March 28th, 2013
04:30 PM ET

Air Force general nominated to lead NATO

President Barack Obama has nominated Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove to be the next commander of NATO and commander of the U.S. armed forces in Europe, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Thursday.

Breedlove has been the commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa. He has been in the Air Force since graduating from Georgia Tech in 1977.

The current NATO commander, U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, is scheduled to retire this summer.

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Heavy snow snarls travel in northern Europe
Cars drive in Tuesday morning traffic on the N118 road around Paris during a heavy snow storm on France.
March 12th, 2013
09:13 AM ET

Heavy snow snarls travel in northern Europe

Today isn't the easiest day for travel in northern Europe.

Swaths of the region are in the grip of snow, ice and high winds Tuesday, causing serious disruption to road, rail and air travelers.

High-speed train operator Eurostar, which runs services linking Paris, Brussels and London, among other destinations, warned of serious disruption and urged passengers to stay at home.

FULL STORY
February 10th, 2013
01:19 PM ET

Horsemeat scandal spirals across Europe

A scandal over horsemeat found in frozen beef products is spiraling across Europe as several governments launch investigations and a company involved says it has determined who "the villain" is.

The police probes and legal maneuvers responding to the discovery are quickly becoming a tangled web - much like the complex supply chain of the meat products themselves.

Swedish food producer Findus has been a focus of the uproar since it announced Thursday that it had withdrawn its lasagna from UK stores as a precaution. The products were pulled Monday after French supplier Comigel raised concerns about the type of meat that was used, Findus Sweden said.

But Findus is only one of several companies that receives products from Comigel. Others inculde Axfood, Coop, and ICA, all of which announced they have pulled certain meat products from the shelves due to the possibility they contain horsemeat.

Comigel has not responded to CNN's repeated requests for comment.

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Filed under: Business • Europe • France • Sweden • World
February 2nd, 2013
06:27 AM ET

Hollande visits Mali to thank French troops battling militants

(CNN) – French President Francois Hollande arrived in Mali on Saturday, where his nation's troops are battling Islamist militants alongside African forces.

France is leading an offensive against militants it its former colony. The three-week ground and air campaign has sent militants who had seized the northern region fleeing into the vast desert.

Hollande landed in Sevare accompanied by his defense and foreign ministers, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported.

From there, he joined Malian interim President Dioncounda Traore for a visit to the fabled city of Timbuktu. French-led forces liberated the historical city this week after a yearlong grip by Islamist militants.

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Rothko painting defaced in London
Tim Wright says he captured the image of the defaced painting at Tate Modern on Sunday.
October 7th, 2012
03:53 PM ET

Rothko painting defaced in London

A Mark Rothko painting was defaced at London's Tate Modern on Sunday.

"Tate can confirm that at 15.25 this afternoon there was an incident at Tate Modern in which a visitor defaced one of Rothko's Seagram murals by applying a small area of black paint with a brush to the painting. The police are currently investigating the incident," a museum spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail.

Museum-goer Tim Wright witnessed the act of vandalism and posted an image on Twitter.

The 23-year-old Bristol resident said he was at the Tate during a day trip to London with his girlfriend when the couple realized what was going on. He noticed a man walk into the exhibit, but he thought nothing of it until he heard a "smashing sound."

“It was very surreal. It wasn’t something we expected to see. One minute he sat down, and the next minute he put his foot over the barrier,” Wright said of the vandal.

Wright said they saw the man as he finished up the tag and then made his getaway. He and his girlfriend stayed at the exhibit while a group of nearby women went to find museum staff. An alarm soon went off, and the museum was evacuated. Wright said he and his girlfriend gave a description of the event to a museum employee.

Tate confirmed that the gallery was "briefly closed" due to the incident.

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June 20th, 2012
01:29 PM ET

Samaras sworn in as head of new Greek government

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras was sworn in Wednesday as Greece's new prime minister, following months of political uncertainty for the debt-stricken country.

