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BC-Europe News Digest

October 28, 2014

TOP STORIES IN EUROPE AT 1200 GMT:

GERMANY-SYRIA

BERLIN — Syria’s neighbors urge European countries to open their doors to more refugees from the 3 ½ year civil war, and for immediate financial and technological help as their infrastructures buckle under the massive influx of civilians fleeing the conflict. More than 3 million people have fled Syria because of the conflict, mostly to neighboring countries. AP Photos and video planned.

NATO

BRUSSELS — NATO’s new secretary general says that only a strong Western alliance can negotiate better ties with Russia. Jens Stoltenberg said his experience as Norway’s prime minister was that robust defense capabilities and a strong trans-Atlantic bond were fundamental to bring about constructive relations with Russia.

AP Photos GVW102-1028141116, GVW101-1028141115, GVW103-1028141117.

EBOLA-SWITZERLAND-VACCINE

GENEVA — The Swiss agency that regulates new drugs has approved the application for a clinical trial with an experimental Ebola vaccine at the Lausanne University Hospital. Swissmedic says the trial will be conducted on 120 volunteer participants with support from the U.N. World Health Organization.

TURKEY-SYRIA-LIFE OUTSIDE THE CAMPS

ALANYURT, Turkey — Just eight families used to inhabit this small hamlet jutting into no-man’s land on the Turkish-Syrian border, eking out a living near Turkish army lookout posts. Now, as black smoke rises from the besieged Kurdish Syrian town of Kobani in the distance, the village’s population has more than doubled. By Elena Becatoros. AP Photos.

ITALY-MAFIA

ROME — Prosecutors and judges have arrived at Italy’s presidential palace for an unprecedented hearing to take testimony from the head of state in the trial of a former government official accused of negotiating with Mafia bosses to end terror bombings in the 1990s. Prosecutors want to question President Giorgio Napolitano about communications he had with a now-deceased aide whose dealings with the main suspect, former Interior Minister Nicola Mancino, are being investigated.

AP Photos GB108-1028141014, GB109-1028141014, GB103-1028141014, GB106-1028141014.

CLIMATE CHANGE

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The European Union’s environment agency says the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped by nearly 2 percent last year, putting the EU very close to reaching its emissions target for 2020.

TUNISIA-ELECTION

TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia’s well-organized Islamists have been defeated in parliamentary elections, paying the price for the turbulent years they ruled after the Arab Spring that saw the rise of terrorist groups in this North African nation. Voters sought security and stability with familiar faces from Tunisia’s more authoritarian past, but the Islamists’ substantial weight in the new parliament will make them a player in any future government. Paul Schemm. AP Photos.

ALGERIA-POLICE ANGER

ALGIERS, Algeria — Hundreds of protesters thronged the grounds of the presidential palace recently, demanding a better life. Algeria has seen many demonstrations like this one in its tumultuous modern history, but this time something was different: The marchers were the police usually in charge of crowd control. The unprecedented demonstrations by Algerian police are signs of divisions at the highest level of authority and could presage more unrest, say analysts, even though the government has moved swiftly to meet some of the officers’ demands. By Aomar Ouali and Karim Kebir. AP Photos.

SPAIN-CATALONIA INDEPENDENCE

MADRID — Spain’s government plans to ask the country’s Constitutional Court to block the wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia’s plan to hold an informal, non-binding referendum about its independence on Nov. 9. Catalonia canceled an official referendum on that issue set for the same date after the government challenged its legality before the court, which tentatively suspended the vote. Catalonia then opted to hold the informal ballot in a show of determination.

AP Photos MF106-1014141014, MF108-1014141014, MF105-1014141014, MF104-1014141014, MF101-1014141014, MF103-1014141014, MF102-1014141014, MF109-1014141014.

TURKEY-SUSPICIOUS-POWDER

ANKARA, Turkey — An official says the suspicious powdery substance that was sent to six consulates in Istanbul, leading to the hospitalization of more than 30 staff members, was a material similar to chalk dust. Health Ministry Undersecretary Eyup Gumus says the powder tested negative for biological and toxic agents.

BUSINESS

BRITAIN-LLOYDS

LONDON — Britain’s Lloyds Banking Group says it will eliminate 9,000 jobs over the next three years and shut some 200 branches in a bid to improve efficiency. The group has been partly owned by the British taxpayer since it was rescued during the financial crisis and has been under pressure to cut costs.

FRANCE-EARNS-SANOFI

PARIS — French drugmaker Sanofi sees its stock price plunge after it reported a slide in quarterly earnings and warned of pricing pressure on its blockbuster diabetes treatment in the U.S. Sanofi shares fell 8.4 percent to 76.39 euros, forfeiting gains in the run-up to the announcement.

SWEDEN-INTEREST RATES

STOCKHOLM — The Swedish central bank has cut its key interest rate to 0 percent, saying the economy is “relatively strong” but that inflation is too low. The Riksbank lowers the key interest rate by 0.25 percentage points because it said the country’s monetary policy needs to be “even more expansionary” to achieve the bank’s target of 2 percent inflation.

SWITZERLAND-EARNS-UBS

GENEVA — Swiss banking giant UBS AG is reporting a third-quarter net profit of 762 million Swiss francs ($803 million), up 32 percent from the comparable period a year ago based on solid returns from its investment banking and wealth management. But Switzerland’s largest bank warns of intensifying challenges and geopolitical issues, including new concerns such as Ebola virus, and a mixed outlook for global growth.

EU-SWITZERLAND-EARNS-NOVARTIS

GENEVA — Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG has posted a 45 percent rise in net profit in the third quarter, boosted by strong sales of new products such as Gilenya for multiple sclerosis and the leukemia drug Tasigna. The Basel, Switzerland-based company’s reported quarterly net profit was $3.24 billion, up from last year’s equivalent of $2.23 billion, which was downwardly adjusted to conform to reporting requirements. The result also included a gain from divesting the blood transfusion diagnostics unit.

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