Germany’s Political Parties Bargain to Determine Next Government

The wrangling over who will control Germany’s government has begun among the top four finishing parties following parliamentary elections. The Social Democrats (SPD), led by Olaf Scholz, defeated outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) 25.8% to 24.1%, handing the conservative party its worst ever defeat.   But since neither party won enough votes to control the Bundestag – the lower house of parliament – they must work with the third-place finishers, the Green party, which received 14.8% of the vote, and fourth place finishers, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), which received 11.5%. The Greens and FDP agreed Tuesday to meet with each other first before discussions with the SPD or CDU. A photo was released to the media showing Green party candidate Annalena Baerbock with FDP leader Christian Lindner. …

Kosovo, Serbia Reach Deal to End Border Tensions

Kosovo agreed on Thursday to withdraw police units from its northern border with Serbia to end a mounting dispute over vehicle license plates that briefly escalated into violence and prompted NATO to step up its patrols. The accord negotiated in Brussels calms the latest flare-up in a decades-old standoff between Serbia and Kosovo but does not resolve a bigger issue blocking European Union membership talks: that Serbia and its former province Kosovo should normalize relations following Pristina’s 2008 independence. “We have a deal,” said Miroslav Lajcek, the EU’s envoy dealing with one of Europe’s toughest territorial disputes. “After two days of intense negotiations, an agreement on de-escalation and the way forward has just been reached,” he said on Twitter, where he posted the details. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State …

London Policeman Sentenced to Life for Sarah Everard Murder

A London Metropolitan Police officer has been sentenced to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty in July to the murder of Sarah Everard, whose disappearance and death in March sparked nationwide grief and outrage. Wayne Couzens confessed to abducting Everard on the evening of March 3, 2021, during a 50-minute walk home from her friend’s house in south London. Prosecutors said he falsely accused her of violating COVID-19 restrictions to lure her into his car.   Everard’s body was discovered a week later near Ashford in County Kent, about 90 kilometers southeast of London.   Following Couzen’s sentencing Thursday, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told reporters she was “absolutely horrified” Couzens used his position as a police officer to deceive and coerce Everard into his vehicle. She said …

In Spain, Push Is On for Squatter’s Rights

The pandemic has made Spain’s affordable housing crisis worse and civil organizations are now pressuring the government to pass a housing law that includes making available vacant, foreclosed homes. The push is causing new friction between Spanish political factions and raising concerns among real estate investors. Jonathan Spier narrates this report by Alfonso Beato in Barcelona. …

Editor Who Investigated Navalny Poisoning Says Russia Declares Him Wanted Man

The editor of a Russian news outlet that angered the Kremlin with its investigations, including into the poisoning of opposition politician Alexei Navalny, said the authorities had declared him a wanted man. Roman Dobrokhotov, editor-in-chief of The Insider, told Reuters the authorities had accused him of illegally crossing the border to leave Russia. He said he was currently outside Russia and did not want to disclose his location. He did not say how he had left Russia. The Interior Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. There was no other confirmation of Dobrokhotov’s status from the authorities. Media outlets and journalists critical of the authorities faced mounting pressure before a parliamentary election this month and the campaign against people the authorities deem as threats to political stability shows …

Belarus Blocks News Site After Deaths of Dissident, KGB

Belarusian authorities on Wednesday blocked access to another news site, the latest in a series of steps restricting independent media in the country after it was shaken by a wave of anti-government protests. The Belarusian Ministry of Information blocked access to the Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus website, the Belarusian subsidiary of a popular Russian newspaper of the same name. The ministry didn’t provide any reasons for the decision to block the popular website, which is visited by some 20,000 users daily. The access to it was restricted several hours after it ran a story about an alleged shootout in an apartment in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, during which two people — an opposition supporter and a KGB officer — were killed. The news outlet published a comment from the …

