France, Germany strengthen treaty ties to tackle EU crisis

by Laurence Benhamou Agence France Presse France and Germany on Tuesdasy signed a new friendship treaty to deepen their alliance at a time of crisis for the EU, drawing fire from the far right whom President Emmanuel Macron slapped down for “spreading lies” about the pact. Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel inked the accord to deepen ties as Britain prepares to leave the European Union and tensions are rising with populist leaders in the […]

EasyJet takes £15m hit from London airport drone chaos

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — British no-frills airline EasyJet on Tuesday said closure of London’s Gatwick Airport on December 21 caused by reported sightings of drones had cost the group £15 million ($19.2 million, 17 million euros). EasyJet said it had lost £5.0 million in revenue and taken a hit of £10 million on passenger costs. “EasyJet has made a good start to the 2019 financial year with robust customer demand and ancillary sales, driving […]

14 dead after fire on two vessels off Crimea

MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Fourteen people were killed and five were missing off Crimea in the Black Sea on Monday after a fire engulfed gas tankers sailing under the flag of Tanzania, authorities said. “There are 11 bodies,” Alexei Kravchenko, spokesman for Russia’s Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport, told AFP. “Another three people went under water before rescue workers’ eyes.” Those three are most likely dead, he said. The ships, the Kandy and […]

British PM turns to Brexit ‘Plan B’

by Robin MILLARD Agence France Presse LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May unveils her Brexit “Plan B” to parliament on Monday after MPs shredded her EU divorce deal, deepening the political gridlock 10 weeks from departure day. Britain will leave the European Union on March 29 without a deal unless MPs can force a delay or get their act together in time and come up with an alternative plan that Brussels […]

Thousands protest in Berlin against industrialised agriculture

BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — Thousands of protesters, backed by a procession of farm tractors, marched in Berlin Saturday for environmental protection and against the industrial agriculture lobby. Police put the number of demonstrators at over 12,000, while organizers said 35,000 turned out. While the “Grune Woche” international agricultural fair was taking place in the German capital, the protesters took aim at government policy which prioritized large-scale farming, deemed damaging to health and the environment, to […]

Two dead, 25 hurt in French ski resort fire

LYON, France (AFP) — Two people died Sunday and 25 more were injured, four seriously, in a fire at the ski resort of Courchevel in the French Alps, officials said. The pre-dawn blaze forced the evacuation of some 60 resort workers, including foreigners, from a three-storey accommodation building. Firefighters found the two unidentified bodies in a burnt-out area of the building in the upmarket Courchevel 1850 ski station. Three of the four badly injured were […]

Police link N. Ireland car bomb to ‘New IRA’

Police investigating a suspected car bombing in the Northern Irish city of Londonderry said Sunday they believe dissident republican group the New IRA to be responsible. The suspected bomb exploded at 8:10 pm (2010 GMT) on Saturday, as police were evacuating the area following a warning that a device had been planted outside the city courthouse. There were no casualties. “Our main line of inquiry is against the New IRA,” said Police Service of Northern Ireland assistant […]

Thousands protest in Athens against Macedonian accord

  Scuffles broke out in central Athens Sunday as tens of thousands of people protested a planned name change for neighbouring Macedonia that parliament is due to ratify this week. After some 30 masked youths tried to force the closure of the parliament building by throwing stones, riot police responded with tear gas volleys to break up the crowd there. Hundreds of buses, especially from northern Greece, had brought protesters in for the rally, on […]

Macron’s debate put to test as ‘yellow vests’ stage tenth protest

by Clare BYRNE Agence Franc Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — France’s “yellow vests” took to the streets on Saturday for a 10th straight weekend of anti-government protests, defying attempts by President Emmanuel Macron to channel their anger into a series of town hall debates. A police source said the authorities expected the protests to be “at least as big as last week” when over 80,000 people demonstrated over inequality, the privileges enjoyed by senior public […]

Swedish lawmakers elect PM Lofven to second term

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AFP) — Sweden ended a four-month political vacuum Friday when lawmakers elected Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to a second term, after he elbowed out the far-right to save one of Europe’s few left-wing governments. Lofven’s new minority center-left government — comprising his Social Democrats and the Greens — won the backing of the Centre and Liberal parties, until now members of the four-party centre-right opposition Alliance. © Agence France-Presse

Albanian PM plays for ‘likes’ with social media savvy

by Briseida MEMA Agence France Presse TIRANA, Albania (AFP) — Armed with quirky web humour and pop references, Albania’s spunky Prime Minister Edi Rama is embracing the art of the internet meme, waging political battles online across an arsenal of social networks. When student protesters refused his offer for negotiations last month, the 54-year-old leader beckoned them on Instagram. But his call for dialogue was not a staid plea filmed behind a desk, but rather […]

UK PM May says ‘impossible’ to rule out no-deal Brexit

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday said it was “impossible” for her to rule out a no-deal Brexit without stopping the process altogether, as she tries to come up with a strategy before exit day on March 29. May was responding to a letter from opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asking her to exclude crashing out of the EU as a precondition for talks about Brexit compromise proposals. May […]