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Germany: ‘Hostage situation’ at Cologne train station

Police have evacuated Cologne’s central train station after reports of shots being fired and a possible hostage situation. Police appealed to locals to avoid the area for the time being. Unknown assailants on Monday took hostages at the Cologne railway station. The incident apparently took place at a pharmacy within the central train station building. Local media reported shots were ... Read More »

Portugal issues red alert for rare Atlantic hurricane

Hurricane Leslie has hit Portugal with high winds and rain, bringing down trees and cutting power. It is one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the Iberian peninsula. Powerful winds brought down hundreds of trees and left thousands of homes in Portugal without electricity as Hurricane Leslie struck the European country overnight into Sunday. Although there have been no reports of deaths or injuries, authorities have advised people not to venture outdoors. They also warned of possible flooding in coastal areas. A number of flights have been canceled due to bad weather conditions. On Saturday night, the storm, which was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone as it closed in on the Iberian peninsula, swept into central and northern Portugal, before heading towards Spain. Wind speeds of up to 176 kilometers per hour (109 miles per hour) were recorded after Hurricane Leslie hit the mainland. The storm could turn out to be the fiercest to hit Portugal since 1842. Losing intensity The severe "red" warning applied to 13 of Portugal's 18 mainland districts. The Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) said Leslie would continue to lose intensity after making landfall and pass to the category of "post-tropical storm." Portugal's National Protection Agency advised residents to "avoid at all costs walking on the street." Gale-force winds and flash floods were forecast from the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). It said Leslie would produce rainfalls of 25 to 75 mm (1 to 3 inches) and at some locations as high as 125 mm (5 inches), which would cause flash flooding. Throughout the weekend, Leslie's ocean swells were also expected to wrack Madeira, the Azores and the Canary Islands. Experts warned of "life-threatening surf and rip current conditions." Spawned in the western Atlantic The storm had been spawned in the western Atlantic two weeks ago before heading toward the Iberian Peninsula. Hurricanes formed on the American side of the Atlantic rarely bring their destructive force to Europe. Only five are on record, including Hurricane Ophelia whose air mass fueled forest fires in Portugal and Spain in 2017. Spanish meteorologists expected Leslie to reach Spain on Sunday before weakening to a tropical storm. Spain's Mediterranean island of Mallorca [Majorca] is still recovering from massive rainfalls and flash floods, especially in its eastern coastal regions, last Tuesday that killed 12 people, including tourists from Germany.

Hurricane Leslie has hit Portugal with high winds and rain, bringing down trees and cutting power. It is one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the Iberian peninsula. Powerful winds brought down hundreds of trees and left thousands of homes in Portugal without electricity as Hurricane Leslie struck the European country overnight into Sunday. Although there have been ... Read More »

China’s Xinjiang region legalizes Muslim internment camps

China's regional government in Xinjiang has amended its laws to effectively legalize internment camps targeting Muslim minorities. Some 1 million Muslims are currently thought to be held in such centers. Chinese authorities in the far-northwestern region of Xinjiang on Wednesday revised legislation to permit the use of "education and training centers" to combat religious extremism. In practice, the centers are internment camps in which as many as 1 million minority Muslims have been placed in the past 12 months, according to rights groups and NGO reports. The amended legislation states that Chinese regional governments "can set up vocational education and training centers ... to educate and transform those who have been influenced by extremism." However, besides teaching the Mandarin language and providing vocational skills, the new clause directs centers to provide "ideological education, psychological rehabilitation and behavior correction." Beijing denies that the centers serve as internment camps but has admitted that even petty criminals have been sent to such centers. Former detainees have told rights group that they were forced to denounce Islam and made to profess their loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party. "It's a retrospective justification for the mass detainment of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang," James Leibold, a scholar of Chinese ethnic policies at Melbourne's La Trobe University, told the AP news agency "It's a new form of re-education that's unprecedented and doesn't really have a legal basis, and I see them scrambling to try to create a legal basis for this policy." Members of the Uighur, Kazakh and other Muslim minorities who live abroad have indicated they have been unable to contact their relatives in China. The Chinese government has for decades tried to suppress pro-independence movements among Xinjiang's Muslim community, spurred largely out of frustration over the influx of migrants of migrants from China's Han majority. Chinese authorities say that extremists in the region have ties to terror groups, but have given little evidence to support that claim. The latest legislation comes after the regional government launched a crackdown on halal products and banned the wearing of veils. China faces international condemnation over camps Following the Xinjiang region's law change, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers proposed legislation on Wednesday urging President Donald Trump to condemn the "gross violations" of human rights in the northwestern Chinese region. The proposal put forward by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China calls on Trump to press his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to immediately shut down what they described as "political re-education camps." It also proposes imposing sanctions against Xinjiang's Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo under the Magnitsky Act, which would prevent him from entering the US and freeze any assets he has in US banks. Read more: China's Xinjiang Muslims 'require DNA samples' for travel documents "China's authoritarianism at home directly threatens our freedoms as well as our most deeply held values and national interests," Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Representative Chris Smith, both Republicans, said in a joint statement. The European Union's top foreign policy official Federica Mogherini expressed similar concerns last week. The proposed measures by US lawmakers come as tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to escalate over tariff disputes and American complaints over China's technology policy.

