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Italy declares state of emergency following deadly explosion at Austrian pipeline

A major gas pipeline hub in Baumgarten, outside of Vienna, has exploded, killing one person and injuring 18. The blast has cut off supplies from the hub to southern Europe, forcing Italy to declare a state of emergency. An explosion rocked a major European pipeline hub at Baumgarten an der March, east of Vienna, Tuesday morning, prompting Italy to declare a state of emergency as flows from the site were cut off. One person died in the blast while a further 18 were injured, one seriously, according to officials. Austrian Authorities said the explosion was triggered by a "technical cause," without providing further detail. Located near Austria's eastern border with Slovakia, the Baumgarten gas hub is one of Europe's largest and most important distribution points for natural gas from Russia, Norway and other states. It handles some 40 billion cubic meters per year, redistributing it around Europe, including to Germany, France, Italy, Slovakia and Croatia. Gas prices soar News of the explosion threw the European gas market into turmoil amid fears that supplies would be tightened during the winter months. According to the Baumgarten site's operator, Gas Connect, the blast should have no bearing on the supply of natural gas to Germany, although it warned that the supply to Italy and the Balkan states would take a significant hit. Read more: North Sea pipeline shutdown impacts supply The pipeline remains temporarily shut down having sustained "major" material damage, according to Gas Connect spokesman Armin Teichert. Italy declares state of emergency Italy, the Baumgarten hub's biggest recipient, declared a state of emergency following the blast, with the country's industry minister warning that it was facing a "serious" energy supply problem. A state of emergency status would allow the Italian government to carry out extraordinary measures to try to meet energy demands, such as allowing coal and oil power plants to fire at full blast. Read more: Nordstream II gas pipeline in deep water According to the Reuters news agency, the Italian wholesale day-ahead supply of natural gas rose 150 percent to €60 per megawatt-hour (MWh) — an all-time high. The export arm of Russian energy giant Gazprom said it was working to redirect gas flows to southern Europe and to avoid any interruptions in the supply.

A major gas pipeline hub in Baumgarten, outside of Vienna, has exploded, killing one person and injuring 18. The blast has cut off supplies from the hub to southern Europe, forcing Italy to declare a state of emergency. An explosion rocked a major European pipeline hub at Baumgarten an der March, east of Vienna, Tuesday morning, prompting Italy to declare ... Read More »