He was inaugurated at the presidential mansion after meeting with President Karolos Papoulias, who asked him to form a new Greek government.

His swearing-in followed the news that three parties - the center-right New Democracy, which placed first in Sunday's vote, Pasok and the Democratic Party of the Left - had reached agreement on the terms for the coalition.

Speaking as he left the presidential mansion, Samaras said: "We trust that with God's help we will do all we can to get our people out of the crisis. I will ask the government tomorrow morning to work hard in order to be able to give tangible hope to our people."

Greece has been without an elected government for 223 days, and the new government, which has pledged to push for a renegotiation of the painful austerity measures imposed under the terms of an international bailout, will face significant challenges.

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Racism, rather than Ronaldo and Ribery, dominates Euro 2012 storylines
The families of England's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, left, and Theo Walcott will not be attending Euro 2012 for fear of racism.
June 7th, 2012
03:09 PM ET

Racism, rather than Ronaldo and Ribery, dominates Euro 2012 storylines

The UEFA European Football Championship is second only to the World Cup in size and prestige, and it's equally rich in storylines. But right now, one storyline seems to overwhelm all others.

The story today is not whether Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo can shake his reputation as Europe's Lebron James, a man who wows fans all season only to choke in big games. Nor is the story about whether defending champion Spain can defend the title without two of its biggest stars. It's also not about how Franck Ribery and the French squad can rebound from an embarrassing, soap opera-esque campaign in the 2010 World Cup.

Heck, the media aren't even paying that much attention to German coach Joachim Low's promise to break world soccer protocol by allowing his team to smoke, drink booze and have sex during the tournament. That would normally be prime tabloid fodder.

Nope, the story today is about racism, especially within the stadiums of Poland and Ukraine, which are jointly hosting the Euro 2012 tournament beginning Friday. The day before the competition began, the Dutch national team opted to train on the opposite side of its training ground at Stadion Miejski in Warsaw because of racist chants, Dutch captain Mark van Bommel said Thursday.

And while a recent BBC investigation showed several instances of bigotry and racism at club games there - some of them violent - Polish and Ukrainian officials are insisting their countries have been misrepresented.

"There is a problem with racism and anti-Semitism in Poland, but it is blown out of every possible proportion in this material," Marcin Bosacki, Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman, said of the BBC documentary. "We are hospitable and treat all people who come here as friends."

Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK Volodymyr Khandogiy also defended his country, saying, "Ukraine is very well known for its tolerance and it has a long history of living together with other nationalities. In our national football championship, roughly half of all the players are from Asian, African and Brazilian countries."

Regardless, many players and former players are speaking out, and English police issued a warning to fans after the Ukrainian neo-Nazi group Donetsk Company threatened to attack black and Asian English supporters during the tournament, Sky Sports News reported.

The families of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, black English internationals who play for London's Arsenal, have said they will not attend the tournament because they fear becoming victims. Former English captain Sol Campbell, in the BBC documentary, warned his countrymen to stay out of the host countries.

"Stay at home. Watch it on TV. Don't even risk it because you could end up coming back in a coffin," he told a reporter.

FULL POST

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May 8th, 2012
09:33 AM ET

Greek leftist leader lays out radical agenda

Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday laid out the radical agenda he hopes to pursue if he becomes prime minister, including the cancellation of international loan agreements to Greece that forced the country into sharp budget cuts.

He also called for state control of the banks as he started efforts to form a governing coalition in the wake of parliamentary elections on Sunday.

The Greek people voted clearly to reject the austerity demanded by international lenders, Syriza Party leader Tsipras said.

The two parties that made the agreement with international lenders "don't have a majority any more to vote for the plundering and looting of the Greek people," Tsipras told lawmakers.

Tsipras met Greek President Karolos Papoulias earlier on Tuesday to get instructions to try to cobble together a government in the wake of elections that left the country's political system in chaos.