China’s regional government in Xinjiang has amended its laws to effectively legalize internment camps targeting Muslim minorities. Some 1 million Muslims are currently thought to be held in such centers. Chinese authorities in the far-northwestern region of Xinjiang on Wednesday revised legislation to permit the use of “education and training centers” to combat religious extremism. In practice, the centers are ... Read More »

Hurricane Michael makes landfall in Florida: ‘Our worst fears realized’

Hurricane Michael has caused widespread damage across the Florida panhandle. The Category 4 monster was among the most powerful hurricanes in half a century to strike the mainland United States. Hurricane Michael churned through the Florida panhandle packing 155-mph (250-kph) winds on Wednesday afternoon, unleashing devastating damage along the Gulf coast as it moved inland into Georgia. It had the lowest barometric reading of a hurricane to make landfall since 1969, making it the most intense storm to hit the continental US in half a century. Michael was also the most powerful hurricane to hit the panhandle of Florida. The storm slammed ashore early afternoon near Mexico Beach as a Category 4 hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson wind scale, uprooting trees and powerlines, dumping rain and unleashing severe flooding. "Michael saw our worst fears realized, of rapid intensification just before landfall on a part of a coastline that has never experienced a Category 4 hurricane," said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. Authorities said a man in the town of Greensboro was killed by a falling tree when it crashed through the roof of his home. Some 375,000 people had been urged to leave their homes for stronger shelters in Florida, but many residents were trapped after they were caught surprised by the storm doubling in strength as it approached land. By Wednesday night, more than 400,000 people in Florida, Georgia and Alabama were without power. Emergency alerts for Alabama, Georgia The storm's strength diminished to a Category 1 storm packing 75-mph (120-kph) winds as it moved into Georgia late Wednesday. It was projected to cut through the state and move into the Carolinas as a tropical storm on Thursday. The governors of North and South Carolina urged residents to prepare for heavy rain and winds, which come less than a month after Hurricane Florence battered the mid-Atlantic coast. President Donald Trump said he had spoken with Florida Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday, and federal emergency services were coordinating with regional agencies in the areas likely to be impacted. "It is imperative that you heed the directions of your State and Local Officials. Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!" the president tweeted to residents of Florida and Georgia. Climate change making more destructive storms In the past year, several massive storms battered the US coasts, including Irma, Maria and Harvey. Houston's metropolitan area suffered a record-equaling $125 billion (€108 billion) in damage. North and South Carolina are still reeling from Hurricane Florence last month. Climate scientists have long warned that the effects of global warming make storms more destructive and point to last year's string of hurricanes as visible evidence.