Ryanair pilots vote for industrial action

It has been a difficult few months for Ryanair. First the airline had to cancel thousands of flights and now it is facing the threat of strikes after some of its pilots across Europe voted to take action. Ryanair pilots in Germany have joined counterparts from Ireland, Italy and Portugal in voting to take some form of industrial action in the near future. Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), the German pilots union that represents some Ryanair pilots based in Germany, announced the decision on Tuesday, although it is not yet clear when industrial action would take place or indeed, precisely what form it will take. The news comes alongside confirmation from the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) that its Ryanair staff members will strike on Wednesday, December 20. Read more: Berlin airport plans "soft launch" without main terminal building In a statement, the VC union said: "This is intended to enforce collective bargaining to regulate fair working and remuneration conditions for Ryanair pilots." VC president Ilja Schulz said: "We want to agree contracts with Ryanair. We see no other way". Any plans to strike would not take effect during the December 23-26 Christmas holiday period, the union added. Ryanair responded with a strongly worded statement, saying it had not been notified of any impending industrial action and also calling into question the motives of the VC union, with which it says it will not engage. "Ryanair has received no notification of any industrial action by its German pilots so we suspect this is more PR activity by the Lufthansa pilots group VC," it said. "If any such action takes place, Ryanair will deal with it head on, but we will not deal with or recognise the Lufthansa pilots union VC, regardless of what action — if any — takes place." Trouble at home base Unlike in Germany, specific strike action has now been confirmed in Ryanair's Irish base. IALPA voted on Monday to take some form of industrial action and now an umbrella trade union in Ireland has confirmed the planned December 20 strike, which will be staged mostly by directly-employed Ryanair captains based in Dublin. Read more: Up in the air? Ryanair’s growing pains Pilots in Italy and Portugal also voted for similar action over the past week and following the confirmation of the Dublin strike, it remains to be seen what specific strike action will be put in place by Ryanair pilots based in other countries. Ryanair responded by saying that the 24-hour strike action "has the support of less than 28 per cent of Ryanair’s over 300 Dublin pilots" but it did not specify what percentage of Ryanair captains — without whom, planes cannot fly — support the action. "While some disruption may occur, Ryanair believes this will largely be confined to a small group of pilots who are working their notice and will shortly leave Ryanair, so they don’t care how much upset they cause colleagues or customers," the airline said in a statement. Flying through the storm It has been a chaotic few months for the Irish airline. A mass of flight cancellations announced in September caused travel chaos for hundreds of thousands of passengers and pointed towards serious underlying industrial relations issues within the airline. Ryanair has steadfastly refused to engage with unions over the years, but relations between the airline and its staff — particularly pilots — have become increasingly strained. Rostering issues, combined with what is believed to have been a significant shortage of available pilots, is believed to have the main cause of the mass cancellations. Read more: Unfair competition: the battle between high-spreed rail and low-cost airlines Since then, an increasing number of Ryanair pilots have been seeking collective bargaining power rights. So far, Ryanair has refused to engage in any collective union negotiations, but the growing possibility of strikes — something the airline has studiously avoided in its 33-year history — may force its hand. It is almost one year since Ryanair pilots based in Germany formed a "company council" as part of the Vereinigung Cockpit union to represent their interests in Germany. As well as that, the recently formed European Employee Representative Council (EERC) is seeking to represent Ryanair pilots based across Europe but mirroring its policy towards unions, Ryanair has so refused to engage with it.

It has been a difficult few months for Ryanair. First the airline had to cancel thousands of flights and now it is facing the threat of strikes after some of its pilots across Europe voted to take action. Ryanair pilots in Germany have joined counterparts from Ireland, Italy and Portugal in voting to take some form of industrial action in ... Read More »

Berlin airport plans ‘soft launch’ without main terminal building

Berlin International Airport's chief hopes to save the country from further embarassment with his "BER Lite" project. The plan would see the airport open "metal boxes" instead of the elegantly designed main terminal. The firm behind Berlin's beleaguered new international airport confirmed to Deutsche Welle on Tuesday its latest gambit to save what has become perhaps Germany's longest-running joke and national embarrassment – a "soft launch" without the main terminal at Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER). As first reported by Spiegel, the newest BER Director, Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, is set to present his "BER Lite" plan to the company's supervisory board on Friday. Lütke Daldrup is the fourth leader tasked with rescuing the project, which has missed successive opening dates in remarkable fashion since 2011. A disaster decades in the making After 15 years of planning, workers broke ground on the site in 2006. A series of failures in planning and execution, combined with accusations of mismanagement and corruption, has seen at least three proposed opening dates come and go, with the latest suggestion being autumn 2019. However, a report by regulator TÜV in November 2017 found that continued problems with fire safety controls would push back the opening another two years to 2021 at the very earliest. Until then, Berlin must continue to cope with in small, outdated Tegel and Schönfeld airports, while BER's completed hotels and storefronts are left to collect dust. According to Spiegel, Lütke Daldrup's new plan would see the airport's beautiful main terminal designed by star architect Meinhard von Gerkan remain closed while "industrial pre-fab" metal boxes house passengers on their way to other destinations. "Instead of Gerkan's vision of an elegant, easy-to-use airport, it would become a thrown-together airport city," Spiegel wrote. Whether or not the board accepts Lütke Daldrup's new vision for the "Master Plan 2040," remains to be seen on Friday. The board has said that it remains committed to opening the airport's main terminal – some day.