Court Convicts Former French Leader Sarkozy in Campaign Finance Case

A court in France has sentenced former President Nicolas Sarkozy to one year in prison after finding him guilty of illegal campaign financing during his 2012 reelection campaign. Prosecutors said Sarkozy spent nearly double the amount allowed under French law ahead of the election won by challenger Francois Hollande. Sarkozy, who led France from 2007-2012, denied wrongdoing.  His lawyer said he will appeal the court’s decision. The court said he could serve his sentence at home while wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet. Sarkozy was found guilty of corruption in a separate trial in March, and was sentenced to three years in prison with two years of the term suspended. He has appealed that verdict. …

British Government to Use Army to Help Ease Fuel Trucker Shortage

Britain’s business minister said Wednesday the army would begin driving fuel tankers in response to shortages at gas stations around the nation brought on by a dearth of truck drivers. For about a week now, a shortage of around 100,000 truck drivers in Britain has made it difficult for oil companies to get gasoline from refineries to fueling stations. The British Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) reported Wednesday that more than a third of the nation’s 8,500 gas stations remain without fuel. The situation has left long lines of motorists trying to buy fuel at stations that did have gasoline. Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng told reporters they could expect to see soldiers driving tanker trucks to help get gasoline to the stations in a few days. He added that he felt …

Russia Threatens YouTube Block After RT TV’s German Channels Are Deleted

Russia threatened Wednesday to block Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube after Russian state-backed broadcaster RT’s German-language channels were deleted, and said it was considering retaliating against German media. YouTube said on Tuesday that RT’s channels had breached its COVID-19 misinformation policy, a move Russia’s Foreign Ministry described as “unprecedented information aggression.” Russian state communications regulator Roskomnadzor said it had written to Google and demanded the restrictions be lifted. It said Russia could seek to partially or fully restrict access to YouTube if it failed to comply. Google declined to comment Wednesday. The Kremlin said it may have to force YouTube to comply with Russian law, saying there could be zero tolerance for breaches. “Of course there are signs that the laws of the Russian Federation have been broken, broken quite blatantly, because …

Massive North Sea Wind Farm Could Power Denmark, Neighbors

Weeks before a high-profile climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Danish officials are talking up an ambitious program to develop the world’s largest offshore wind energy complex, with the potential to provide enough green energy to power not just Denmark, but some of its neighbors as well.  The complex, to sit on and around an artificial North Sea island about 80 km off Denmark’s coast, would span an area up to the size of 64 soccer fields and support thermal storage facilities, HVDC converters, a heliport, and a research and visitor center. Energy Island Envisioned by Denmark “You can have hundreds of wind turbines around this island,” said Dan Jorgensen, Denmark’s climate and energy minister, during a visit to Washington this month. His government calculates that the energy island could yield …

German Election: Olaf Scholz Narrow Favorite to Succeed Angela Merkel

It’s still not clear who will be the next leader of Germany, after Sunday’s election failed to give any party a ruling majority. Talks between rival parties over forming a coalition government are under way. As Henry Ridgwell reports, Olaf Scholz is the narrow favorite to take over from Angela Merkel as chancellor — but the outcome remains uncertain.  Camera: Henry Ridgwell Produced by: Henry Ridgwell, Marcus Harton    …

In Spain, the Push is on for Squatter’s Rights

The pandemic has made Spain’s affordable housing crisis worse and civil organizations are now pressuring the government to pass a housing law that includes making available vacant, foreclosed homes. The push is causing new friction between Spanish political factions and raising concerns among real estate investors. Jonathan Spier narrates this report by Alfonso Beato in Barcelona. Camera: Alfonso Beato   …

Kremlin Critic Navalny Hit With New Probe, Could Face 10 More Years in Prison

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny is facing a new criminal probe by Russian investigators that could lead to 10 more years in prison. The investigation, launched Tuesday by the Russian government’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, accuses Navalny of creating and directing an “extremist network” the goal of which was “changing the foundations of the constitutional system in the Russian Federation,” according to a statement by the committee. Investigators also accuse Navalny and his allies of setting up social media accounts to promote Navalny’s banned Anti-Corruption Foundation “in order to promote criminal activity.” “The illegal activities of the extremist network were aimed at discrediting state authorities and their policies,” investigators said. The probe comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s party won lower house parliamentary elections earlier this month. Navalny’s …

