French Police Hunt for Assailant Who Shot, Wounded Orthodox Priest

A Greek Orthodox priest was shot and injured Saturday at a church in the center of the French city of Lyon by an assailant who then fled, a police source and witnesses said.The priest was fired on twice around 4 p.m. (1500 GMT) as he was closing the church, and he was being treated for life-threatening injuries, the source said.Lyon, FranceWitnesses said the church was Greek Orthodox. Another police source said the priest was of Greek nationality and had been able to tell emergency services as they arrived that he had not recognized his assailant.A Greek government official identified the priest as Nikolaos Kakavelakis.There was no indication from French officials that the attack was related to terrorism. The French anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office had not been brought in, as is normal …

Armenia, Azerbaijan Trade Fresh Accusations of Karabakh Shelling 

Armenia and Azerbaijan once more accused each other of bombing residential areas on Saturday, in defiance of a pact to avoid the deliberate targeting of civilians in and around the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.   Shelling was reported by both sides within hours of the latest agreement to defuse the conflict, reached after talks in Geneva between the two countries’ foreign ministers and envoys from France, Russia and the United States.   The agreement with the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group fell short of what would have been a fourth ceasefire since fighting began on Sept. 27. The death toll in the worst fighting in the South Caucasus for more than 25 years has surpassed 1,000 and is possibly much higher.   Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is populated and controlled …

Security Remains High in France After Deadly Knife Attack at Church in Nice 

Security throughout France was high Saturday after this week’s deadly stabbings at a church in Nice as President Emmanuel Macron tried to ease tensions in the country. French leaders have termed Thursday’s incident an Islamist terrorist attack after the perpetrator shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) as he decapitated a woman and killed two others in Notre Dame Basilica in Nice. Thursday’s attack followed the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty earlier this month after the republication of the Prophet Muhammad by the Paris-based satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.  Macron triggered protests in the Muslim world after the murder of Paty, who showed a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad to his class, by saying France would never renounce its right to caricature. On Saturday, though, Macron sounded a more empathetic tone in an interview with Arab …

Former James Bond Actor Sean Connery Dies Aged 90 

Scottish movie legend Sean Connery, who shot to international stardom as the suave, sexy and sophisticated British agent James Bond and went on to grace the silver screen for four decades, has died aged 90. The BBC and Sky News reported his death on Saturday. “I was heartbroken to learn this morning of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons,” said Scottish First Minster Nicola Sturgeon. “Sean was a global legend but, first and foremost, he was a patriotic and proud Scot.”    Connery was raised in near poverty in the slums of Edinburgh and worked as a coffin polisher, milkman and lifeguard before his bodybuilding hobby helped launch an acting career that made him one of the world’s biggest stars.    …

Deadly Earthquake Warms Relations Between Greece and Turkey 

Rescue teams on both sides of the Aegean Sea searched Saturday through crushed buildings and concrete rubble, pulling out at least 27 dead and hundreds more injured after a powerful earthquake toppled buildings in the Turkish city of İzmir and created sea surges on at least two Greek islands.    At least 60 separate aftershocks have jolted the Greek islands of Samos and Ikaria since the deadly 7.0 earthquake hit the region, experts in Athens said Saturday.   Damaged buildings at the port town of Vathy following an earthquake, on the island of Samos, Greece, Oct. 30, 2020. (Samos24.gr via Reuters)The powerful tremor originated from a 250-kilometers-long fault line off the coast of Samos, streaming across the Aegean Sea that divides the two adversaries.   Yet just hours after Greece and Turkey were struck by …

At Least 27 Dead as Powerful Quake Hits Major Turkish City, Greek Islands

Rescue teams in Turkey working around the clock recovered another body Saturday from the rubble of a collapsed building in Bayrakli district in Izmir struck by a strong earthquake.The quake hit Turkey’s third-largest city and a nearby Greek island on Friday morning, killing at least 27 people and injuring more than 800.Haluk Ozener, director of the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute, said that Izmir was the hardest-hit and most-damaged area.Izmir’s Governor Yavuz Selim Kosger said at least 70 people were rescued from the wreckage of four destroyed buildings and from more than 10 other collapsed structures.As the quake hit, residents were seen running into the streets in panic in Izmir, which has a population of 4 million.The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of …

