Sat04192014

Last update06:17:15 PM GMT

Europe

German parliament confirms Angel Merkel for new term

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Merkell

Angela Merkel has been confirmed as German chancellor for a third term, at the head of a grand coalition, by a vote in the Bundestag (parliament).

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Russia cuts Ukraine gas price by a third

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The cost of Russian gas supplied to Ukraine has been slashed from more than $400 (£245; 291 euros) per 1,000 cubic metres to $268.5.

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Huge rally in Kiev in support of closer ties with EU

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Some 200,000 people have rallied in the Ukrainian capital Kiev to protest against President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign a landmark EU deal.

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Ukraine crisis: Western diplomats bid to end stand-off

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Top Western diplomats are arriving in Kiev as police move to break the blockade of Ukrainian government buildings by pro-EU protesters.

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Deadly storm and tidal surge batter northern Europe

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STORM

A major storm has hit northern Europe, leaving at least three people dead, causing transport chaos and threatening the biggest tidal surge in decades.

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Vatican setting up commission against sexual abuse of minors

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Pope Francis is creating a commission to prevent the abuse of minors and to support victims of abuse, Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley announced Thursday in Rome.

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Latvian government falls over Riga supermarket disaster

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Latvia's PM Valdis Dombrovskis has announced his resignation, and thereby the fall of his government, over the deadly collapse of a Riga supermarket.

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Russian authorities release most of Greenpeace protest group

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Russian authorities have released from jail most of the members of a Greenpeace group arrested on their ship in September while protesting oil drilling in the Arctic.

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Paris police issue second photo of Liberation newspaper shooting suspect

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French police have released a second photo of the man suspected of shooting a photographer at the daily newspaper Liberation Monday, as their manhunt continues.

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Terribly disfigured man who was hugged by the Pope tells his story

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MAN ONE

Vinicio Riva, from Vicenza in northern Italy, is covered from head-to-toe by the growths, a symptom of his genetic disease neorofibramatosis.

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Russian jetliner crashes; 50 dead

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russia plane crash

A Russian jetliner crashed on landing in the city of Kazan, killing all 50 aboard, authorities there reported Sunday.

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In Madrid, street cleaners vote to end strike

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MADRID

Street cleaners voted on Sunday afternoon to end a strike that has left trash piling up for two weeks in the Spanish capital, after union and management representatives reached a deal in marathon overnight negotiations, a union leader said.

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German police check new art haul near Stuttgart

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Police and art experts are checking 22 artworks found in southwest Germany which may be linked to the huge hoard of art treasures seized in Munich.

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EU negotiators clinch deal on 2014 budget

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Negotiators in Brussels have clinched a deal on the 2014 EU budget after a night of hard talks, cutting spending by about 6% compared to 2013.

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Italy and Malta say EU must press Libya to stop boat migration

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MIGRANTS

Italy on Monday called on the European Union to press Libya to stem the gangs smuggling migrants from Africa on overcrowded boats and prevent shipwrecks like the one that killed hundreds last month.

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Top EU court ruling backs gay African asylum bids

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The EU's top court has ruled that homosexuals from Sierra Leone, Uganda and Senegal who fear imprisonment in their home country have grounds for asylum in EU member states.

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German call for inquiry into British embassy 'spying'

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The head of the German parliament's intelligence committee has called for inquiries into alleged spying by the British embassy in Berlin.

Thomas Oppermann said the committee had asked both Germany's law enforcement services and its intelligence services to investigate the alleged "crime".

A member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat (CDU) party mooted a formal "no-spy" agreement with the UK.

The UK's ambassador was asked to attend the German foreign ministry on Tuesday.

Simon McDonald met Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, an embassy spokeswoman said, without giving details.

According to the German foreign ministry, the head of its European Department asked for a response to the reported espionage and pointed out that the "interception of communications from the premises of a diplomatic mission would be behaviour contrary to international law".

German media seized on a report in the UK's Independent newspaper which alleges that a tent-like structure on top of the embassy is an electronic listening post.

An espionage expert, Professor Richard Aldrich, told the UK's Press Association: "We now have documentary evidence to show that Britain regularly runs covert listening stations out of embassies and consulates, as does everybody else."

'Scandal and crime'

The Independent's report was based on US National Security Agency (NSA) documents leaked by fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

"Spying carried out from the British embassy would be a scandal and a crime," Thomas Oppermann, who chairs the Bundestag's intelligence committee, told BBC News on Wednesday.

He is a member of the Social Democrats (SPD), who are likely to become the junior partner in a future German coalition headed by Mrs Merkel.

"We have asked the law enforcement agencies to investigate," Mr Oppermann added. "We have also asked the German secret services to look into espionage by allies. From now on we work on the principle 'Trust is good, monitoring is better.'"

On the matter of Mr Snowden, he said: "We have asked the government to look into ways of speaking to Mr Snowden in Moscow, provided there is no risk or threat posed to him."

CDU MP Wolfgang Bosbach was quoted as saying by Germany's Spiegel magazine that a "no-spy agreement" needed to be signed with the UK.

"Such full-blown spying is completely inacceptable and must be dealt with," he said.

According to the Independent, the tent structure has been in place since the new British embassy was opened in 2000.

Equipment within the unit "would be capable of intercepting mobile phone calls, wi-fi data and long-distance communications across the German capital", the paper said.

Earlier revelations that the US had listened to mobile phone calls made by Mrs Merkel since 2002 led to a serious diplomatic crisis between Washington and Berlin.

Richard Aldrich, Warwick University's professor of international security, said "economic and political intelligence would be a high priority" for use in negotiations - for example, between London and Brussels.

"Just think about the amount of friendly spying about the Maastricht Treaty in the 1990s," he added.

BBC

How do illegal immigrants get into the European Union?

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SEA

The death of more than 300 African migrants in a shipwreck off the Italian island of Lampedusa in early October has shone a spotlight on illegal immigration to Europe.

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Storm cuts power for 220,000 homes in Britain; 2 dead, 1 missing

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FLOODS

A major Atlantic storm pummeled southern England early Monday, knocking out power for about 220,000 homes and blocking roads and railways with fallen trees.

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Italy data 'targeted in UK-US spy operation'

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ITALY DATA

UK and US intelligence services have been spying on Italy's phone and internet traffic on a huge scale, the Italian weekly L'Espresso reports.

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US spying 'may harm terror fight'

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EU leaders meeting in Brussels said distrust of the US over spying could harm the fight against terrorism.

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