Berlin International Airport’s chief hopes to save the country from further embarassment with his “BER Lite” project. The plan would see the airport open “metal boxes” instead of the elegantly designed main terminal. The firm behind Berlin’s beleaguered new international airport confirmed to Deutsche Welle on Tuesday its latest gambit to save what has become perhaps Germany’s longest-running joke and ... Read More »

Israel strikes Hamas military targets in Gaza Strip

At least two members of the Islamist group Hamas have been killed in airstrikes targeting military facilities. Israeli Defense Forces said it responded to rocket fire coming from the Gaza Strip during the "day of rage." Israeli airstrikes killed at least two people on Saturday after targeting military facilities in the Gaza Strip allegedly linked to the armed wing of the Islamist group Hamas. Militant groups operating in the Gaza Strip launched missiles into Israel on Friday amid mass protests and clashes against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital earlier this week. Read more: Jerusalem: Three things to know An Islamist militant group calling itself the Salahedin Brigades claimed responsibility for one of the attacks. However, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said it holds Hamas responsible for "all hostile acts against Israel emanating from the Gaza Strip." "In response to the projectiles fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip … Israel air force aircraft targeted a Hamas training compound and an ammunition warehouse in the Gaza Strip," the IDF said in a statement. The targets included "two weapons manufacturing sites, a weapons warehouse and a military compound," according to the IDF. Outrage at Trump's decision On Friday, thousands in the occupied Palestinian territories and across the globe took to the streets to protest the White House's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, marking a major shift in the US foreign policy on the issue. At least two Palestinians were killed during clashes in the Gaza Strip. Trump's decision has sent shock waves throughout the region and across the globe, with US allies condemning the move, saying it undermines the peace process. Read more: Intifadas: What you need to know However, the US remained defiant, with US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley saying: "The United States will not be lectured to by countries that lack any credibility when it comes to treating both Israelis and Palestinians fairly." The status of Jerusalem has been a key stumbling block during previous peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, in particular regarding the question of how to divide sovereignty and oversee holy sites. While Israel regards Jerusalem as its capital, a majority of the international community rejects that claim, saying the city's status should be settled in peace talks with the Palestinians.

At least two members of the Islamist group Hamas have been killed in airstrikes targeting military facilities. Israeli Defense Forces said it responded to rocket fire coming from the Gaza Strip during the “day of rage.” Israeli airstrikes killed at least two people on Saturday after targeting military facilities in the Gaza Strip allegedly linked to the armed wing of ... Read More »