Hurricane Michael has caused widespread damage across the Florida panhandle. The Category 4 monster was among the most powerful hurricanes in half a century to strike the mainland United States. Hurricane Michael churned through the Florida panhandle packing 155-mph (250-kph) winds on Wednesday afternoon, unleashing devastating damage along the Gulf coast as it moved inland into Georgia. It had the ... Read More »

US indicts Chinese spy for trying to steal aviation trade secrets

The US Justice Department said on Wednesday it had detained a Chinese spy on charges of state-sponsored economic espionage, after he allegedly attempted to steal trade secrets from several American aviation and aerospace companies. Yanjun Xu, an intelligence officer for China's Ministry of State Security, is accused of running a five-year operation in which he would woo employees from major US aerospace firms and persuade them to travel to China under the guise that they would give a presentation at a university. Court papers documented how Xu and other intelligence operatives would then plan to illicitly obtain "highly sensitive information" from their expert guests. In one instance, Xu recruited an employee at GE Aviation, who sent him a presentation containing the company's proprietary information. Xu then continued to follow up by asking the employee for more specific technical information and even proposed setting up a meeting in Europe. GE Aviation is a Cincinnati-based division of US industrial conglomerate General Electric, which regularly works under Defense Department contracts. The company said it had been cooperating with the FBI for several months on the matter. "The impact to GE Aviation is minimal thanks to early detection, our advanced digital systems and internal processes, and our partnership with the FBI," GE Aviation spokesman Perry Bradley said. According to court documents, Xu is also suspected of targeting another unnamed described as "one of the world's largest aerospace firms, and a leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems," and a third as a leader in unmanned aerial vehicle technology. Unprecedented extradition Xu was detained in Belgium in April on a US arrest warrant. Following several failed appeals, he was handed over to American authorities on Tuesday in what was an unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence official to the US from another country. The announcement will almost certainly heighten tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade tensions, hacking and corporate espionage. Read more: China's tech firms hit by spy chips row Bill Priestap, the FBI's assistant director for counterintelligence, said that the incident "exposes the Chinese government's direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States." John Demers, the assistant US attorney general for national security, warned that the case was not an isolated incident. "It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense," he said. "We cannot tolerate a nation stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower." Xu is the second Chinese national in two weeks to be charged by the US Justice Department with trying to steal aviation industry secrets. Ji Chaoqun was charged by American authorities of helping identify potential recruitment targets for China's Ministry of State Security. Officials said the two cases appeared closely linked.

The US Justice Department said on Wednesday it had detained a Chinese spy on charges of state-sponsored economic espionage, after he allegedly attempted to steal trade secrets from several American aviation and aerospace companies. Yanjun Xu, an intelligence officer for China’s Ministry of State Security, is accused of running a five-year operation in which he would woo employees from major ... Read More »

US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley resigns

US President Donald Trump has announced the resignation of the country's envoy to the UN. Nikki Haley, who had served since January 2017, is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the administration. US President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he had accepted the resignation of United Nations envoy Nikki Haley. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said Haley would leave the administration "at the end of the year," adding that she had done an incredible job. The president said that together, they had "solved a lot of problems." "We hate to lose (you)," Trump said. "Hopefully, you'll be coming back at some point. Maybe a different capacity. You can have your pick." No reason for the resignation has yet been provided. Haley insisted she was not planning to run for president against Trump in 2020, saying only that being ambassador had "been the honor of a lifetime," and that it was "important to understand when it's time to stand aside." Her departure is being seen as a blow for the White House just weeks before the US midterm election. Haley's is the latest resignation in a leadership team with a relatively high turnover — Trump has already lost one secretary of state and two national security advisers. Read more: Is the UN facing budget cuts under Trump? DW's Washington correspondent, Maya Shwayder, described the resignation as a big loss, saying that Haley was a well-respected diplomat within the administration. Before being chosen as Trump's ambassador in November 2016, Haley, 46, served as governor of the state of South Carolina — the first woman to hold the post. As governor she was a vocal critic of Trump's remarks on immigrants during the 2016 presidential campaign. She also gained a reputation as a racial conciliator after leading the campaign to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina State House in 2015. Haley's limited foreign policy experience made her a surprising pick for UN ambassador. In the role, she represented Trump's often unpopular agenda at the UN, advocating a hard-line stance on Iran, cutting the UN budget and leading the US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council after accusing the body of being anti-Israel. Last month, she coordinated Trump's first time chairing the UN Security Council. "Look at what has happened in two years with the United States on foreign policy. Now, the United States is respected," Haley told reporters at the White House. "Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do." UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his "deep appreciation for the excellent cooperation and support" that Haley has shown, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon thanked Haley for being a "true friend" to the country. "Thank you for representing the values common to Israel and the United States," he said in a statement. The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Bob Menendez, said he was "deeply concerned about the leadership vacuum" created by Haley's resignation, and called it "yet another sign of the Trump administration's chaotic foreign policy." Trump said he would name her successor in the next two to three weeks.