Syriza will have three days to form a government.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Europe • Greece
May 7th, 2012
02:23 PM ET

Greek uncertainty deepens as first coalition effort fails

Greece's main center-right party has failed to form a coalition government Monday, adding yet more uncertainty to the debt-ridden country's political situation.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said he did "everything possible" to form a coalition, but that none of the parties agreed to join with his party, which won first crack at forming a government after finishing first in Sunday's parliamentary elections.

It will now be up to the leftist Syriza coalition, which opposes unpopular austerity measures imposed to secure a European bailout, to form a government.

That group will have three days to form a government.

FULL STORY
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March 6th, 2012
08:24 AM ET

Offers to resume Iran nuke negotiations back on table, EU foreign policy chief says

The United States and other countries offered to resume negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program on Tuesday as Iran signaled a willingness to let international inspectors visit a key military base.

The United States, France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany offered to resume stalled talks in a letter from European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. She was responding to an overture that Iran made last month.

The prospect of negotiations comes amid rising concern that Israel may attack Iran to disrupt its nuclear program.

Israel and the United States suspect Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon. International inspectors also have voiced concern, but Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes.

Meanwhile, Iran offered Tuesday to let international nuclear inspectors into one of its military bases, but only after significant details are worked out, its team at the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

FULL STORY
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February 20th, 2012
11:25 PM ET

Eurozone approves new $173B bailout for Greece

Eurozone finance ministers sealed a deal Tuesday morning for a second bailout for Greece, including €130 billion ($173 billion) in new financing.

The finance ministers from the 17 nations that use the euro, known as the Eurogroup, gave Greece funding it needs to avoid a potential default next month.

While this new deal provides some short-term relief for Greece, difficult days lie ahead as the government tries to trim debt to 121% of the country's gross domestic product by 2020. Greece's debt now stands at about 160% of GDP.

An austerity pact was approved by the Greek parliament on February 12, leading to some of the worst riots in the country in recent years. The package, which included deep cuts in government spending, wages and pensions, helped pave the way for eurozone finance ministers to sign off on the new €130 billion ($172.6 billion) bailout deal.

FULL STORY
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February 8th, 2012
12:21 PM ET

Most Ukraine cold deaths alcohol-related, minister says

Alcohol has been involved in most of the deaths blamed on the extreme cold in Ukraine, the country worst affected by the icy temperatures gripping eastern Europe, the country's emergencies minister said Wednesday.

Nine out of 10 of the deaths reported have been alcohol-related, the country's Emergency Situations Minister Viktor Baloga said.

At least 135 deaths have been reported in Ukraine in the past two weeks, but he suggested the actual number that can be blamed on the winter weather is somewhat lower, at 112.

Authorities in Ukraine have set up an emergency hospital to deal with people suffering from cold-related conditions, and distributed 3,000 emergency relief tents across the country, they said. The tents are heated, and people with nowhere else to go can get hot food and drinks.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Europe • France • Germany • Romania • Russia • Ukraine • United Kingdom • World
Europe's wintry weather
February 6th, 2012
03:02 PM ET

Shrinking polar ice caps may be to blame for frigid Europe

Europe's deadly cold snap may have a lot to do with shrinking amounts of ice in the Arctic, a recent study suggests.

Nearly 300 deaths have been reported across the continent, with snow accumulations not seen in five decades reported in some places. Warsaw, Poland, has seen 11 days of temperatures well below average, with a coldest reading of 35 below zero Fahrenheit.

As warmer air rises into the stratosphere over the Arctic, colder surface air moves south bringing storms to Europe.

Scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Potsdam, Germany, say the frigid, snowy European winter has its origins in a warm Arctic summer.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that July 2011 was the fourth-warmest July on record. A warm summer in the Arctic cuts the amount of sea ice. NOAA reports that sea-ice levels last July were the lowest in three decades.

The effect is twofold, the Wegener scientists report.