Africa’s football marred by politics

Africa has many good footballers, but because of the key role played by politics, national teams are performing way below their potential. Lack of trust among stakeholders has hampered progress, said coach Volker Finke DW: Mr. Finke, for several years you worked as a trainer in Africa. How do you assess the situation and development of football on the continent? Volker Finke: For more than 20 years it has been repeatedly said that "It will not be long before Africa catches up in terms of infrastructure, there are better training opportunities and African teams can achieve success in major tournaments." But so far this has not happened. When you look behind the scenes, the reasons are always the same: organization and infrastructure. Can you explain that in more detail? Football is a reflection of social and political conditions. There is usually no transparency. Many of the financial resources that are initially made available disappear. As a result, for example, the training pitches are in such poor condition that you would rather not let the players train on them so they don't hurt themselves. Bonuses are not paid, and there's no trust between the government, the association and the players. These are the reasons why I do not believe that an African team will get very far at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Read more: What are Africa's chances for the 2018 World Cup? So that means the problems in football are not very different from those in politics. What would have to happen so that African teams can celebrate success at an international level? In my experience, the biggest difficulties come in the final stages of preparations, even though there are smaller problems during qualification stages as well. When you qualify, the fight for big budgets begins. As a rule, in African countries, everything that has to do with the national football team is paid for by the government. The federations do not have enough sponsors and other sources of income to pay the coaches and players' bonuses. As soon as the government provides the money for a big tournament, everybody wants to have a big slice of it. Then a large part of the funds simply disappears. Once the government disburses the money to those responsible for the team, the many people who deal with the cash all feel they have the right to siphon off something before it is sent on. There are things I have experienced over and over again. For example, after three to four days in training camp, suddenly the hotel closes its doors because the bill has not been paid. Or the bus will not come to the training camp because there is no money to buy fuel. And these are not isolated cases. I flew to Brazil with Cameroon two-and-a-half days later than planned because the payment arrangements were not yet sorted out and the team did not want to set out before things were negotiated. Every country that qualified for Brazil received $8 million (€6.7 million). The government should set up a new transparency program so that this money is used for good preparation comparable to the kind the competition from Europe enjoys. Trust between players, federations and the government needs to be built up. But I find it hard to believe that this is possible. There has been much talk in recent years of corruption in the football world. Several officials from the World Football Federation FIFA were arrested. The longtime association president, Sepp Blatter, had to resign. The lack of transparency at the international level is hardly helpful for the development in Africa ... Civil society in Asia and Africa has not developed in the same way as in Europe. In many countries, there are no functioning democratic structures and no separation of powers. Blatter and company built up their power using these countries. Anyone who sends payments to the right functionaries can be sure that the 54 African countries are on their side. In FIFA, each of the more than 200 members has one vote — but very few national associations come from democratic countries. Football officials there are often expected to use their positions to raise money. We in Europe call that corruption. If you know Africa well, you might say: Everyone takes their share. What does the lack of transparency in the associations mean when working as a trainer? One works largely next to the sports field. You have to find out quickly how certain hierarchies function: Who is being sponsored by whom? To whom do you have to talk before dropping a player from the list? But at the same time, you have to be careful that you do not get caught up in dependencies. When you give priority to one player, others come who are being backed by someone else. I myself was 50 percent diplomat, 50 percent football coach. It is crucial whether you get a team together that actually acts as a team. This cannot be done overnight. And you also have to have the backing of the association when certain players are sometimes not invited. How is African football doing from a sporting perspective? In the five big leagues of Europe — England, Spain, France, Germany and Italy — players of African descent regularly make a decisive impact on the games. Ivory Coast, for example, has produced some of the best players in the world in recent years. But it's always about things other than team performance. It's about things like the fight between the players Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba with their respective followers. One striking thing is that among the five African teams that have qualified for the World Cup in Russia, three are from North Africa. There are never as many football talents in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco as in West Africa. Ghana, Cameroon and Ivory Coast have the better player material without any ifs and buts. But the North Africans are more organized and structured, for example, in associations' work or training camps. In my opinion, these are the reasons why they have prevailed over the more talented teams from West Africa. Volker Finke trained for almost 16 years SC Freiburg in the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga. From 2013 to 2015 he was the national coach of Cameroon and led the team to the World Cup tournament in Brazil. Today he works in coach education in Japan, Europe and Africa.

Africa has many good footballers, but because of the key role played by politics, national teams are performing way below their potential. Lack of trust among stakeholders has hampered progress, said coach Volker Finke DW: Mr. Finke, for several years you worked as a trainer in Africa. How do you assess the situation and development of football on the continent? ... Read More »

Ai Weiwei’s film “Human Flow” makes Oscar shortlist

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei first worked with his smartphone camera until he was joined by a German producer on his powerful refugee documentary. "Human Flow" is now among 15 contenders for Best Documentary at the Oscars. Filmed over a year armed with drones, his iPhone and about 200 crew members, Ai Wei Wei visited more than 40 refugee camps in 23 countries to make his first feature length film, "Human Flow," which he hoped would spur people to help refugees. Now the film has been selected from among 170 documentaries for the 15-strong shortlist for the Oscars. Five films will end up receiving a nomination on January 23, 2018, before the Oscars will be awarded on March 4. Among the other contenders are "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power," a 2017 follow-up to the climate documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" (2006) that was honored with an Academy Award in 2007. Another favorite is the documentary "Jane" about gorilla researcher Jane Goodall. Read more: Ai Weiwei's 'Human Flow' and 11 other memorable films on refugees German producer Heine Deckert participated in the production of Weiwei's documentary which travelled to refugee camps in Greece, France, Kenya, Lebanon and Gaza, with some scenes set at the borders between the US and Mexico, as well as Serbia and Hungary. Ai Wei Wei, who was once jailed in China and has lived in Berlin since 2015, said he wanted the film to make people see refugees in a different light as they were victims of man-made problems. In this light, the artist is critical of Britain's decision to leave the European Union, saying at the December release of "Human Flow" in the UK that Brexit is a backward step that will make the country more isolated. Read more: Progress in Brexit talks, but Britain still divided "I think it is backward in terms of opening up globalisation and will not do Britain any good but rather to become more conservative and more exclusive," Ai told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the film's launch on December 5 in London. The documentary has run in German movie theaters since November 16.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei first worked with his smartphone camera until he was joined by a German producer on his powerful refugee documentary. “Human Flow” is now among 15 contenders for Best Documentary at the Oscars. Filmed over a year armed with drones, his iPhone and about 200 crew members, Ai Wei Wei visited more than 40 refugee camps in ... Read More »