US President Donald Trump has announced the resignation of the country’s envoy to the UN. Nikki Haley, who had served since January 2017, is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the administration. US President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he had accepted the resignation of United Nations envoy Nikki Haley. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, ... Read More »

Bulgarian journalist murder suspect detained in Germany: reports

German authorities have arrested a fresh suspect tied to the murder of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova, according to media reports. The TV reporter's body was found in a park in northern Bulgarian town of Ruse. A man has been detained in Germany in connection with the murder of Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova, according to media reports in Bulgaria. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is scheduled to hold a press conference early on Wednesday where, DW has learned, he is expected to confirm details of the arrest News of the arrest first appeared on the website of Bulgaria's 168 Chasa newspaper late on Tuesday. The man, described as a Bulgarian national between the ages of 20 and 30, had left Bulgaria on Sunday for Germany, where his mother is believed to live. Local television station TVN, where Marinova was employed, later reported the suspect and Marinova had not known each other. bTV, another Bulgarian broadcaster, claimed that police had found the journalist's mobile phone in the suspect's apartment in the northern town of Ruse. German authorities have so far declined to confirm the arrest. Marinova's body was found in a park in Ruse on Saturday. It showed signs of strangulation and rape. It remains unclear whether Marinova was killed as a result of her work. Bulgarian authorities said they were investigating both professional and personal motifs for her murder. The 30-year-old reporter had most recently hosted investigative journalists on her television show who had reported on the misuse of European Union funds by Bulgarian authorities. On Tuesday, police in Ruse arrested a Romanian citizen in connection with the murder, but later released him without charge due to a lack of concrete evidence. Marinova's killing has sparked an international outcry, with European governments calling for a thorough investigation into her death. Read more: Slovakia: Has the EU looked the other way for too long? Although authorities in Bulgaria have played down the likelihood that Marinova's murder was a direct result of her reporting, the country still ranks 111th in the world in terms of press freedom, making it not only the worst performer in the EU but the entire Balkan region. The case has rekindled a heated debate over the safety of journalists in Europe. Over the past year, two other journalists who had been working on investigations into state corruption were killed in Slovakia and Malta.

German authorities have arrested a fresh suspect tied to the murder of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova, according to media reports. The TV reporter’s body was found in a park in northern Bulgarian town of Ruse. A man has been detained in Germany in connection with the murder of Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova, according to media reports in Bulgaria. Bulgarian ... Read More »

IMF downgrades global growth outlook, places responsibility on US-China trade tensions

