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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Filed under: Europe • Switzerland • World
October 3rd, 2011
07:30 AM ET

Amanda Knox pleads for her freedom as murder appeal ends

Nearly four years after she was arrested on suspicion of having killed her roommate in this picturesque Italian university town, Amanda Knox got one last chance Monday to persuade a jury she didn't do it.

"People always ask who is Amanda Knox? I am the same person I was four years ago. But I have lost a friend. I have lost my faith in Italian police. I am paying with my life for something I have not done. Four years ago I didn't know what suffering was," Knox said, delivering her statement in Italian.

"I did not kill. I did not rape. I did not steal," she added. "I was not there."

Knox and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito are fighting to be acquitted of the murder of Meredith Kercher. Prosecutors have called for the pair's sentences - of 26 and 25 years, respectively - to be increased to life.

The case is now in the hands of two judges and six jurors, who retired together within minutes of Knox's statement to consider their ruling.

Knox and Sollecito were convicted of the killing and related crimes in December 2009. Their appeal has focused largely on DNA evidence found on a knife and on a bra clasp belonging to the victim.

Knox's words capped a dramatic week of closing arguments by the host of lawyers battling over the outcome, from the lawyer for a man falsely accused of the crime, who called Knox "Lucifer-like, demonic, Satanic," to the Sollecito defense counsel Giulia Bongiorno, who insisted that like the buxom cartoon temptress Jessica Rabbit in the movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" Knox is not bad, just "drawn that way."

Knox told the court she always wanted justice for Kercher, her roommate at the university.

"I am innocent. Raffaele is innocent," she said.

At the conclusion of her statement, Knox put her hands on her face and wept.  Before Knox addressed the court, Sollecito asked the court to set Amanda and him free.

Sollecito described the original investigation, the trial and the jailing as "living in a nightmare."

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Filed under: Amanda Knox • Crime • Italy • U.S. • Washington state
August 25th, 2011
08:27 AM ET

UK minister to discuss Twitter, Facebook bans

British Home Secretary Theresa May will sit down with officials from the social media industry Thursday, her office said, as the government considers trying to ban people from social networking during or after crises.

Twitter, Facebook, and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion all declined to say what position they would take at the meeting.

Top police officers and other government officials will also be present for the meeting, which follows riots that swept England earlier this month.

Prime Minister David Cameron suggested limits on social networking in the wake of the unrest.

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Filed under: Facebook • Technology • Twitter • United Kingdom • World
July 18th, 2011
10:42 AM ET

Phone-hacking scandal leads to corruption probe of UK police

The British police officer who ruled two years ago that there was no reason to pursue an investigation into phone hacking by journalists resigned Monday, the second top Metropolitan Police officer to quit in less than 24 hours.

Assistant Commissioner John Yates - who has since called his decision "crap" - was due to be suspended when he quit, the Metropolitan Police Authority said.

The resignation came the day after Britain's top police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson, resigned in light of close links between the police and journalists they were supposed to be investigating.

John Yates decided in 2009 not to investigate phone hacking.
Ex-editor arrested in UK hacking scandal
July 17th, 2011
11:59 AM ET

Ex-editor arrested in UK hacking scandal

Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks was arrested Sunday in connection with British police investigations into phone hacking and police bribery, her spokesman told CNN.

She is being quizzed by police in London after having come in by appointment, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said.

Brooks did not know she was going to be arrested when she arrived, her spokesman Dave Wilson said.

She resigned on Friday as chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's News International, which published the News of the World.

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UK lawmakers want to question Murdoch over phone hacking
Media magnate Rupert Murdoch is driven Tuesday to his London apartment, photographers in pursuit.
July 12th, 2011
09:20 AM ET

UK lawmakers want to question Murdoch over phone hacking

British lawmakers investigating a phone hacking scandal Tuesday asked media baron Rupert Murdoch, his son James, and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks to testify before them, hours after former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused their newspaper group of illegally obtaining private information about him.

Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee asked the three to appear next Tuesday, July 19, a representative told CNN.

"Senior executives" of Murdoch's British newspaper company "will cooperate," News International said in a statement, without specifying names.

