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BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP

March 12, 2015

TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1210 GMT

BRITAIN-SURVEILLANCE

LONDON — U.K. spies intercept Britons’ online communications in bulk and keep personal data on large numbers of British citizens — but not enough to amount to blanket surveillance or “reading everyone’s emails,” lawmakers said Thursday. The agencies’ surveillance powers have been under scrutiny since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of spies’ ability to monitor phone and online communications. By Jill Lawless. SENT: 300 words.

ANDORRA-BANK INTERVENTION

MADRID — The board of Spain’s Banco de Madrid bank catering to wealthy clients has asked to resign after its Andorran owner was accused by the U.S. of money laundering for clients from China, Russia and Venezuela, Banco de Madrid said Thursday. The bank’s seven-member board held a special meeting and unanimously made the resignation request to the Spanish central bank late Wednesday to “defend the interests of employees and clients” and “eliminate any doubt about the stability” of the bank. By Alan Clendenning. SENT: 260 words, photos.

VATICAN-POPE’S ANNIVERSARY

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis marks his second anniversary Friday riding a wave of popularity that has reinvigorated the Catholic Church in ways not seen since the days of St. John Paul II. He’s also entering a challenging third year, facing dissent from within on everything from financial reform to family issues. By Nicole Winfield. UPCOMING: 1,200 words, photos.

EUROPE-TERROR

BRUSSELS — Top European Union law enforcement officials were expected to agree Thursday on quick fixes to make it tougher for terrorism suspects to travel abroad or return home unimpeded. EU interior ministers, meeting in Brussels, were to be asked to decide that the passports of everyone leaving or entering the 26-nation Schengen area should be checked against databases to ensure they are not stolen, forged or void. John-Thor Dahlburg.

RUSSIA-PUTIN

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has dismissed rumors circulating on the Internet that the Russian leader is in poor health. Dmitry Peskov told Ekho Moskvy radio station Thursday that the president was “absolutely” healthy, adding that the president’s handshake was still so strong it could “break your hand.” By Laura Mills. SENT: 250 words.

EUROPE-MIGRATION

BRUSSELS — The European Union is studying new ways to beef up border patrols in the face of an unprecedented influx of migrants crossing the Mediterranean and traveling through the Balkans. EU presidency nation Latvia is struggling to persuade the 28 member countries to provide more funds and resources for the border agency Frontex, given broad opposition to creating an EU border guard system. SENT: 110 words.

GERMANY-STRIKES

BERLIN — German public service workers are on strike again as their union seeks to increase pressure on the government ahead of a new round of wage negotiations next week. Following one-day strikes in six German states Wednesday, the ver.di union said teachers, hospital workers and others in public sector jobs in four other states went on strike Thursday. Short-term “warning strikes” are a common union tactic in Germany and more were planned for Friday. SENT: 140 words, photos.

RUSSIA-FIRE

MOSCOW — Russian emergency officials say five people are confirmed dead and 25 more are missing and presumed dead after a shopping center in the city of Kazan collapsed in a fire. Officials said Thursday that the toll of missing is based on reports from relatives and workers in the shopping center, 720 kilometers (450 miles) east of Moscow. SENT: 110 words, photos.

RUSSIA-NEMTSOV

MOSCOW — The daughter of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov says that President Vladimir Putin is “politically” responsible for her father’s death. In an interview in Italy with the BBC, Zhanna Nemtsova said that her father was “a critic of Putin, he fought with Putin, with nobody else,” and said she blamed the president for his death. SENT: 130 words.

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