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


EU agrees to catch more fish sustainably in 2018

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:30:15 UT

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union nations have agreed to set quota levels that ensure more sustainable fishing in the Northeastern Atlantic and the North Sea, but environmentalists insist the bloc is behind in its schedule to end overfishing by 2020. After marathon talks that ended early Wednesday, EU fisheries ministers said they added nine fish stocks — species of fish in defined geographical areas — to those that are managed sustainably, bringing the total to 53. Only nine years ago, when several key stocks were threatened with commercial extinction, the number stood at five.

EU approves Poland's program to develop clean energy

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:08:13 UT

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The European Union's executive body says it has approved Poland's 9.4 billion euro ($11 billion) plan for developing renewable energy sources. Heavily dependent on its coal for energy, Poland is among Europe's top carbon gas emitters and is facing pressure and receiving incentives to shift toward clean energy sources. The European Commission said in a statement Wednesday that, while observing EU rules for state aid and competition, it has approved the Polish government's plan for further development of renewable energy sources. It also approved a reduction of a levy put on high energy consumers who co-finance the plan.

Ex-king Michael's coffin arrives in Romania ahead of funeral

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:55:10 UT

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A coffin carrying the body of the late Romanian King Michael I arrived Wednesday at Bucharest's airport from Switzerland ahead of his funeral this weekend. The former king, who ruled Romania twice and was forced to abdicate by the communists in 1947, died on Dec. 5 in Switzerland at age 96. Michael's five daughters and his estranged grandson Nicholas Medforth-Mills, who was stripped of his title in 2015, took part in the ceremony at the airport, where flags were flown at half-mast. A military plane transported the coffin, which was covered in the royal coat of arms and placed on a dais.

UK pay rates up but still lagging behind price rises

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:43:53 UT

LONDON (AP) — Wages in Britain are beginning to creep up, official figures showed Wednesday, but are still lagging the rise in prices, meaning households continue to experience a real-terms pay cut as they prepare for Christmas. The Office for National Statistics said average weekly earnings in the three months through October were 2.5 percent higher than the year before when including bonus payments, notably from the financial sector, and up 2.3 percent when bonuses are excluded. Though up from the previous rates of 2.3 percent and 2.2 percent, pay growth is running lower than the equivalent 3 percent annual inflation rate recorded in October. Figures on Tuesday showed inflation up further in November to 3.

European Central Bank in no hurry to yank stimulus

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:12:12 UT

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Things are looking up for the European Central Bank. The 19-country eurozone economy is gathering speed. Higher oil prices should boost still-sluggish inflation, the bank's chief concern. And, so far, financial markets haven't panicked over the bank's Oct. 26 decision to scale back its bond-purchase stimulus program, to 30 billion euros ($35 billion) a month from 60 billion euros starting in January. So analysts aren't expecting big changes at Thursday's meeting of the bank's 25-member policy council at its skyscraper headquarters in Frankfurt.

France seeks ways to boost anti-jihadi force in Africa

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:01:16 UT

PARIS (AP) — Presidents, princes and diplomats are coming to Paris on Wednesday to breathe life into a young African military force that aims to counter the growing jihadi threat in the Sahel region. Nearly five years after France intervened to rout Islamist extremists in northern Mali, then controlled by an al-Qaida affiliate, the threat has spread to neighboring countries in the volatile region. It has also spawned new jihadi groups, including one that claims affiliation with the Islamic State group, recently defeated in Iraq and nearly pummeled in Syria. The five-nation force, known as G5 Sahel, was launched in Bamako, Mali on July 2 with French President Emmanuel Macron present.

UN court to hear appeal in Serbian lawmaker's acquittal

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 09:52:16 UT

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Prosecutors are set to explain to United Nations judges why they believe that the 2016 acquittal of a Serbian ultranationalist on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges should be overturned on appeal. Serbian lawmaker Vojislav Seselj, who was found not guilty of all nine charges against him at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, has vowed not to attend Wednesday's hearing in The Hague. At trial, prosecutors accused him of crimes including persecution, murder and torture and demanded a 28-year sentence for his support of Serb paramilitaries during the region's bitter, bloody wars in the early 1990s.