If the Murdochs and Brooks do not answer the summons, parliament can compel them to do so, Labour lawmaker Chris Bryant - who believes he is a hacking victim - said on Twitter.

Brown Tuesday accused Murdoch's newspapers of having "links with criminals" as he spoke to the BBC about allegations the Sunday Times illegally obtained private information about him.

Brown accused the paper of getting his bank details, saying he was "genuinely shocked" by its methods.

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Source: Ex-PM Brown feared voice-mail hacking amid scandal
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
January 23rd, 2011
11:37 AM ET

Source: Ex-PM Brown feared voice-mail hacking amid scandal

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote to the police last summer to ask if his voice mail had been hacked into, a source close to the situation told CNN Sunday.

The revelation comes amid an ever-widening scandal that has affected celebrities from model Elle MacPherson to members of the royal household, and forced the resignation of current Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman on Friday.

Andy Coulson, who stepped down, was the editor of the News of the World newspaper in 2007 when its royal correspondent was convicted of hacking into voice mails.

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Police issue warning after English woman murdered
Flowers are placed where the body of 25-year-old Joanna Yeates was found in Bristol, England.
January 3rd, 2011
09:36 AM ET

Police issue warning after English woman murdered

A murderer is at large in England, police warned in connection with a case that has gripped the country for more than two weeks.

Joanna Yeates, 25, disappeared on December 17 in the city of Bristol in western England. Her body was found on Christmas Day by a couple walking their dogs a few miles from where she lived, police said.

Her parents said the discovery of the body was a relief, but the confirmation she had been murdered "only intensified our grief."

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Filed under: Crime • United Kingdom
WikiLeaks: 'Surprised' by scale of U.S. espionage
November 29th, 2010
10:22 AM ET

WikiLeaks: 'Surprised' by scale of U.S. espionage

Secrets-busting website WikiLeaks, which began publishing a giant trove of confidential U.S. government papers on Sunday, didn't expect the papers to reveal as much espionage as they apparently do, a spokesman said Monday.

"I was surprised at (the) extent of the spying," Kristinn Hrafnsson told CNN.

WikiLeaks claims it has 251,288 cables sent by American diplomats between the end of 1966 and February 2010, which it will release piecemeal over the course of weeks or months, Hrafnsson said.

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Filed under: Hillary Clinton • U.S. • WikiLeaks • World
September 15th, 2010
01:15 PM ET

BP's Hayward: Oil spill wasn't because of cost-cutting

Outgoing BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward denied Wednesday that cost-saving was the reason his company put only one blowout preventer on the well that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April, leading to one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history.

"There was no decision of that sort that was taken to save money," he said.

He said the blowout preventer that failed "should have functioned" and the industry needs to understand why it did not.

If it had worked as it was designed to, the consequences of the April explosion on the Deepwater Horizon "could have been very different," said top BP executive Bernard Looney.

Hayward insisted that the company encourages staff to speak up, saying BP focused on "creating the right environment so that people feel they can raise their hand and speak up with respect to safety."

The BP executives were testifying before a British parliamentary committee investigating the implications of the Gulf oil disaster on deepwater drilling.

FULL STORY

July 15th, 2010
09:34 AM ET

Catholic Church must name abusive priests, critic insists

New Vatican new rules aimed at stopping the abuse of children by priests do not go far enough, child-safety campaigners said Thursday.

"The pope had a chance to do something really decisive that would affect the situation worldwide," said Anne Barrett Doyle, but instead issued rules that are the equivalent of "bringing a child's sand shovel to an avalanche."

The new regulations give the pope the authority to defrock a priest without a formal Vatican trial, or to hand out other punishments.

They also make it a crime for a priest to download child pornography, and declare the abuse of mentally handicapped people to be as bad as child abuse. FULL POST

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Filed under: Church Abuse • Vatican
July 6th, 2010
12:51 PM ET

U.K. to investigate detainee torture claims, PM announces

The British government will establish an investigation into allegations that members of its intelligence services were aware that detainees were being tortured, Prime Minister David Cameron
announced Tuesday.

The investigation will be conducted partly in secret to protect intelligence information, he told the House of Commons. Cameron also raised the possibility of compensation for some detainees who were held at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  There are about a dozen court cases alleging that British officers were complicit in the torture of detainees, Cameron said.

