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Thousands in Germany, France protest Turkish push into Syria
Sat, October 19, 2019 02:27 EDT
BERLIN (AP) — Thousands of people in the German city of Cologne and in the French capital demonstrated Saturday against Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria.
Cologne city authorities said around 10,000 people took part in marches organized by left-wing groups. Police were out in force amid concerns about possible violence but authorities said the event was largely peaceful.
In Paris, more than 1,000 gathered at the Place de la Republique to denounce Turkey’s actions. Some displayed banners saying “The Turkish state is committing crimes against humanity in total impunity.”
Turkey’s incursion into Syria, aiming to rid the border area of Kurdish fighters as U.S. forces withdraw, has caused death and destruction and sent tens of thousands of civilians fleeing their homes.
“America has abandoned us. Everyone has abandoned us,” said Kurdish student Zade Adjoev in Paris, noting that the Kurds were on the front line as partners with the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group. “When it works for them, they call us Kurds. When it doesn’t, we are terrorists.”
A member of the Kurdish Democratic Council in France, Cemile Renklicay, called Turkey a “more dangerous enemy” than the Islamic State group because the extremists “didn’t have fighter jets.”
In Cologne, some demonstrators carried flags of the Syrian Kurdish force known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which Turkey is trying to push back. Others carried placards with slogans such as “No deals with the AKP regime” — a reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party.
Germany is home to large Turkish and Kurdish communities, and tensions between them have turned violent in the past.
EarthLink – News
German cabin crew union strikes at Lufthansa subsidiaries
BERLIN (AP) — A German union representing cabin crew has called members at several Lufthansa subsidiaries out on strike — a walkout that was extended by 13 hours at short notice.
The UFO union is locked in a long-running dispute with the company over pay and the legal status of the union, which has been engaged in an internal leadership struggle.
UFO initially called on members at Eurowings, Germanwings, Lufthansa CityLine and SunExpress to walk out from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday, but on Sunday morning extended the strike to midnight, accusing the company of turning up pressure on cabin crew not to participate. Lufthansa itself wasn’t affected by Sunday’s strike.
Some flights were canceled, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many.
EarthLink – News
Italian experts defuse WWII bomb in northern city
Sun, October 20, 2019 09:19 EDT
MILAN (AP) — Italian authorities have evacuated 4,000 people from the center of the northern city of Bolzano to defuse a World War II bomb found during construction.
The news agency ANSA said the bomb was defused during a three-hour operation Sunday morning. An alarm signaled the all-clear to reopen the city center, as well as a nearby north-south highway and a rail line connecting Italy with Austria and Germany.
The Neue Suedtiroler Tageszeitung identified the ordnance as an aerial bomb.
According to historian Ettore Frangipane, Bolzano, in the northern Alto-Adige region bordering Austria, suffered 13 major World War II bombing raids that damaged 60% of the city and killed 200 people.
Alto Adige was part of a broad swath of northern Italy that remained under Nazi-occupation long after Italy’s 1943 Allied surrender.
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UK’s Johnson asks for a Brexit delay that he doesn’t want
By MIKE CORDER and GREGORY KATZ | Sun, October 20, 2019 09:33 EDT
LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pressed ahead Sunday with plans to try to win parliamentary backing for his new Brexit deal even as the European Union began considering his grudging request to extend the looming Brexit deadline.
As the dust settled on a day of high drama in Parliament, the next steps in Britain’s divisive, tortuous Brexit saga became clear. Monday will feature more legal action, more arm-twisting, cajoling and veiled threats by Johnson and his ministers and more amendments designed by lawmakers to stymie Johnson’s plan to have Britain leave the 28-nation bloc on Oct. 31.
In the midst of all this, EU leaders and officials across the Channel were pondering whether to grant the British leader a Brexit extension that he does not even want.
As required by law, Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the EU at the last possible moment late Saturday seeking a delay to Britain’s impending Oct. 31 departure. But he followed it with a signed letter indicating that he does not favor another Brexit extension.