At Least 20 Injured in Swedish Apartment Building Explosion

Police and fire officials in Goteburg, Sweden say an explosion in an apartment building early Tuesday injured at least 20 people, some of them seriously, and investigators have ruled out a natural cause for the blast. Emergency officials say they were alerted to the blast just before 5 a.m. local time in the Annedal district in central Goteborg, Sweden’s second-largest city. Fires spread to several units, and crews from the local fire department were still fighting the fires as of mid-morning. Residents reported being awakened by the blast that shook the entire building, which takes up most of one city block. Witnesses say smoke filled the hallways and stairways, making it difficult to exit the building. Police and fire crews rescued many people, and others climbed onto balconies. At least …

Britain Warns Citizens of Hong Kong Extradition Threat

Concerns are growing over the reach of the national security law that China imposed on Hong Kong as Britain warned several of its citizens that they could face arrest and extradition to the former British colony.  China passed the national security law in June 2020 in response to months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong. Beijing claimed the law was necessary to restore order to the territory and, in its words, “protect people’s rights.” Critics say the law curtails basic democratic freedoms and is aimed at suppressing political opposition. Over 140 people have been arrested under the legislation since it was introduced, including opposition lawmakers, activists, journalists and media executives.   Among those arrested was opposition activist Andy Li, who was charged with foreign collusion in 2020 after allegedly lobbying …

5.8 Quake Hits Crete, Killing One

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake rocked the Greek island of Crete Monday morning, leaving at least one person dead and several injured. Across the island, people were reportedly seen running out of buildings and homes, while many older buildings suffered damage. “The earthquake was strong and was long in duration,” Heraklion Mayor Vassilis Lambrinos told private Antenna television. Greek authorities dispatched civil engineers around the island to assess damage. “We are urging people who live in damaged older buildings to remain outdoors. One aftershock can cause a collapse,” seismologist Efthimios Lekkas, who heads Greece’s Earthquake Planning and Protection Organization, told The Associated Press. “We are talking about structures built before 1970. Structures built after 1985 are built to a higher standard that can withstand the effect of an earthquake.” Crete is …

Volcano Lava Flow Halts but Many Confined Over Toxic Gas Fears

A Canary Islands volcano that has been erupting for over a week fell silent Monday as coastal residents were confined over toxic gas fears when the lava hits the sea. La Cumbre Vieja, which straddles a southern ridge in La Palma in the Atlantic archipelago, erupted on September 19, spewing out rivers of lava which have slowly crept towards the sea. But on Monday morning, there was no lava and ash emerging, with the week-long rumble of the eruption fading to silence, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.  It was not immediately clear whether the eruption had stopped completely or merely paused, as smoke was still emerging from the top.  “Volcanic activity in La Palma has reduced significantly in the last few hours. We must be very vigilant about …

Panic Buying Leaves Fuel Pumps Dry in Major British Cities 

Up to 90% of British fuel stations ran dry across major English cities on Monday after panic buying deepened a supply chain crisis triggered by a shortage of truckers that retailers are warning could batter the world’s fifth-largest economy.  A dire post-Brexit shortage of truck drivers emerging after the COVID-19 pandemic has sown chaos through British supply chains in everything from food to fuel, raising the specter of disruptions and price rises in the run up to Christmas.  Just days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government spent millions of pounds to avert a food shortage due to a spike in prices for natural gas, the biggest cost in fertilizer production, ministers asked people to refrain from panic buying.  But lines of dozens of cars snaked back from gasoline stations across …

Goodbye Chancellor Merkel, Hello Chancellor Merkel

The joke in Berlin before Germans went to the polls Sunday was that the country’s longstanding chancellor, Angela Merkel, would have to delay her retirement from politics, and would end up delivering the traditional New Year’s address to the nation come January. And that looks likely. Germany is facing months-long horse-trading and wrangling over the formation of a coalition government following a federal parliamentary election result that disappointed all the parties, although Merkel’s Conservatives the most. The Christian Democrats, CDU, along with their affiliated Bavarian Christian Social Union, suffered their worst general federal election result ever and were defeated by the left-leaning Social Democrats, SPD. But even for the SPD, the outcome did not quite match expectations. The hopes of Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats had been boosted by their surge …