"There is no evidence any British officer was directly engaged in torture in the aftermath of 9/11," Cameron said.

But, he said, British officers have been accused of "working with foreign security services who were treating detainees in ways they should not have done."

Cameron said the three-member panel will ask questions including:

"Should we have realized sooner that what foreign agencies were doing mayhave been unacceptable and that we shouldn't be associated with it?"Did we allow our own high standards to slip – either systemically or individually? "Did we give clear enough guidance to officers in the field?  "Was information flowing quickly enough from officers on the ground to the intelligence services and then on to ministers so that we knew what was going on and what our response should be?"

The investigation will focus primarily on what happened at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, but will not be limited to that time or place, the prime minister said.

He also published the government's new guidance to the military, police and intelligence services on the treatment of detainees.

Human rights campaigner Clare Algar cautiously welcomed the announcement, but expressed concerns.

"The worry is the weight that David Cameron placed on the amount that is going to be done in secret," she said. "Obviously not all of this could be public, but my listening to his speech suggested that more of it was going to be private than public."

Algar is executive director of Reprieve, which campaigns for legal rights for prisoners around the world. The organization has been demanding an inquiry into detainee torture allegations.

She was pleased about the publication of the new rules for security services, but said it was "interesting that they are refusing to publish the old guidance, which suggests to me that it's dodgy."

Cameron hopes the panel will deliver its report within a year, he said. It is not entirely clear when the investigation will begin.

The prime minister said it was not "feasible" to start it while many civil suits against the government "remain unresolved."

Algar said the timeline "may be a bit optimistic to think they can clear all of the cases and report within a year."

May 20th, 2010
11:29 AM ET

Pakistan blocks access to YouTube, Facebook

Pakistan on Thursday blocked access to YouTube - a day after it shut down the social networking site Facebook - in response to an online group calling on people to draw the Prophet Mohammed.

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Filed under: Facebook • Pakistan • Technology
May 5th, 2010
08:55 PM ET

Britain faces potentially historic vote

British voters go to the polls Thursday to determine the fate of Gordon Brown's Labour government, which has run the United Kingdom for the past 13 years.

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Filed under: United Kingdom • World
May 5th, 2010
01:26 PM ET

Minnesota man charged with stabbing 29 pigs

A drunk man stabbed 29 pigs in Minnesota, hurting them so badly they had to be slaughtered, according to charges filed against the man by police.

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Filed under: Justice • U.S.
April 29th, 2010
06:18 PM ET

Polls give UK election debate win to Cameron

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown fought to hold on to his job Thursday in a debate against the two men who hope to replace him, David Cameron of the Conservative Party and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.

But he lost the debate decisively, according to two snap polls.

Cameron came first in both polls, with Clegg second and Brown third.

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Filed under: United Kingdom • World
April 21st, 2010
10:47 AM ET

UK's Cameron hit by egg on campaign trail

British Conservative party leader David Cameron was hit by an egg thrown by a young man on the campaign trail Wednesday.

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Filed under: World
March 16th, 2010
03:48 PM ET

Activist: Top Irish Catholic ducking blame in abuse case

Ireland's top Catholic cardinal is using the "Nuremberg defense" in the face of public outrage at his role 35 years ago in investigating one of the country's most notorious child-abusing priests, an activist said Tuesday.

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Filed under: Ireland • Religion • World
March 15th, 2010
08:20 PM ET

Pope's ex-diocese suspends sex-abuse priest

A priest convicted of sexually abusing children - and whose subsequent move from one location to another the pope approved when he was a German cardinal - has been suspended, his archdiocese announced Monday.

The priest, identified only as H, violated the terms set out for him after his conviction, the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising said in a statement. It did not say what the violation was, but at the time of his conviction by a German court, he was ordered to pay a fine and not work with children again.

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Filed under: Vatican • World
March 15th, 2010
09:33 AM ET

Vatican: Church never tried most priests accused of abuse

Catholic Church officials never prosecuted more than half the roughly 3,000 priests accused of sexual impropriety in the past decade, a top Vatican official has revealed.

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