $95B

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:16:32 UT

GENEVA (AP) — Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as two recent earthquakes in Mexico likely cost the insurance industry about $95 billion, said Swiss Re, one of the world's biggest reinsurers. The Zurich-based company, which as a reinsurer provides backup policies to companies that write primary insurance policies, said Friday that the claims process is ongoing and estimates could evolve. Swiss Re expects its own payouts linked to the natural disasters will be about $3.6 billion, including $175 million for the Mexico earthquakes alone. A company statement didn't break down the costs by hurricane.

Czechs begin voting in parliamentary election

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:02:32 UT

PRAGUE (AP) — Citizens of the Czech Republic are voting in a parliamentary election that could install another euroskeptic government in Central Europe. Two days of balloting that started Friday are being held to fill 200 seats in the lower house of Parliament. The centrist ANO (YES) movement led by populist billionaire Andrej Babis was the front-runner heading into the election. Polls show he is likely to become the next prime minister despite allegations of fraud linked to EU subsidies. The president usually asks the leader of the strongest party in Parliament's lower house to try to form a new government.

Europe's easy money taps to be tightened — very slightly

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:01:30 UT

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The economy of the 19 countries that use the euro currency is growing ever stronger, and it's time for the European Central Bank to start telling the public how it will phase out its extraordinary stimulus measures. But rest assured: The era of easy money isn't ending just yet in Europe, say analysts. The bank will ease off its month bond-buying stimulus slowly — and interest rates likely won't be raised for nearly another two years. While ECB President Mario Draghi and other officials have said that they will decide on some aspects of stimulus withdrawal at their meeting Thursday, they have also gone to great lengths to underline that stimulus will end very, very gently.

Butter shortage in France amid global demand for pastries

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:52:24 UT

PARIS (AP) — Blame the croissant. French pastries and butter have become so popular abroad that the increased demand led to a mini shortage of the dairy product in French supermarkets. The price of butter has risen 60 percent in a year to reach 6.7 euros ($7.9) per kilogram in August, according to official data, creating problems for pastry exporters and fears of a shortage in France of Christmas delicacies such as the traditional Yule Log dessert. French regions like Brittany and Normandy have reportedly been hit hardest by the butter shortage, which is also linked to a drop in milk supply in Europe.

Syrian refugee detained in Greece on terror charge

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:37:28 UT

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — A Syrian refugee has been arrested in northern Greece on terrorism-related charges following a review of his asylum application, police said Friday. Authorities said the 32-year-old man was detained Thursday in the northeast city of Alexandroupolis as a suspected fighter of the Islamic State group while in Syria. The man, who hasn't been named, traveled to a Greek island from Turkey last year and lives in the northern city of Thessaloniki with his wife and two children. He denied the charges and shouted "they are liars" to reporters, before appearing at a public prosecutor's office Friday. He was given until Monday to prepare his defense, but remained in custody.

Wild boars rampage through German town, injure at least 4

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:09:57 UT

BERLIN (AP) — Police say a pair of wild boars have gone on the rampage and injured at least four people in the northern German town of Heide. Authorities warned people to stay indoors after the adult boars appeared early Friday and began aggressively attacking pedestrians. Public broadcaster NDR reported that at least one man had a finger partially bitten off. Police said one of the boars was shot and killed outside a bank but the other is still on the run. Heide is 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Hamburg, near Germany's North Sea coast and the border with Denmark.

French President Macron says Brexit talks are not even 'halfway' to resolution; not ready to pass to trade phase

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:59:44 UT

BRUSSELS (AP) — French President Macron says Brexit talks are not even 'halfway' to resolution; not ready to pass to trade phase.

EU weighs cutting pre-membership funds to troubling Turkey

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:57:36 UT

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is studying whether and how to cut pre-membership funds to Turkey over alleged human rights abuses and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's hostile rhetoric about Europe. EU Council President Donald Tusk said Friday that the European Commission, which supervises EU laws, has been asked "to reflect on whether to cut and re-orient the pre-accession funds." Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says "two or three options" are under evaluation. Tusk told reporters after chairing a summit of EU leaders that the 28-nation bloc wants "to keep the door open to Ankara, but the current reality in Turkey is making this difficult.

Romanian border police take 28 migrants into custody

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:37:26 UT

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanian border police have taken into custody 28 migrants who are suspected of trying to cross into Hungary illegally. The border police agency said in a statement that the group of nine women, eight men and 11 children was spotted close to the Hungarian border early Friday and couldn't explain why they were in the area. The agency says they originally were from Afghanistan, India, Iran and Iraq and had been living in refugee centers around Romania after registering as asylum-seekers. Border agents took the group into custody for investigation. The travelers told police they wanted to reach Western Europe. Hungary is a member of the Schengen visa-free travel area, but Romania isn't.