Friday 24 November 2017

In brief: Thousands of Italians hit streets to demand more rights for workers

Tens of thousands of Italians marched in Rome yesterday in a rally organised by the country's largest union to protest about bleak job prospects and to demand more rights for workers.

Students have been staging demonstrations in various Italian cities against a university reform before parliament joined the peaceful march in Rome. The protesters accused Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government of cutting welfare and education spending while doing little to spur growth.

Meanwhile, several thousand demonstrators gathered in Austria's capital yesterday to protest government cuts.

Police estimated 4,000 people took part in the rally in downtown Vienna, which ended on a central square in front of Chancellor Werner Faymann's office.

Blasts kill 12 Afghan police officers

Two suicide bombers wearing police uniforms blew themselves up at an Afghan police headquarters yesterday, killing at least 12 officers and wounding 16, officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, which happened within 20 minutes of each other in the eastern Paktika province. Nawab Waziry, the head of Paktika's provincial council, said both men wore police uniforms and made it through three security gates before reaching the main building on the police compound.

Qantas A380 returns to the skies

A Qantas A380 laden with more than 450 passengers -- including the airline's chief executive -- took to the skies yesterday for the first time since a mid-air engine explosion three weeks earlier triggered a global safety review of the giant superjumbo. CEO Alan Joyce said he was flying the first leg of the Sydney-Singapore-London flight as a sign of the airline's conviction that it had completed all modifications and other checks on the Rolls-Royce engines, and the planes were safe to fly.

"We are 100 per cent comfortable with it," Mr Joyce told reporters.

Prominent hostage freed in Mexico

A prominent former Mexican presidential candidate has been released by his kidnappers after more than six months in captivity, the newspaper El Universal reported yesterday.

Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, 69, a member of President Felipe Calderon's National Action Party (PAN), was freed on Friday night, the paper said. It said the family paid a ransom of around $20m (€15.1m). But another paper, Milenio, said the report was wrong, citing reliable sources but not giving details.

Twelve held over Iraq church attack

Iraqi security forces arrested 12 suspected al-Qaeda members yesterday, in connection with an attack on a Catholic church in Baghdad, a security official said.

Fifty-two hostages and police were killed when Iraqi forces tried to free more than 100 Catholics taken hostage at the Our Lady of Salvation church during Sunday mass on November 1.

General Ahmed Abu Ragheef, the Interior Ministry's head of internal affairs, said security forces arrested al-Qaeda's Baghdad leader, Huthaifa al-Batawi, and 11 others.

UK submarine chief loses command

A naval chief in charge of a nuclear-powered submarine which ran aground on a shingle bank has been relieved of his command.

HMS Astute was on sea trials last month when it became stuck off the coast of Skye, Scotland, and ended up marooned for several hours. Navy officials confirmed that Andy Coles, 47, lost his command of the submarine yesterday. He will remain with the Royal Navy and is to be given another post.

Sunday Independent

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