Fourth Victim of Strasbourg Shooting Dies

French officials say a fourth victim of the Christmas market shooting in Strasbourg has died. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte Friday identified the victim as Italian journalist Antonio Megalizzi.

Police killed the alleged assailant in the market attack Thursday and searched for other potential suspects Friday. The Islamic State terror group, without providing evidence, claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack that wounded more than a dozen people, and left a country on edge.

​Two-day manhunt

French public prosecutor Remy Heitz on Friday detailed the two-day manhunt that led to police shooting dead Cherif Chekatt, in the Strasbourg neighborhood where he grew up. He said two local witnesses tipped off police after seeing a man who matched a widely circulated description of Chekatt during a manhunt that included nearby Germany.

Chekatt noted that about 9 p.m. local time Thursday, a police patrol spotted a man trying to enter a building, and identified themselves. The man turned around and opened fire, at which point police responded, killing him.

Heitz says the terrorist investigation continues to identify possible suspects in Tuesday’s Christmas market shooting. They have detained more than a half-dozen people for questioning, including four members of Chekatt’s family.

The Islamic State terror group said Chekatt was one of its so-called “soldiers.” But visiting the newly reopened market Friday, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner dismissed the claim as totally opportunistic, saying Chekatt “nourished evil within himself.”

A Strasbourg native with Moroccan roots, Chekatt had an extensive criminal record that stretched to Germany and Switzerland, and multiple prison sentences. He had been on a French watchlist for suspected Islamist views.

Relief in Strasbourg

Strasbourg’s businesses have taken a major hit. Many locals said they were relieved Chekatt had been killed. One woman told French radio she had been haunted by fears of him still hiding and ready to strike, but that the burden has been lifted.

The police have been hailed as heroes for tracking down Chekatt as swiftly as they did; but, their representatives say officers are exhausted after also dealing with multiple French anti-government protests in recent weeks. Some of the demonstrators say they will be back on the streets to protest government reforms and the high cost of living.

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Kosovo Votes to Form Army, Angering Serbia

Kosovo’s parliament has voted to convert and expand its lightly armed security force into a standing army, a move backed by the United States but opposed by neighboring Serbia. 

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic responded by saying Belgrade would request an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting over the vote. He called it the “most direct threat to peace and stability in the region.” 

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Thursday that Kosovo, a former Serbian province, did not have the right to form an army. Serbia’s government does not recognize Kosovo as an independent state. 

Last week, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic suggested that Belgrade might respond to the vote with military intervention. On Friday, she told reporters that a Kosovar army would not contribute to regional stability.

“It is better to sit down and talk about how we can build a different future, rather than look at how we can raise barriers,” she said, according to CNN. 

 

The plan approved Friday would convert the 3,000-member security force to a 5,000-member army with 3,000 more troops in reserve. 

 

Kosovo’s lawmaking body voted Friday without the participation of 11 lawmakers from the Serb minority of the republic. 

Dominated by an ethnic Albanian majority, the Republic of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and formed an independent government that is not universally recognized. The United States, European Union, Britain, Canada and Australia are among the governments that recognize Kosovo as independent.

NATO has maintained a peacekeeping force in Kosovo since the bloody Kosovo War 20 years ago that led to independence. But on Friday, NATO head Jens Stoltenberg criticized the move to form an army. 

 

Stoltenberg tweeted after the vote that NATO had made clear its concerns. He added, “All sides must ensure that today’s decision will not further increase tensions in the region.” 

 

He added that NATO must now reassess its level of engagement with the international peacekeeping force in Kosovo known as KFOR. The 4,000-member force includes about 600 U.S. soldiers.

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China Denies Arrest of Two Canadians Is Tied to Meng Case

China has rallied the power of its one-party state behind tech giant Huawei to boost public support for the company’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou. But the case is getting increasingly complex with the arrest of two Canadian citizens in apparent retaliation as Meng awaits possible extradition to the United States from Canada. VOA’s Bill Ide files from Beijing.

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Андрухович, Бондар і Дерманський стали переможцями Книги року ВВС-2018

Українська редакція британської медіакомпанії BBC оголосила переможців премії «Книга року ВВС-2018»:

«Книгою року» став роман Юрія Андруховича «Коханці юстиції»;
переможцем у номінації «Дитяча книга року ВВС-2018» журі обрало книгу Сашка Дерманського «Мері»;
у новій номінації «Книга року ВВС – Есеїстика-2018» перемогла збірка Андрія Бондаря «Церебро».

Юрій Андрухович, Сашко Дерманський і Андрій Бондар отримають винагороду в тисячу фунтів у гривневому еквіваленті кожен.

Видавці книг-переможців – Meridian Czernowitz (Чернівці), А-БА-БА-ГА-ЛА-МА-ГА (Київ) і Видавництво Старого Лева (Львів) – матимуть право використовувати логотипи «Книги року ВВС» у своїх наступних виданнях.