Egypt’s Coptic Pope shuns US VP Mike Pence over Jerusalem

The Coptic Christian Pope has cancelled a meeting with the US vice president in Cairo, protesting against America's move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Palestinian leader Abbas also snubbed Mike Pence. In a statement released on Saturday, the Coptic Church said it "excused itself from hosting Mike Pence" when he visits Egypt, citing US President Donald Trump's decision "at an unsuitable time and without consideration for the feelings of millions of people." Egypt's Coptic Church said it would pray for "wisdom and to address all issues that impact peace for the people of the Middle East." The decision comes a day after Egypt's top Muslim cleric Ahmed al-Tayeb also refused to meet Pence. Egyptian Coptic Christians, the largest religious minority in the region, make up about 10 percent of the country's 93 million people. Solidarity from non-Muslim Arabs The Coptic Pope's refusal to host Pence is largely symbolic but significant because it demonstrates the Arab solidarity for Palestinians irrespective of religious affiliations. Trump's decision to move US embassy to Jerusalem has not only been criticized by Muslim countries; Germany, China and Russia are among scores of nations that have slammed the US president over the policy U-turn. The status of Jerusalem has been a key stumbling block during previous peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, in particular regarding the question of how to divide sovereignty and oversee holy sites. Read more: Jerusalem: Three things to know Intifadas: What you need to know While Israel regards Jerusalem as its capital, a majority of the international community rejects that claim, saying the city's status should be settled in peace talks with the Palestinians. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Saturday it would take several years before the US opens an embassy in Jerusalem. Anger against US Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas will also not participate in a planned meeting with Pence later this month. "There will be no meeting with the vice president of America in Palestine," Majdi al-Khaldi, a Palestinian diplomatic adviser, told AFP news agency. "The United States has crossed all the red lines with the Jerusalem decision," he added. Washington had warned Thursday that cancelling the meeting would be "counter-productive" for peace in the region, but Abbas has been under tremendous pressure to assert over the Jerusalem decision. Jibril Rajoub, a senior member of Abbas' Fatah party, said Pence was "not welcome in Palestine." Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urged protesters Saturday to remain calm over Trump's recognition of Jerusalem. "The fate of Jerusalem cannot be left to an occupying state that usurped Palestinian lands since 1967 with no regard to law and morality," Erdogan said, adding that reactions to the situation should be within democratic and legal scope. Protests and airstrikes Palestinian protests against Trump's announcement continued on Saturday also. On Friday, at least two people were killed and 760 were injured in clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank. Israeli airstrikes killed at least two people on Saturday after targeting military facilities in the Gaza Strip allegedly linked to the armed wing of the Islamist group Hamas. Militant groups operating in the Gaza Strip launched missiles into Israel on Friday amid mass protests and clashes against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital earlier this week. There have been Palestine solidarity rallies in many Muslim countries, including Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey. Read more: Palestinian youth fight to defend right to Jerusalem as capital The militant al Qaeda network urged its supporters the world over to target key interests of the US and its allies, in response to Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The Coptic Christian Pope has cancelled a meeting with the US vice president in Cairo, protesting against America’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Palestinian leader Abbas also snubbed Mike Pence. In a statement released on Saturday, the Coptic Church said it “excused itself from hosting Mike Pence” when he visits Egypt, citing US President Donald Trump’s decision “at ... Read More »