First, less ice means less solar heat is reflected back into the atmosphere. Rather, it is absorbed into the darker ocean waters. Second, once that heat is in the ocean, the reduced ice cap allows the heat to more easily escape into the air just above the ocean's surface.

Because warmer air tends to rise, the moisture-laden air near the ocean's surface rises, creating instability in the atmosphere and changing air-pressure patterns, the scientists say.

One pattern, called the Arctic Oscillation, normally pushes warm Atlantic air over Europe and keeps Arctic air over the poles.

But in mid-January this year, the Arctic Oscillation abruptly changed, allowing the jet stream to plunge into Siberia and push cold and snowy weather over much of Europe.

Similar situations have emerged the past two years.

Check out some more reports on what this winter's been like, both in the U.S. and around the world:

Frigid weather helps cost Romania's prime minister his job

What's behind America's warm winter?

Europe's wintry weather
February 2nd, 2012
02:00 PM ET

More deaths amid Europe's big freeze

More deaths were reported in Eastern Europe on Thursday as the region continued to shiver in the grip of unusually frigid weather.

The coldest temperatures continued to chill the Eastern European countries of Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, where Thursday was the coldest day yet for many.

In Ukraine, 65 people have died since the bad weather started this week, according to the Ukranian Emergency Ministry. Of those, 47 were homeless. Others died in their homes or in the hospital as a result of frostbite and hypothermia.

FULL STORY
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Quest: Banks' move helps but doesn't address fundamental eurozone problems
A German banner says to "Bring banks back in line" at a recent protest outside the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.
November 30th, 2011
11:05 AM ET

Quest: Banks' move helps but doesn't address fundamental eurozone problems

Editor's note: The U.S. Federal Reserve, acting with other nations' central banks, took steps Wednesday to support the global financial system with a coordinated plan to lower prices on dollar liquidity swaps beginning on December 5 and extending these swap arrangements to February 1, 2013CNN's international business correspondent Richard Quest takes a look at how big of a help the plan is and what more might need to be done to ease the eurozone crisis.

It is time for a reality check on what was announced Wednesday morning.

In the highly complex world of banking, this move to ease access to dollars is the equivalent of adding oil and grease to the wheels of the system. The banks are lending and borrowing from each other on an hourly basis, frequently in foreign currencies. In recent weeks, it has been more difficult to get hold of currencies as a crisis of confidence takes its toll.

The so-called swap lines (where one central bank borrows foreign currency from another) have been around since May 2010. Today they have eased the price at which that money is lent to banks, and they have made it easier to borrow across the range of currencies. For instance, a bank in Frankfurt, Germany, needing yen can get it more quickly; the Swiss can get dollars; and the Japanese can get euros and so on.

Velshi: Banks' move a coordinated effort to help Europe buy time

This will all make it easier for banks to get on with the daily business of lending between each other it greases the wheels but it does not address the fundamental problems of the eurozone.

I don't see any moral hazard issue (a term in economic theory for a situation where there's an incentive to share a risk) in this announcement. They are not saying the banks are too big to fail they are saying the system is too fragile to seize up. It is a sensible, moderate and proportionate response. What is lacking from the Europeans is a credible, long-term solution to the crisis. And from the Americans, a long-term solution to the debt debacle. Only when these are solved will there be the remote possibility of business as normal.

Olli Rehn, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, said Wednesday that we are entering a critical period of 10 days to complete and conclude the crisis response of the European Union its very own 10 Days of Christmas.

Business 360: 10 days to solve the euro - but how?

And each day I will write about what the gift or groan is for that day.

Start the clock.

November 18th, 2011
10:06 AM ET

Italy's new government wins second key vote

Italy's new Prime Minister Mario Monti won a key vote of confidence in his new government Friday in Italy's lower house of Parliament, as he seeks to lead the country out of financial crisis.

The lower house voted overwhelmingly in support of his fledgling government Friday, with 556 votes in favor to 61 against, a day after the Senate also voted 281 to 25 in favor.

