Merkel removes spy chief to defuse row over far-right

by Frank ZELLER and Michelle FITZPATRICK in Frankfurt Agence France Presse BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — Angela Merkel’s government on Tuesday removed domestic spy chief Hans-Georg Maassen from office, transferring him to a different post to end an explosive row over immigration and the far right that once more rocked the German chancellor’s fragile coalition. “Mr Maassen will become state secretary in the interior ministry,” Merkel and the leaders of her coalition parties announced in a […]

Sex abuse claims rock Dutch Catholic Church

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AFP) — More than half of the Netherlands’ senior clerics were involved in covering up sexual assault of children between 1945 and 2010, a press report claimed Saturday, further engulfing the Catholic Church in a global abuse scandal. Over the course of 65 years, 20 of 39 Dutch cardinals, bishops and their auxiliaries “covered up sexual abuse, allowing the perpetrators to cause many more victims”, the daily NRC reported. “Four abused children […]

Spain PM defends sending weapons to Saudis after U-turn

MADRID, Spain (AFP) — Spain’s prime minister on Sunday defended his government’s controversial decision to go ahead with the delivery of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, saying it was needed to preserve good ties with the Gulf state. His Socialist government announced earlier this month that it would block the delivery of the weapons amid concerns that they could harm civilians in Yemen where Saudi Arabi is engaged in a bloody conflict. But on Thursday Foreign […]

Man drives car into crowd in southern France, wounding two

NIMES, France (AFP) — A man drove into a crowd of patrons gathered outside a bar in the southern city of Nimes early Friday, slightly wounding two before hitting a security barrier and being arrested, witnesses and local officials said. The 32-year-old suspect, believed to be a local, sped towards a crowd of about 50 outside the bar at around 1:00 am (2300 GMT Thursday), witnesses at the scene told AFP. However, his white Peugeot […]

Skripal suspects say were in UK as tourists, deny murder attempt

by Anna Smolchenko Agence France Presse MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Two men accused by London of poisoning former Moscow spy Sergei Skripal denied involvement in the murder attempt in a bizarre Russian media interview Thursday that Britain dismissed as “an insult to the public’s intelligence”. Speaking with the head of the Kremlin-backed RT news network, the pair confirmed they were the men whose pictures British authorities released this month, but insisted they were visiting the […]

Catholic priests abused more than 3,600 children in Germany, says study

BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — More than 3,600 children were sexually assaulted by Catholic priests in Germany over nearly seven decades, local media reported Wednesday, citing a study commissioned by the German Bishops Conference. The damning report, which Cardinal Reinhard Marx is to present officially on September 25, deals another blow to the Church after clerical child abuse has been uncovered worldwide. According to the study, 1,670 clergymen in Germany committed some form of sexual attack […]

Putin says Russia and China to reduce use of dollar in trade

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (AFP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said Moscow and Beijing plan to use their own national currencies more often in trade deals as Russia’s relations with the West deteriorate. “The Russian and Chinese sides confirmed their interest in using national currencies more actively in reciprocal payments,” Putin told journalists during a press briefing with Chinese Leader Xi Jinping after talks at an economic forum in the far eastern Russian city of […]

7 wounded in Paris knife attack, including British, Egyptian tourists

  by Gregory Danel / Romain Fonsegrives  Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — A man believed to be an Afghan national was being held in custody Monday as the suspect in an attack with a knife and an iron bar in Paris that left seven people injured, including three foreign tourists, police said. In the attack next to a canal in the northeast of the capital on Sunday evening, the suspect, believed to be […]

Sweden seeks new government as nationalist influence grows

by Gaël  Branchereau and Camille Bas-Wohlert Agence France Presse STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AFP) — Sweden is headed for a period of uncertainty after legislative elections saw the far-right make gains, raising three questions: Who won? Who will govern? And with whom? The prime minister is usually the leader of the party with the most votes, but Sweden’s fragmented political landscape after Sunday’s election makes it impossible to guess who will form the next government. As expected, […]

Quake hits remote New Zealand islands, no tsunami warning

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — A strong 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand’s remote Kermadec Islands on Wednesday but authorities said there was no tsunami threat. The quake struck at 4.19pm (0419GMT) at a depth of 111 kilometres (69 miles), with its epicentre 770 kilometres northeast of Auckland, the US Geological Survey said. “Based on all available data, there is no tsunami threat from this earthquake,” the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. The uninhabited […]

7 wounded including 2 British tourists in Paris knife attack

by Gregory DANEL / Romain FONSEGRIVES Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) – Seven people including two British tourists were wounded Sunday in Paris after they were attacked by a man armed with a knife and an iron bar, according to police and other sources. A source close to the inquiry said the suspect, believed to be an Afghan national, has been arrested. “Nothing at this stage shows signs of a terrorist nature in these assaults,” […]

British Airways hacked with details of 380,000 bank cards stolen

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — British Airways said that the personal and financial details of customers making bookings between August 21 and September 5 had been stolen in a data breach involving 380,000 bank cards. The almost two week long hack did not involve travel or passport details, the airline said, adding that it had launched an urgent investigation into the theft of customer data. “The personal and financial details of customers making bookings on […]