News ID: 93518
Publish Date : 23 August 2021 - 22:02

BERLIN (AP) — Many train drivers with Germany’s national railway walked off the job on Monday as their union embarked on its second two-day strike this month in a bitter dispute with the company. The GDL union called on passenger train drivers to strike from 2 a.m. Monday to 2 a.m. Wednesday. Freight train drivers already started their strike on Saturday afternoon. Railway operator Deutsche Bahn planned to run about one-quarter of long-distance trains, while about 40% of regional and local services were expected to go ahead. The union’s demands include a 3.2% salary increase and a one-time “coronavirus bonus” of 600 euros ($700). GDL is at odds with government-owned Deutsche Bahn, among other things, about when increases should take place and over what period a wage agreement should cover. On Sunday, Deutsche Bahn announced that it was prepared to negotiate a “coronavirus bonus” for this year and called on GDL to return to the table. It didn’t specify what exactly it would offer. The union rejected the overture as “another smokescreen” and said it would go ahead with the walkouts regardless.’

VIENNA (Reuters) -- Austria’s conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says he opposes taking in any more people fleeing Afghanistan now that the Taliban have seized power. Austria took in more than one percent of its population in asylum seekers during Europe’s migration crisis in 2015 and 2016, and Kurz has built his career on taking a hard line on immigration, winning every parliamentary election since 2017. While the European Union grapples with what to do with Afghans who assisted it over the past 20 years, Kurz said coming to Austria was not an option. “I am clearly opposed to us now voluntarily taking in more people and that will not happen during my chancellorship,” Kurz said in an interview with TV channel Puls 24.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s fire department sent helicopters and firefighters to the country’s second-largest island of Evia on Monday, while the coast guard readied boats in case a sea evacuation became necessary as yet another forest fire broke out that was fanned by strong winds. This month, which began with Greece’s most severe heat wave in about three decades, is quickly turning into one of the country’s most destructive fire seasons, with dozens of wildfires breaking out every day across the country. Thousands have been forced to flee the flames, which have devoured forests, agricultural land, homes and businesses. Evia has been particularly badly hit, with a major blaze burning for more than 10 days in the island’s north, destroying tens of thousands of hectares from coast to coast. One volunteer firefighter has died, and at least four more have been hospitalized with burn injuries. The country’s firefighting capabilities have been stretched to the limit, leading the government to appeal for international help earlier this month as four major fires burned in separate parts of the country.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s government on Monday said it will extend a strict nationwide lockdown until at least Friday as it tries to extinguish a growing coronavirus outbreak. The news came as health authorities reported 35 new local infections of the fast-spreading delta variant, the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in New Zealand since April last year. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the lockdown will continue until at least the end of the month in Auckland, where most of the cases have been found. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said lockdowns were “not a sustainable way to live in this country.” He said states must open their borders once vaccination rates reach 80% of the population aged 16 years and older. His remarks came as an outbreak in Sydney grew by more than 800 cases, near record levels. Health authorities said an outbreak centered in Melbourne also grew by 71 cases and another in the capital, Canberra, grew by 16 cases. All three cities remained in lockdown.

SHANGHAI (Reuters) -- Members of China’s ruling Communist Party in the technology hub city of Hangzhou have been ordered to resolve any potential business-related conflicts of interest involving themselves or relatives, the country’s graft watchdog said on Monday. The statement from the local arm of China’s powerful Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CDDI) came two days after it announced a probe into the most senior party official in Hangzhou, city party secretary Zhou Jiangyong. Zhou is under investigation for “serious violations of discipline and laws”, the CCDI said, without giving further details. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Zhou was under detention, and Reuters wasn’t able to reach him to request comment. On Monday the CDDI said close to 25,000 current party cadres in leadership positions in the eastern city, as well as those who had retired within the last three years, were undertaking “self examinations” to review any potential conflicts of interest. Capital of Zhejiang province and a two-hour drive southwest of Shanghai, Hangzhou is home to more than 10 million people as well as some of China’s top software and internet companies, including e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.

JAKARTA (Reuters) -- Former Indonesian social affairs minister Juliari Batubara has been sentenced to 12 years in prison over a multi-million dollar COVID-19 graft scandal, the Jakarta Corruption Court ruled on Monday. A judge said the former politician was found “convincingly guilty of corruption” after receiving 32.4 billion rupiah ($2.25 million) in kickbacks in relation to the procurement of goods intended for COVID-19 social assistance packages. The politician, who the court found had intervened in the tender process, was also fined 500 million rupiah, and ordered to pay back 14.5 billion rupiah in embezzled funds used for personal expenses.

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