Two reasons behind Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

With President Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital being widely criticized in the US and abroad, many question his rationale. Scholars point to a political reason — and a psychological factor. The chorus of critics lambasting US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his plan to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv has only grown — both in the United States and around the world — since he announced it on Wednesday. As the UN Security Council held a special meeting on Friday in New York over the president's unilateral move, protesters across the Muslim world took to the streets to denounce the decision. Five European countries — Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and Italy – in a joint statement after the UN session called Washington's decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem "unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region." Read more: Israel airstrikes strike Gaza Strip during Palestinian 'day of rage' On Thursday, an impromptu survey of recent American ambassadors to Israel nominated by both Republican and Democratic presidents conducted by The New York Times, found that nine out of 11 of them disagreed with Trump's decision. Also in the US, more than 100 Jewish studies scholars across the country released a petition on Thursday opposing the move. With Washington facing widespread criticism for its decision to break with decades-long precedent in its stance towards Jerusalem, the question arises why the Trump administration would have decided to do so despite publicly voiced concerns from close US allies in the region and Europe. Appeal to evangelicals For Martin Indyk, former US special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and former US ambassador to Israel, the rationale behind Trump's decision is entirely domestic – and easily explained. "It was an appeal to his evangelical Christian base, pure and simple," Indyk, now the executive vice president of the Brookings Institution, wrote in an email. Steven Spiegel, director of the Center for Middle East Development at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), agreed that pleasing Trump's base of Christian and Jewish conservative supporters was a key element in the decision. During the presidential campaign, Trump had repeatedly promised to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Read more: Hamas calls for third intifada after US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital With Wednesday's declaration, Trump, who has struggled to win legislative victories despite his Republican Party holding control of both houses of Congress, fulfilled a campaign pledge and did so with relative ease. Low-hanging fruit Unlike many of Trump's other efforts to make good on his campaign promises, such as repealing former-President Barack Obama's health care reform or implementing a travel ban, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital is low-hanging fruit as it really can be done by presidential action alone. But there's another — non-political — factor that helps explain Trump's decision to undo decades of US foreign policy and that is Trump's inclination to shake things up, said UCLA's Spiegel. It's a penchant that in itself is not necessarily a bad idea, he added. "Shaking things up, coming up with a better idea – sure, but this wasn't weighted to do that, especially if you are not going to mention that East Jerusalem will be the Palestinian capital," he said. Read more: Palestinian youth fight to defend right to Jerusalem as capital Messing things up Both scholars disagreed with Trump's decision as well as how it was carried out, especially because it stands to cripple the administration's approach in the Middle East, one of the few regions where, according to Spiegel, Trump's policy had been received fairly positively until now. "Things seemed to be really better," he said. "They didn't like Obama generally in the Middle East and so, therefore, he seems to have taken advantage of that. He doesn't get the absolutely low grade he gets elsewhere. This messes it up." The Jerusalem decision clashes with Trump's broader Middle East strategy, said Indyk. "His aides tried to make it fit with his peacemaking strategy, but it was too unbalanced to assuage Palestinian anger." Spiegel said he thinks Trump's decision deals a serious blow to the Middle East peace process and will hurt Washington's perception in the region and beyond. "It's largely symbolic, especially because the embassy will not be moved for many years," former US special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations Indyk said. "But in the Middle East conflict is fueled by symbols."

