Europe briefing: seven stories to know about today

Europe briefing: seven stories to know about today
Copyright REUTERS
Copyright REUTERS
By Chris Harris
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In a rush? Here are seven stories from around Europe that you need to know about today, Tuesday, August 28.

1. France minister quits on live radio


France’s ecology minister, Nicolas Hulot, has quit on live radio citing frustration at the government’s alleged lack of progress on green issues.

He quit on France Inter without warning President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

“I’m going to take for the first time the most difficult decision of my life,” said Hulot. “I don’t want to lie any longer. I don’t want to give the illusion that my presence in government signifies that we’re on top of things. So I have taken the decision to quit the government.”

"The job of minister, especially for those coming from civil society, is at the same time exhilarating and frustrating," a presidential adviser told Reuters. "We perfectly understand that there should be a form of frustration, even exhaustion, which doesn't take away the quality of the work accomplished.”

“What a waste!” said the director of Greenpeace France, Jean-Francois Julliard. “He will have tried but could never impose himself in a government for which ecology is only a varnish. While the summer has shown the extent of climate disruption, for the government there is no choice: with or without Hulot it must make ecology a priority.”

2. Russia planning ‘biggest military parade’ for a generation

Russia has announced it will hold its biggest military parade since 1981 next month, according to Russian news agencies.

Sergei Shoigu, the country’s defence minister, said it would involve 300,000 troops, more than 1,000 military aircraft, two of Russia’s naval fleet and all of its airborne units.

It will be the biggest military exercise since 1981, added Shoigu.

It comes after US President Donald Trump scrapped plans for a military parade in November because it was too expensive.

3. Ban ‘killer robots’, experts in Geneva told

Rapid technological advances are bringing ‘killer robots’ closer to reality but international law is failing to keep up, says human rights organisation Amnesty International.

It comes as experts meet in Geneva to discuss ways of defining and dealing with futuristic weapons systems, which in theory could conduct war without any human intervention.

Amnesty says a ban on autonomous weapons systems “could prevent some truly dystopian scenarios”.

“Killer robots are no longer the stuff of science fiction,” said Rasha Abdul Rahim, a researcher and advisor on artificial intelligence at Amnesty. “From artificially intelligent drones to automated guns that can choose their own targets, technological advances in weaponry are far outpacing international law. We are sliding towards a future where humans could be erased from decision-making around the use of force.”

4. Cocaine smuggled into Europe using ‘hollowed out pineapples’

Spanish police say they have arrested seven people after uncovering cocaine being smuggled into Europe in hollowed out pineapples.

They found 67 kilograms of the drug at MercaMadrid, the Spanish capital’s fruit and vegetable market.

The drugs arrived from Costa Rica via the Portuguese port of Setubal, police added.

5. Protests continue in Germany over stabbing

Clashes have continued in Germany after an Iraqi and a Syrian were arrested over a fatal attack.

A 35-year-old German man was stabbed in the early hours of Sunday in the eastern city of Chemnitz.


That sparked around 800 protesters to hit the streets later that day, with 50 of them ready to commit violence according to police.

Counter, leftist demonstrators turned out on Monday and clashed with far-right protesters.

The unrest reflects a growing schism in German society after Merkel's government allowed about one million asylum seekers to enter the country in 2015, triggering a shift to the right in German politics.

6. Arrests over murder of transgender prostitute in Paris

Five people have been charged over the murder of a transgender prostitute in Paris, reports AFP.

Vanesa Campos, a 36-year-old sex worker from Peru, was shot on the night of 16/17 August when she tried to stop several men robbing a client, judicial sources told the news agency.


Her murder sparked a protest in Paris on Friday and demands for greater protection for prostitutes.

7. 'World’s most northerly vineyard' for sale

What is thought to be the world’s most northerly vineyard is up for sale in Norway, it’s emerged.

Joar Sættem and his wife Wenche told broadcaster NRK they had developed the vineyard, which produces rose wine, over the last decade.

It’s located in the fruit-growing region of Gvarv — 105km south-west of the capital Oslo — that is said to benefit from its own microclimate.

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