Thousands in Warsaw Join Biggest Protest so far Against Abortion Ruling

Tens of thousands of Poles joined a march Friday in Warsaw, the biggest in nine days of protests against a ruling by the country’s top court last week that amounted to a near-total ban on abortion in the predominantly Catholic nation.Defying strict rules that restrict gatherings to five people during the coronavirus pandemic, demonstrators walked through central Warsaw streets carrying black umbrellas, a symbol of abortion rights protests in Poland, and banners that read “I think, I feel, I decide” or “God is a woman.”Military police, some in riot gear, lined the streets as the demonstration began.Organizers and the city of Warsaw said some 100,000 people took part, one of the largest protest gatherings in years, following a Constitutional Court ruling on Oct. 22 outlawing abortions because of fetal defects. …

Pope Francis Focused on Fighting Vatican Corruption

Pope Francis said he is focused on fighting corruption in the Catholic Church, despite the challenges.”I know I have to do it (fight corruption), I was called to do it, but it will be the Lord to decide if I did well or not. Sincerely, I am not very optimistic,” he said during an interview Friday with Italian news agency AdnKronos.Pope Francis also said he is not deterred by criticisms in whatever area, noting he takes them “on board because it can lead to self-examination.” He added he will not let himself be “dragged down by every non-positive thing written about the pope.”In 2013, Pope Francis was elected by cardinals on a mandate to clean up the Vatican’s finances, after a series of corruption scandals.Last month, Francis fired a former …

Hundreds of Romanians Form Human Chain on Fifth Anniversary of Deadly Fire

On the steps of a Bucharest court on Friday, Adrian Albu pointed to his sister among the pictures of the 65 people who died in a nightclub fire five years ago, triggering mass protests across Romania at a culture of graft and lack of accountability.Hundreds of people wearing protective masks and standing 4 meters apart lit candles and formed a socially distanced human chain between the site of the former Colectiv club and the Bucharest Court of Appeals where the trial against those responsible is still taking place.”We should know who is guilty and people should know that the same thing can happen again at any moment and we are as unprepared now as we were then,” said Albu, 43, who survived the fire but lost both his sister and …

Powerful Quake in Aegean Sea Leaves 6 Dead; Buildings Toppled in Turkey, Greece

Officials in Greece and Turkey say rescue efforts are continuing into the night after a powerful earth struck Friday in the Aegean Sea between the Turkish coast and the Greek island of Samos, killing at least 14 people and injuring hundreds amid collapsed buildings and flooding caused by a minor tsunami. Video clips showed several damaged buildings, some partially or completely collapsed, as emergency services attended the scene. Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency reported12 people died, one due to drowning, while 419 people were injured. On the Greek island of Samos two teenagers, a boy and a girl, were found dead in an area where a wall had collapsed. Haluk Ozener, director of the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute, reported a small tsunami struck the Seferihisar district …

2nd Suspect Held After Deadly Knife Attack at French Church

Police in France have detained a second suspect in connection with Thursday’s deadly knife attack at a church in the city of Nice. The suspect is a 47-year-old man believed to have been in contact with the attacker the night before the attack at Notre Dame Basilica, according to a judicial official, who was not authorized to be publicly named.  In Tunisia, authorities are reportedly investigating whether a group called the Mahdi Organization carried out the attack. The state news agency TAP reported Friday investigators were also trying to determine whether the group exists and that the probe is based on claims of responsibility on social media. A picture of Brahim al-Aouissaoui, who is suspected by French police and Tunisian security officials of carrying out Thursday’s attack in Nice, is seen in this undated photo provided …

As Anger Rises, Thousands of Muslims Protest French Cartoons

Thousands of Muslims in Pakistan poured out of prayer services to join anti-France protests on Friday, as the French president’s vow to protect the right to caricature the Prophet Muhammad continues to roil the Muslim world.   An estimated 2,000 worshippers celebrating the Mawlid, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, took to the streets in the eastern city of Lahore. Crowds led by Islamic parties chanted anti-France slogans, raised banners and clogged major roads en route to a Sufi shrine. Dozens of people furiously stomped on French flags and cried for the boycott of French products. In Multan, a city in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, thousands burned an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron and demanded that Pakistan sever ties with France.     More gatherings were planned for later …

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Promises Action as Allies Sound Alarm Over Reform Rollback