With President Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital being widely criticized in the US and abroad, many question his rationale. Scholars point to a political reason — and a psychological factor. The chorus of critics lambasting US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his plan to move the US Embassy from ... Read More »

Iraq declares ‘end of war’ against ‘Islamic State’

عراقی فوج کی جانب سے ہفتہ نو دسمبر کو جاری کیے گئے ایک بیان میں دعویٰ کیا گیا ہے کہ سارے ملک پر سے دہشت گرد تنظیم ’اسلامک اسٹیٹ‘ کا جہاں بھی قبضہ تھا، وہ ختم کر دیا گیا ہے۔ اس کے علاوہ یہ بھی کہا گیا کہ اب داعش کو پوری طرح شکست دے دی گئی ہے۔ عراقی وزیراعظم حیدر العبادی نے بھی کہا ہے کہ عراق کے طول و عرض میں ’اسلامک اسٹیٹ‘ کے خلاف مکمل فتع کے بعد جاری جنگ ختم ہو گئی ہے۔ العبادی کے مطابق سارے عراق اور شام کے ساتھ ملحقہ سرحد پر اب اُن کی فوج کا کنٹرول ہے۔

The Iraqi premier has announced the defeat of “Islamic State” after months of fighting to uproot the militant group. But European authorities have warned that its ideology still remains a threat to global security. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Saturday announced the “end of the war” against the “Islamic State” (IS) militant group, saying Iraqi security forces regained control ... Read More »

Martin Schulz defends SPD ahead of coalition talks with CDU/CSU

The SPD leader has denied that his party has been "sulking" since its historically bad election result. The SPD, CDU and CSU are to meet on Wednesday for preliminary talks over a renewal of their "grand coalition." Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz lashed out on Saturday against criticism from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), days before the three parties are set to start preliminary talks over a new coalition government. "We have not been sulking … you have made a mess of everything," he said during his final speech at an SPD party convention in Berlin. The head of the CSU's parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, Alexander Dobrindt, said on Thursday the SPD had been "sulking" ever since its historically low vote share — 20.5 percent — in the September national elections. Dobrindt had also accused Schulz — a former President of the European Parliament — of being a "European radical" after Schulz told SPD delegates he wanted the EU to become a "United States of Europe" by 2025. "Yes, Mr. Dobrindt. It's not just me, but my entire party. We are all radical pro-Europeans," Schulz said. Read more: SPD's Martin Schulz defends his 'United States of Europe' SPD will decide its own future Schulz also said the SPD had accepted responsibility for maintaining Germany's political stability after SPD delegates voted in favor of entering preliminary coalition talks with the CDU/CSU. "It frustrates me that others have brought this country into an impasse (…) and we — not for the first time in history — now have to take on this national responsibility," he said. Preliminary talks over a three-way government between the CDU/CSU, the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Green Party fell apart in November after the FDP left talks. Schulz said however that the SPD was ready to take on responsibility on its own terms: "How we take on this responsibility is up to us alone. We won't take any lectures from others." Read more: SPD open to grand coalition talks, re-elects Schulz as party chair Making peoples' lives better Senior officials from the SPD, CDU and CSU are to meet on Wednesday for preliminary coalition talks. If successful, SPD delegates will again need to give their approval for the three parties to start formal coalition negotiations. But divisions have emerged within the SPD in recent days on renewing the three-way "grand coalition:" Some including the party's youth wing have called for the SPD to enter the opposition and support a CDU/CSU minority government. Senior CDU figures have rejected that outcome. "If we want to strengthen Europe in this restless world, then we need a stable majority," said Volker Kauder, the head of the CDU in the Bundestag, on Saturday. Schulz said the SPD should focus on concrete political problems in upcoming talks, including old age poverty, social care and affordable housing. "The crux of the matter is how we are can make peoples' lives in this country better," he said. Read more: Opinion: Germany, a paralyzed nation Speculation about finance ministry Speculation is already rife as to who will occupy senior ministerial appointments in a new "grand coalition." The German weekly Der Spiegel reported Thursday that Germany's caretaker Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, had told senior SPD officials he could imagine himself as finance minister in a new three-way coalition. Gabriel, a former SPD leader, denied the report in an interview on Saturday with German national radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk. "No one knows, what the next [government] will look like," he said. "What the Spiegel wrote is nonsense."

The SPD leader has denied that his party has been “sulking” since its historically bad election result. The SPD, CDU and CSU are to meet on Wednesday for preliminary talks over a renewal of their “grand coalition.” Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz lashed out on Saturday against criticism from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its ... Read More »

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