Премії «Читач року-2018» отримали Ольга Крамарь за рецензію на книгу Юрія Андруховича «Коханці юстиції» і Марина Марченко за рецензію на книгу Андрія Куркова «Сірі бджоли». Обидві переможниці отримають у подарунок електронні книги.

Минулого року Українська редакція BBC назвала книгою року збірку оповідань Катерини Калитко «Земля загублених, або маленькі страшні казки».

«BBC Україна» оголосила переможців премії «Книга року» учотирнадцяте. Конкурс проводять у партнерстві з Європейським банком реконструкції і розвитку.

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Urgency of Climate Talks Seen in Coal Plants, Ice

As politicians haggle at a U.N. climate conference in Poland over ways to limit global warming, the industries and machines powering our modern world keep spewing their pollution into the air and water.

The fossil fuels extracted from beneath the Earth’s crust — coal, oil and gas — are transformed into the carbon dioxide that is now heating the planet faster than scientists had expected even a few years ago.

The devastating wildfires, droughts, floods and hurricanes of recent months and years are intensifying the urgency of the two-week conference in Katowice, which is due to end Friday.

But not far from the conference center, plumes of smoke rise from Europe’s largest lignite, or brown coal, power plant, in the central Polish town of Belchatow. Of the 50 most polluted cities in the European Union, 36 are in Poland.

IN PHOTOS: The Urgency of Climate Talks 

Elsewhere, from the U.S. to Japan and China, the coal plants, oil refineries and other installations needed to power factories and heat homes are playing their role in a warming Earth.

The negotiators at the international talks are also discussing financial support to poor countries, which are bearing the brunt of drought and flooding, which translate often into agricultural disaster and famine and are a factor behind greater migration.

The challenge of reducing emissions is made more difficult by the growing demand in the developing world for fuel as people there also seek to achieve the benefits and comforts of the industrialized world.

In Africa and Asia, which have become dumping grounds for the rich world’s waste, it is now common to see poor people scavenging for scraps of paper and other recyclable materials at garbage dumps, competing sometimes with crows or storks.

Fumes from cars are also playing their role in poisoning the air in many cities, from Jakarta and Katmandu to Moscow to Brussels.

Environmentalists in Katowice are warning that time is running out to prevent ecological disaster, a message also being taken up by artists.

In London, 24 large blocks of glacial ice from the waters surrounding Greenland have been placed in front of the Tate Modern and six at other city locations. Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson hopes his installation, called “Ice Watch” and launched Tuesday to coincide with the climate conference in Katowice, will impact people emotionally and inspire urgent public action.

The installation will be on show until the ice melts.

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Spanish Prosecutors File Tax Evasion Charges Against Shakira

Spanish prosecutors are charging pop music star Shakira with tax evasion, alleging she failed to pay more than 14.5 million euros ($16.3 million) between 2012 and 2014.

The charges Friday allege Shakira listed the Bahamas as her official residence for tax purposes during those years but was in fact living in Spain with her partner, Spanish soccer player Gerard Pique.

Prosecutors in Barcelona say her travel abroad was for short periods because of professional commitments, while most of the year she stayed in Spain. They want her to pay tax in Spain on her worldwide income.

The Colombian singer officially moved to Spain for tax purposes in 2015.

A magistrate will assess whether there is enough evidence to put Shakira on trial.

Shakira’s representatives said they had no immediate comment.

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Russian Orthodox Church Calls on UN for Help in Ukraine

The Russian Orthodox Church on Friday called on the United Nations, the leaders of Germany and France, the pope and other spiritual leaders to protect believers in Ukraine in the face of pressure on Moscow-affiliated clerics.

Ukraine’s Orthodox clerics will gather for a meeting Saturday that is expected to form a new, independent Ukrainian church, and Ukrainian authorities have ramped up pressure on priests to support the move. The Ukrainian church has been part of the Russian Church for centuries, while enjoying broad autonomy, but Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has pushed for the creation of an independent church.

The newly formed community would then be expected to receive independence from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Istanbul-based institution considered the so-called “first among equals” of leaders of the world’s Orthodox Churches that has already drafted a charter for an independent Ukrainian church.

The Russian Church said on Friday that its Patriarch Kirill has sent a letter to the U.N. secretary-general, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and other spiritual leaders, urging them to help protect the clerics, believers and their faith in Ukraine.

Merkel’s spokeswoman and the German foreign ministry spokesman said they didn’t immediately have any information on the letter.

As church tensions have grown, Ukraine’s Security Service has searched Russian Orthodox churches and the homes of Russian Orthodox priests in several cities. The agency also has summoned dozens of priests for questioning.

Ukrainian authorities have sought to portray Russian Orthodox priests in Ukraine as supporting Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, claims that the clerics have rejected.

Kirill’s letter accused the Ukrainian government of hate speech and pressuring the clerics to take part in the Saturday gathering.