The IMF has cut its global economic forecast for 2018 and 2019, citing above all rising import tariffs between the US and China. A fall in trade volumes and manufacturing orders could hit Germany particularly hard. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday downgraded its outlook for the world economy, warning that the imposition of import tariffs between the US and China were taking its toll on global trade. The IMF's World Economic Outlook report, unveiled on the eve of its upcoming summit in Bali, Indonesia, estimated that global growth in 2018 would reach 3.7 percent, the same as the previous year but lower than the 3.9 percent it had forecast earlier this year. It also slashed its outlook this year for 19 countries, including several eurozone member states and emerging markets. Growth in both the United States and China were expected to slow next year as a result of the trade dispute triggered by US President Donald Trump. China was set to grow by 6.2 in 2019, down from the 6.4 percent projected last July. Both figures would mark the slowest rate of Chinese expansion since 1990, when its growth rate was slashed in the aftermath of the violent suppression of pro-democracy protests. The IMF warned that China's growth even risked declining by a full percentage point by next year in the event of a "worse-case" scenario, involving further tariffs coupled with a collapse in confidence by businesses and markets. Beijing policymakers were navigating a "difficult trade-off between growth and stability," the IMF said in a statement. US growth this year remained steady at 2.9 percent but is set to slow in 2019 as the effect of Trump's sweeping tax cuts wear off and the trade dispute with China begins to set in. "The forecast does not incorporate the impact of further tariffs on Chinese and other imports threatened by the United States, but not yet implemented, due to uncertainty about their exact magnitude, timing, and potential retaliatory response," according to the IMF. Trade tariffs and Brexit put eurozone at risk Global trade tensions would also have a bearing on the eurozone's 2018 growth forecast, which was cut to 2 percent from 2.2 percent previously. A drop in manufacturing orders and trade volumes would hit Germany particularly hard, the IMF report warned. German growth was revised down to 1.9 percent in both 2018 and 2019 due to a slowdown in exports and industrial production. The possible failure of Brexit negotiations also dampened the eurozone's growth outlook. The UK economy, meanwhile, is expected to grow 1.4 percent this year and 1.5 percent in 2019 — falling behind almost all of Europe, with the exception of heavily-indebted Italy. UK growth has been drastically cut in the aftermath of the Brexit vote; uncertainties surrounding the country's divorce from the EU have stymied investment and seen part of its key financial sector relocate to the continent. Fed policy dampening developing markets' growth While tax cuts and increased spending have seen an immediate upswing in US growth, the IMF warned that the country could face an unwelcome "inflation surprise," which would prompt the Federal Reserve, America's central bank, to hike rates at a faster-than-expected pace. Read more: Federal Reserve issues trade conflict warning The Fed's rate hikes have already piled pressure on emerging market economies, increasing the risk of capital outflows as investors seek higher returns. IMF chief economist Maurice Obstfeld said in a statement that, although emerging markets had not yet seen a generalized pullback of capital, "there is no denying that the susceptibility to large global shocks has risen." Any major economic shock in developing nations would also come to bear on leading economies, including the US. "Any sharp reversal for emerging markets would pose a significant threat to advanced economies," said Obstfeld.

The IMF has cut its global economic forecast for 2018 and 2019, citing above all rising import tariffs between the US and China. A fall in trade volumes and manufacturing orders could hit Germany particularly hard. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday downgraded its outlook for the world economy, warning that the imposition of import tariffs between the US ... Read More »

When nature calls, there’s a problem in parts of Ghana

Majestic cloth, gold, welcoming people, rainforests and a cool Atlantic breeze. Ghana is steeped in culture and natural beauty. A flush toilet is hard to find, and the media are helping to potty train the government. Ghanaians are known to squat on the beach, in the bush, or wide open spaces of any city or town. Government billboards explicitly warn: "Beaches are not toilets – Don't do it here." Ghana is one of the worst countries when it comes to access to basic sanitation such as toilets. Some 5.7 million people are forced to relieve themselves in the open, according to the World Health Organization. The West African country is ranked seventh worst when it comes to improving basic sanitation. Open defecation is hardly a problem confined to Ghana - it is common in other parts of Africa and Asia too. But in Ghana the media has now stepped in to press authorities to provide the facilities needed to alleviate the problem. "For a country that has attained 61 years of independence, is it not shameful, embarrassing, disgraceful, distasteful and unthinkable that the greatest danger to human health and general well-being of the citizenry of our dear nation is self-inflicted," The Finder newspaper wrote. In Accra New Town in the heart of Ghana's capital, most houses are build without toilet facilities. "In reality, every house is supposed to have a toilet. But you know our people and how they build their houses – they don't locate any toilets. When nature calls, there is no place,” Bernice Ofei, a resident, told DW. "The only option for many is to go to the bush to defecate. Some had to use the neighbors' toilets," said Nana Abena. The plastic bags of human excrement that communities bother Abena. Heath risks Children and old people often can't hold on until they reach the communal public toilet or beat the queue, says Simon Keelson. "Some of the children defecate in polythene bags and throw it wherever they like, he said. "It is a worry because at times we know that the toilet is not good. At times they can attract flies and we can easily get diseases like cholera.” Sanitation experts and environmentalists have long worried raised concerns over the toilet habits of some people in Ghana. "Open defecation is a very serious threat to child-wellbeing and to maternal health. In fact, 19 percent of Ghanaians defecate in the open on a daily basis. And this is very serious,” said Attah Arhin, the vice chair of a non-governmental water and sanitation coalition . Toilets are expensive Some district assemblies in the country have pushed for households to build toilets or face prosecution. The government has run several campaigns, with a grant from the World Bank, to eliminate the problem. But they have been largely ineffective and political will is seen as lacking, with bylaws hardly enforced. To add a toilet to a home costs on average $230 (€197), more than most people can afford. The government admits that the unsightly problem is bad fortourism. Westerners especially avoid those beaches that have become public toilets. "We came on a tour, to ascertain for ourselves the state of the open defecation issue. We have to re-enforce the committment to fight this menace,” said Tourism Minister Catherine Afeku. "It can't be something that we leave it and say that is just the attitude. Nobody was born with this upbringing." In 2012, the World Bank estimated that Ghana's open defecation problem costs the country more than $79 million dollars a year. Media steps in The media is now working with sanitation experts to raise awarness and press authorities to invest more in sanitation. This week saw the launch of the Media Coalition against Open defecation (M-CODe) by media professionals across platforms countrywide. Its first call was directly to President Nana Akufo-Addo to declare a target date to end open defecation in Ghana. Cecil Nii Obodai Wentum of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation said the coalition wanted to see the government budget to ensure toilet facilities for all schools and homes. "We realized that over the years that there have been laws passed by our Assamblies and by national government to ensure that people have descent places of convenience. But these laws are not implemented," Justice Adoboe, the M-CODe coordinator told DW. "So we are joining this campaign to let government know that we know the laws exist so they should just enforce them, provide finances where finances are needed and do the right thing so that open defecation is eradicated." Linda Asante-Adjei, the vice president of the Ghana Journalists Association (GLA), also spoke out against the situation. "“We cannot continue spending money branding Ghana while we undermine those efforts with insanitary practices,” she told coalition members. Arhin said he hopes the upswing in advocacy for improved sanitation will bring about change. "As a country, we invest very little in sanitation. Our budget for sanitation is just about 0.5 percent, very little of our annual budget. We believe that with advocacy, if we keep hammering on the point of the importance of sanitation, government may listen." Benita van Eyssen contributed to this report.