Spain: 9-month profit for Zara owner jumps on strong sales

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 09:23:15 UT

MADRID (AP) — The owner of Zara fashion stores said Wednesday that net profit surged by 6 percent in the first nine months of its fiscal year as it continued its international expansion with both online and physical stores. Inditex clothes retailer said net profit from February through October was 2.34 billion euros ($2.7 billion), compared with 2.2 billion euros for the same period last year. Sales rose 10 percent to 17.9 billion euros. The group was founded in 1975 by Amancio Ortega and has become the world's largest clothes retailer with eight brands, including Massimo Dutti, Bershka and Pull & Bear. It opened new stores in Belarus this summer and continued expanding in all markets, mostly in Asia.

Russia moves to block Khodorkovsky's news website

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:51:52 UT

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian communications watchdog has moved to block a news website financed by top Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The Russian Communications Oversight Agency said in a statement on Tuesday that it has put Khodorkovsky's Open Russia website on the black list after it received a request from the Prosecutor General's Office to block it. The prosecutors' plea came after Khodorkovsky's NGO was listed as an "undesirable" organization, a label stemming from a new law intended to tighten the Kremlin's tight control over the political landscape. Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, spent 10 years in prison on two sets of charges largely regarded as political retribution before he was pardoned in December 2013.

Russian court freezes assets of major conglomerate

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:28:29 UT

MOSCOW (AP) — Sprawling Russian conglomerate Sistema says a court has frozen some of its assets to secure a pending $2 billion lawsuit from Russia's largest oil company, the state-owned Rosneft. Rosneft, led by a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, last week sued Sistema for damages related to its ownership of oil company Bashneft that Rosneft bought last year. Sistema's CEO spent three months under house arrest in 2014 before money laundering charges related to its purchase of Bashneft were dropped. Russia then renationalized Bashneft, one of Russia's fastest-growing oil companies at the time, and Rosneft bought it last year.

Gas flows restored after explosion at Austrian hub

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:23:09 UT

BERLIN (AP) — The operator of a major natural gas hub in Austria where an explosion left one person dead and 21 injured says gas flow in all pipelines to and from the plant has been restored. The facility at Baumgarten an der March, east of Vienna, was taken offline after Tuesday's explosion, and gas transport to countries south and southeast of Austria, including Italy, was disrupted. Operator Gas Connect Austria said Tuesday evening that it would start restoring gas flows. On Wednesday, it said that "all transit systems are functional again in all directions and in service" and that gas supplies to Austria itself also are up and running.

State Dept. concerned by Polish fine on US-owned broadcaster

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 23:26:15 UT

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The United States says it is concerned by Poland's decision to impose a heavy fine on a private American-owned television broadcaster. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Tuesday that "this decision appears to undermine media freedom in Poland, a close ally and fellow democracy." Poland's media regulator fined TVN24 nearly 1.5 million zlotys ($420,000) Monday for what it alleged was unfair reporting during streets protests a year ago. TVN24's owner, TVN, said it would appeal what it called an "unfounded" penalty. Poland's ruling Law and Justice party took control of state media after winning power in 2015, and appears to be seeking greater control of private media now.

Poland's PM: we don't want a divided Europe of 2 speeds

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 22:54:48 UT

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's new prime minister told parliament Tuesday that his government opposes what he called a two-speed European Union that he said divides nations into better and worse ones. Mateusz Morawiecki outlined his foreign and domestic policies in a speech to lawmakers a day after he was sworn in and given the task of boosting the economy and Poland's image abroad. Later, the lower house, which is dominated by the ruling party, voted 243-192 with no abstentions to approve Morawiecki's new governing team. A 49-year-old former international banker, Morawiecki succeeds Beata Szydlo at the helm of the same ruling Law and Justice party team.