“My view, and the government’s position, (is) that a further extension would damage the interests of the U.K. and our EU partners, and the relationship between us,” Johnson wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk.
Johnson has long declared that he plans to take the U.K. out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a divorce deal, and his minister in charge of Brexit again emphasized that stance.
“We are going to leave by Oct. 31st,” Michael Gove told Sky News on Sunday. “We have the means and the ability to do so.”
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said Tusk would consult with other leaders “in the next days” about Johnson’s request, but most signs indicate the EU would prefer an extension to an abrupt no-deal Brexit.
Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne, whose country holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, said Sunday “it makes sense to allow extra time.”
At home, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he believes Johnson has enough support to get his deal through Parliament, but added the government would keep talking with its Northern Ireland ally, the Democratic Unionist Party, to persuade it to back the deal. So far, the party, which holds 10 seats in Parliament, has refused to support Johnson’s deal because it treats Northern Ireland differently than other parts of the U.K.
“We’ll keep talking to the DUP and see if there’s any further reassurances that can be provided,” Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
Johnson’s Conservative party has only 288 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons, so he needs the support of some opposition lawmakers.
While the Conservatives are focused on getting more votes, the opposition Labour Party was in favor of a second referendum on the whole question of leaving the EU.
Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer told the BBC it is “inevitable” that lawmakers opposed to Brexit will put forward an amendment seeking a second referendum — something strongly opposed by Johnson and his government.
“Whether it’s this deal or any future deal, it’s got to go back so the public can say, ‘Do you want to leave on these terms?'” Starmer said. “If so, then we do. If not, we remain.”
Johnson’s letters came after another tumultuous day in the House of Commons, which worked in a Saturday session for only the first time since the Falklands War in 1982. For hours, British lawmakers issued both ringing endorsements and scathing condemnations of Johnson’s Brexit deal, only to kick any decision on it down the road by passing an amendment withholding approval for the deal until laws enabling it are passed. That could take days, or even weeks.
While Johnson insists on sticking to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline, lawmakers are trying to avoid a no-deal Brexit, which economists say would wreak damage on the U.K. economy.
Heaping more pressure on lawmakers to back Johnson’s deal, Gove also said British government is triggering contingency plans to mitigate the disruption s expected if the country leaves the EU without a deal. He did not explain what that would entail.
And in court, Johnson could face legal challenges from opponents who feel that sending his second letter to the EU was done specifically to frustrate the will of Parliament.
The Court of Session in Scotland is already considering the matter and it may end up being decided in the British Supreme Court, which in September ruled that Johnson had acted unlawfully when he suspended Parliament for five weeks as the Brexit deadline crept closer.
Scottish National Party legislator Joanna Cherry, part of a group that brought the earlier successful case against Johnson, said the legal battle over Brexit continues.
“We’re back in court on Monday morning and it will be possible then to secure the court’s assistance if the prime minister has flouted the law and the promises he gave to the court,” she said.
Sam Petrequin in Brussels and Jari Tanner in Helsinki contributed.
This story corrects the number of Conservative seats to 288, not 233.
Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit and British politics at https://www.apnews.com/Brexit
EarthLink – News
Swiss choose new parliament, vote could see Green gains
BERLIN (AP) — Voters in Switzerland are electing a new national parliament, with recent polls suggesting that green parties could fare well in a year when environmental concerns have swept across Europe.
The election for the 200 members of the National Council, parliament’s lower house, and 46 members of the Council of States, the upper house, could offer the latest sign of how fears about climate change impact European voting.
Balloting ends at midday Sunday. Most Swiss voters cast ballots by mail.
The wealthy Alpine country of 8.2 million has a stable political landscape, with a broad coalition of parties ranging from the left to the right-wing populist Swiss People’s Party — the biggest party in the outgoing parliament — represented in the governing Federal Council. It doesn’t include the two green parties.