“The numerous instances of discrimination against the Ukrainian Church (of the Moscow Patriarchate) give us the reason to fear far worse infringements of the rights and legitimate interests of Orthodox believers,” the letter said.

In Kiev, about 100 people led by a Moscow-affiliated cleric were holding prayers near the Ukrainian parliament Friday morning to protest the creation of a new church.

Some voiced fears that authorities will seize churches from the communities under the Moscow patriarchate and give them to the new church.

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Четвірка українських біатлоністів розпочинає змагання в Австрії

Четверо українських біатлоністів виходять на старт першої чоловічої гонки на другому етапі Кубка світу в австрійському Гохфільцені. Першим серед них спринт розпочне Сергій Семенов, який має четвертий стартовий номер і вже о 15:17 за Києвом вирушить на дистанцію.

25-й стартовий номер має Артем Прима, 33-й – Дмитро Підручний, 56-й – Віталій Кілчицький.

Всього на старт вийдуть 110 спортсменів.

13 грудня розпочали змагатися у Гохфільцені українські жінки. У спринті вони виступили невдало, найкращий результат показала Олена Підгрушна, яка з одним промахом фінішувала 27-ю.

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Paris Police Bracing for More Violent Protests

Anticipating a fifth straight weekend of violent protests, Paris’ police chief said Friday that armored vehicles and thousands of officers will be deployed again in the French capital.

Michel Delpuech told RTL radio that security services intend to deploy the same numbers and strength as last weekend, with about 8,000 officers and 14 armored vehicles again in Paris.

Delpuech said the biggest difference will be the deployment of more groups of patrol officers to catch vandals, who last weekend roamed streets around the Champs Elysees, causing damage and looting. Police arrested more than 1,000 people in Paris last weekend and 135 people were injured, including 17 police officers

A sixth “yellow vest” protester was killed this week, hit by a truck at a protest roadblock. Despite calls from authorities urging protesters — who wear the fluorescent safety vests that France requires drivers to keep in their cars — to stop the protests, the movement rocking the country has showed no signs of abating.

“Last week, we pretty much handled the yellow vests but we also witnessed scenes of breakage and looting by criminals,” Delpuech said. “Our goal will be to better control this aspect.”

In an effort to defuse the tensions sweeping the country, French President Emmanuel Macron has acknowledged he’s partially responsible for the anger behind the anti-government protests. He has announced a series of measures aimed at improving French workers’ spending power but has refused to reinstate a wealth tax.

Many protesters have expressed disappointment at the measures and some trade unions are now calling for rolling strikes across the country.

“The best action is to go on strike,” said Philippe Martinez, the head of leftist trade union CGT. “There are inequalities in this country and we need to make big company bosses pay.”

French Interior minister Christophe Castaner urged protesters to express themselves peacefully in the wake of a two-day manhunt for a man suspected of killing three people in the eastern city of Strasbourg that mobilized hundreds of police.

“I can’t stand the idea that today people applaud police forces and that tomorrow some people will think it makes sense to throw stones at us,” Castaner said from Strasbourg, where the suspect was killed on Thursday.

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Nancy Wilson, Song Stylist, Dies at 81

Grammy award winning singer Nancy Wilson has died. She was 81 years old.

Wilson, who retired from touring in 2011, died late Thursday  after a long illness at her home in Pioneertown, a California desert community.

Wilson referred to herself as a “song stylist” instead of a singer and she did have a way of styling a song to make it her own.

Probably her best-known and most stylized song is “Guess Who I Saw Today,” a tour de force of cool  in which she ever so patiently waits for her lover to come home so she can share the details of her day.  

She sweetly asks him, “Guess who I saw today” after stopping in “a most attractive French cafe and bar.”  

She saw two people “so in love even I could spot it clear across the room.”  

And then she teases, asking over and over “Guess who I saw today” and finally and dramatically  reveals  “I saw you.”

Wilson resisted being identified with any one genre of music, winning musical accolades in several categories, from R&B to jazz and funk..

“How Glad I Am” brought her a Grammy in 1965 for best R&B performance, and she later won Grammys for best jazz vocal album in 2005 for the intimate “R.S.V.P (Rare Songs, Very Personal)” and in 2007 for “Turned to Blue,” a showcase for the relaxed, confident swing she mastered later in life. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a “Jazz Masters Fellowship” in 2004 for lifetime achievement.

Wilson also had a busy career on television, film and radio, her credits including “Hawaii Five-O,” “Police Story,” the Robert Townsend spoof “Meteor Man” and years hosting NPR’s “Jazz Profiles” series. Active in the civil rights movement, including the Selma march of 1965, she received an NAACP Image Award in 1998.

Wilson listed Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington and Jimmy Scott among her influences.  

The Associated Press reports that in accordance with Wilson’s wishes, there will not be a funeral service.  Instead, a celebration of her life will likely be held in February, her birthday month.

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