In rare visit, UN expert pleads with Venezuela

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 21:01:48 UT

GENEVA (AP) — An independent expert for the U.N.'s top human rights body said Tuesday that he pleaded with Venezuela's government to release more than 20 people in custody and is optimistic other U.N. experts will be let in. Alfred de Zayas said he met with 16 government ministers, opposition groups, and "victims of repression" during what he called the first visit by a U.N. rights expert to Venezuela since 1996. "I have succeeded in opening the door," de Zayas told a news conference. "After 21 years, Venezuela has accepted a U.N. expert to spend eight days there." He said the government didn't give him any "problems.

Iceland closes gender gap but violence against women remains

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:34:35 UT

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — For nine years in a row, the World Economic Forum has ranked Iceland as having the world's smallest gender-equality gap, and for about as long gender studies professor Gyda Margret Petursdottir has been asked how the Nordic island nation became such a paradise for women. Her reply: "It isn't." Iceland has a female prime minister and some of the world's strongest laws on workplace equality and equal pay. It also has one of Europe's highest per-capita levels of reported rapes, according to statistics agency Eurostat, although legal definitions differ from country to country, complicating comparisons.

Muslim leaders to convene extraordinary summit for Jerusalem

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:19:59 UT

ISTANBUL (AP) — Leaders and high-ranking officials of Muslim countries will meet Wednesday in Istanbul for an extraordinary summit to discuss "repercussions" from the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation session aims to produce a "unified Islamic position." The umbrella organization of 57-members called U.S. President Donald Trump's statement last week an "illegal decision" and a "serious escalation." Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan_OIC's term president_has been vehemently critical of the U.S. move and said Monday the leaders would relay a "strong message.

NATO prolongs chief Stoltenberg's term for 2 more years

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:40:25 UT

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO on Tuesday extended Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg's tenure for two more years as head of the world's biggest military alliance, setting him up to be its longest-serving civilian leader since the end of the Cold War. Stoltenberg, 58, has held the post since 2014 and his term has been marked by a spike in global security challenges, including a resurgent Russia and the rise of the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. NATO said in a statement that its 29 member nations decided to prolong the former Norwegian prime minister's term until Sept. 30, 2020.

Austria: 1 dead, 21 hurt in explosion at natural gas plant

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:34:41 UT

BERLIN (AP) — An explosion Tuesday at a major natural gas facility near Austria's border with Slovakia killed one person and left 21 others injured, and caused some gas flow disruptions to other countries, authorities said. One person was seriously injured and 20 others were slightly hurt in the morning blast at the plant in Baumgarten an der March, east of Vienna, police said. No one was in a life-threatening condition. The facility's operator initially said all the casualties were Austrian, but later said the one with less severe injuries include employees of contractors from six other countries. The explosion set off a fire, which operator Gas Connect said was completely extinguished by mid-afternoon.

Italy: helicopters ferry flood victims to safety

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:30:41 UT

MILAN (AP) — Italian firefighters used helicopters and rubber dinghies to evacuate stranded residents of a town in the northern region of Emilia Romagna that flooded when waters overran earthen dikes. Video provided by firefighters Tuesday shows houses under water after the Enza River flooded its reinforced banks in the town of Lentigione. The news agency ANSA said about 1,000 people were evacuated, but a woman who answered the phone at the city hall was unable to confirm the numbers. Firefighters also rescued three people and a dog with a rubber dinghy from the town of Colorno when the Parma river flooded.

Most fake bomb calls that beset Russia coming from Syria

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:15:31 UT

MOSCOW (AP) — A top Russian official says most of the fake bomb calls that have plagued cities across Russia have come from Syria. Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov said Tuesday in remarks carried by Russian news agencies that most of the anonymous calls came from areas controlled by "terrorists" in Syria. Russia has waged a military campaign in Syria since September 2015, allowing Syrian President Bashar Assad's government to win back control over most of the country. Zubov said fake bomb threats have also come from Turkey, Ukraine, the U.S. and Canada, and a few calls came from the ex-Soviet nations of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.