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy promised swift action on Thursday and warned Ukraine could lose international aid and support after a Constitutional Court this week ruled to abolish some anti-corruption laws. The court said it saw as excessive the punishment set for false information on officials’ asset declarations and struck down some critical powers of the key anti-graft body NAZK, which in turn said the court had destroyed the anti-corruption system. Ukraine’s patchy performance on reforms and tackling entrenched corruption has derailed a $5 billion program agreed in June with the International Monetary Fund at a time its economy is in sharp downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. FILE – The International Monetary Fund logo is seen in Washington, April 21, 2017.The European Union’s delegation to Kyiv warned that its financial assistance was tied to …

NATO Allies Growing Weary of Turkish Aggression

The United States is pushing NATO countries to work with Turkey in hopes of healing divisions that have seen Ankara move closer to Russia, but at least one of those allies is bracing for more turmoil.Greece, embroiled in a dispute with Turkey over rights and resources in the eastern Mediterranean, has repeatedly put its FILE – Greek Minister of National Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos speaks to journalists in Kastanies on March 1, 2020.Turkey has “become increasingly more self-confident … coupled with a rising element of aggressive rhetoric, a confrontational attitude and the revisionist political position,” Greek Minister of National Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos said Thursday, during a virtual talk sponsored by the German Marshall Fund.”At some point, something needs to be done,” he said. “Unfortunately, this entails elements of being unpleasant.”Panagiotopoulos and …

Spain Investigates Russian Links to Catalan Separatists

Russian agents offered military aid to Catalan separatists at the height of their failed bid to break away from Spain in 2017, according to a judicial investigation in Spain.These are the extraordinary allegations at the heart of an investigation launched by a judge in Barcelona who is probing alleged links between the Catalan independence movement and a Russian misinformation campaign designed to destabilize Europe.Police arrested 21 suspects in Barcelona on Wednesday on the orders of Judge Joaquin Aguirre, including three men who were close to the former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont who fled Spain shortly after the failed declaration of independence three years ago.In one recording presented in court documents, one of those detained by police allegedly mentions an offer by Russian agents to provide Puigdemont with 10,000 troops to …

Merkel Defends German Coronavirus Restrictions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday defended new coronavirus restrictions to lawmakers and lashed out at those who tried to dismiss the infection as harmless as the number of cases hit a new high. In a speech before the Bundestag – the German parliament – that was interrupted by heckling from right-wing politicians, Merkel said the new measures “are appropriate, necessary and proportionate.” She said, “There is no other milder approach than reducing personal contacts to try and stop the infections chain and to change the course of the infections back to a level where we can handle it.”   Merkel spoke a day after she and the governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed on far-reaching restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including the closure of bars and restaurants, …

France-Turkey Dispute Grows Over Cartoons and Influence in Africa

The war of words between France and Turkey over cartoons portraying Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, triggered by the recent beheading of a French teacher, continues to escalate. But behind the diplomatic storm over freedom of expression versus religious sensitivity is a bitter rivalry for influence in Africa.To rousing applause from parliamentary deputies of his party, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday accused Western countries of seeking to re-launch the Crusades. Erdogan’s latest salvo is over French President Emmanuel Macron’s defense of the publication of cartoons of Islam’s prophet Muhammad.Erdogan said it is an issue of honor for Turkey to stand against the attacks against the Prophet who honored Mecca, Medina, Africa, Asia, Europe, in the whole world, and at all times.Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his ruling party lawmakers at …

France, Germany Impose New Lockdown Measures as COVID-19 Cases Soar

A rising tide of new coronavirus cases has prompted the leaders of France and Germany to impose a new round of lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus.During a televised speech Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a nationwide monthlong lockdown that will take effect Friday. Macron said restaurants, bars, cafes and other nonessential businesses will be closed, while residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for work, shopping and doctor’s appointments.German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a set of similar measures in her own monthlong lockdown order Wednesday after a meeting with leaders of the nation’s 16 federal states. In addition to restaurants and bars, all gyms, theaters and opera houses will be shut down under Merkel’s order, which takes effect Monday, while the majority of businesses, …

Algerian President Transferred to German Hospital Amid COVID Scare

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is undergoing medical examination at a German hospital, a day after the government announced he was admitted to an Algerian hospital after self-isolating because several of his senior aides tested positive for COVID-19.The 75-year-old president’s treatment in Germany comes days before Algeria’s critical Nov. 1 referendum on changes he has proposed to the constitution.A government statement announced on state television did not specify what Tebboune is being treated for, even though he had a coronavirus scare.There has been no government announcement that Tebboune tested positive for COVID-19.Tebboune replaced Algeria’s ousted longtime president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in January amid political unrest in the country. …