Monti, who took office Wednesday, presented his proposals for the new technocratic government Thursday.

He said the main points of his program are balancing the budget, promoting growth, and cutting down on social disparities.

He also said overhauling Italy's pension system, fighting tax evasion and cracking down on organized crime will be key steps.

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New Greek PM wins key vote of confidence from parliament
November 16th, 2011
12:25 PM ET

New Greek PM wins key vote of confidence from parliament

[Updated at 12:25 p.m. ET] New Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos won a vote of confidence in the Greek parliament Wednesday, paving the way for his interim coalition government to take power.

He won the vote with 255 in favor to 38 against, as 293 votes were cast in the 300-seat Parliament.

[Posted at 11:11 a.m. ET] The new Greek prime minister, Lucas Papademos, faces a vote of confidence in Parliament on Wednesday, following his appointment to replace George Papandreou.

Papandreou quit last week, forced out by public anger at the budget cuts he was pushing through to get international funds to pay his country's debts.

Fears that Greece might default caused shock waves through the European and American banking systems and sent stock markets on a wild ride that at times wiped billions of dollars of value out of existence.

Papademos, a former banker and European Central Bank vice president, became his country's interim prime minister Friday after several days of political wrangling.

FULL STORY
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November 14th, 2011
08:58 AM ET

Italian prime minister nominee meets with political leaders

ROME (CNN) - The economist nominated to become Italy's new prime minister began talks with political leaders Monday to discuss forming a government, Italy's ANSA news agency reported.

Mario Monti's talks with political parties will continue Tuesday, ANSA said.

After the meetings, the 68-year-old economist is expected to present a team of ministers and a government plan, and ultimately will face approval by the Italian Parliament. His mandate is to lead Italy out of its market-shaking debt crisis and push through tough new austerity measures.

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October 23rd, 2011
06:17 AM ET

3 aid workers kidnapped overnight from camp in Algeria

Two Spaniards and an Italian were kidnapped overnight in Algeria from a Western Sahara encampment where they were providing aid, officials said Sunday.

Spain's Foreign Ministry said it has contacted the families of its two nationals, a man and a woman, but declined to provide details about them or the circumstances of the kidnapping.

The Italian Foreign Ministry also confirmed the kidnapping of its national, a woman.

The abductions occurred in the Raguni refugee encampment in the Algerian province of Tinduf, across the border from Western Sahara, a territory in dispute between Morocco and the Polisario Front.

Spanish news reports - citing Spanish aid organization colleagues of the two Spaniards kidnapped - said there apparently were shots fired during the kidnapping and that at least one of the three captives may have been injured.

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October 23rd, 2011
05:40 AM ET

Swiss far-right party aims to repeat election victory

The far-right Swiss People's Party put up shocking anti-immigration posters four years ago and took the largest share of the vote in the country's modern history. So they're doing it again this time around.

A poster in the German-speaking part of the country shows black boots marching over the Swiss flag.

One in French-speaking areas shows a condom plastered over the European Union's banner, proclaiming "Swiss protection against the European virus."

And the scare tactics seem to be working.

The anti-immigrant party looks set to repeat its 2007 election victory on Sunday, with opinion polls putting it in first place as voters cast ballots for the federal parliament.

A Eurobarometer survey this month put the party, known as the SVP, far ahead of its main rivals, with just under a third of people saying they would back it.

The Social Democrats (SP) are in second place, with about 20% support, followed by the FDP Liberals, the Christian Democrats and the Greens.

The People's Party won the biggest election victory in Swiss history in 2007, after a controversial campaign that blamed foreigners for much of the country's crime.

The nationalist party rode a wave of anti-immigration sentiment to gain 29% of the vote - about the same that it is getting in opinion polls this month.

Switzerland's political system requires consensus, making radical government policies unlikely, regardless of the election results.

But anti-immigrant sentiment helped fuel a 2009 ban on the construction of minarets, the towers usually built next to mosques for the traditional call to prayer.

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