Majestic cloth, gold, welcoming people, rainforests and a cool Atlantic breeze. Ghana is steeped in culture and natural beauty. A flush toilet is hard to find, and the media are helping to potty train the government. Ghanaians are known to squat on the beach, in the bush, or wide open spaces of any city or town. Government billboards explicitly warn: ... Read More »

Greek ministerial couple step down after housing subsidy scandal

Two government ministers have resigned in quick succession after public outcry over a Cabinet housing allowance. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is set to find replacements for the affluent married couple. Greece's economy and development minister has resigned hours after his wife quit as deputy labor minister in response to a housing stipend row. Dimitri Papadimitriou handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday night "for reasons of political sensitivity," an Economy Ministry official told Reuters news agency. Papdimitriou's wife, Rania Antonopoulou, stepped down after Greek media reported she had accepted a €1,000 ($1,200) monthly housing allowance for an apartment she shared with Papdimitriou in an expensive Athens neighborhood. Read more: Greece secures billions as bailout enters final stages Antonopoulou was eligible to apply for the allowance as a cabinet member whose primary residence was outside of Athens. The couple's main home is in the US, where they had been working as scholars before joining the Greek government in 2015 and 2016. Despite the absence of any wrongdoing, the disclosure sparked national criticism. Greece is recovering from a severe financial crisis and a third of the population lives in poverty. US tax filings from 2015 showed that Antonopoulou owned $340,000 and Papadimitriou around $2.7 million worth of stocks. Read more: Greeks stuck in lousy, part-time jobs as government claims success "It was never my intention to insult the Greek people," Antonopoulou said, adding that she would return around €23,000 drawn from the housing allowance over two years. The government said it would end the housing allowance. Tsipras is also reportedly set to reshuffle his Cabinet on Thursday to fill the two vacant posts. Papadimitriou was responsible for attracting foreign investment to Greece and Antonopoulou worked on reducing unemployment. Read more: Greek firms paying employees with coupons

Two government ministers have resigned in quick succession after public outcry over a Cabinet housing allowance. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is set to find replacements for the affluent married couple. Greece’s economy and development minister has resigned hours after his wife quit as deputy labor minister in response to a housing stipend row. Dimitri Papadimitriou handed in his resignation ... Read More »

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