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  • Italy PM Renzi cuts taxes for 10 million low earners

  • Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi gestures during a meeting in TurinBy Steve Scherer and Gavin Jones ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday cut taxes for 10 million low earners to try to boost household spending after a two-year recession, making good on a promise he made after taking office two months ago. Renzi's cabinet passed a decree to reduce taxes for those earning between 8,000 and 26,000 euros a year by about 80 euros per month, starting next month. The 6.9 billion euros in tax cuts will be funded by a mix of spending reductions, one-off windfalls and a "review" of spending on Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jet, Renzi told reporters. Italy is still struggling to recover from a recession that drove youth unemployment to over 40 percent.



  • Zimbabwe's Mugabe slams Europe's 'homosexual nonsense'

  • Zimbabwe ruler Robert Mugabe gives his official address during celebrations held to mark the country's 34th independence anniversary on April 18, 2014 in HarareZimbabwe's strong man ruler Robert Mugabe lashed out at Europe's "homosexual nonsense" and condemned the refusal of its leaders to accept his grip on power in his latest marathon tirade on Friday. "The Europe of yesterday is gone, we have a Europe of today which has no principles at all," the 90-year-old told a crowd of thousands gathered in a Harare stadium to mark 34 years since the country's independence from Britain. Mugabe, who has been Zimbabwe's ruler since independence, faces EU sanctions as a result of his authoritarian rule. He refused to attend an EU-Africa summit earlier this month after his wife was denied a visa to enter Europe.



  • Strike-hit South Africa platinum miners unveil new pay offer

  • Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union President Joseph Mathunjwa (L) delivers a memorandum to a representative of the main Platinum producers in front of hundreds of members in Johannesburg on March 27, 2014 during a demonstrationThe new terms would raise the total pay and benefits for an underground miner at the Implats, Amplats and Lonmin companies by 7.5-10.0 percent a year on average. The total remuneration package would rise to 12,500 rand ($1,188, 860 euros) a month by July 2017, marking a significantly bigger increase than the rate of inflation.



  • Ukraine crisis: turning points

  • Denis Pushilin, foreground center, spokesman of the self-appointed Donetsk People’s Republic, speaks to reporters inside the regional administration building seized earlier in Donetsk, Ukraine, Friday, April 18, 2014. Pushilin told reporters that the insurgents do not recognize the Ukrainian government as legitimate. Pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine’s east who have been occupying government buildings in more than 10 cities said Friday they will only leave them if the interim government in Kiev resigns.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)MOSCOW (AP) — An agreement struck by the U.S., the European Union, Russia and Ukraine has raised hopes for defusing the Ukrainian crisis, which has strained East-West ties to a degree unseen since the Cold War. The deal Thursday in Geneva came after the four parties held talks together for the first time since Ukraine's turmoil began nearly five months ago. A look at how the Ukrainian crisis has evolved:



  • Russia's new culture policy a weapon against West

  • Russian students sing and dance around a Soviet-era street decoration with a portrait of Lenin displayed in an open air museum in Moscow, on April 9, 2014The Kremlin is preparing a new culture policy for Russia focusing on its distinctive civilisation and traditional values, which observers say has political ends amid Moscow's standoff with the West. At the end of four hours of questions Thursday in his annual call-in, President Vladimir Putin waxed philosophical on what it means to be Russian. The authors preparing the document, who are kept secret, believe that such a policy must be based on the thesis that "Russia is not Europe" and generously quote from Putin's speeches. The policy states Russia is at a historical crossroads and must make a choice between cultural extinction or the preservation of its unique "moral and spiritual foundations," which can only be done with a "state culture policy."



  • Kiev warns separatists of 'actions' next week

  • By Pavel Polityuk KIEV (Reuters) - The Ukrainian government warned on Friday it could take "more concrete actions" next week if pro-Russian separatists do not end their occupations of public buildings under the terms of an international accord. Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia gave no details and Kiev has threatened to use force before to little effect. The minister also said that, despite demands from the separatists in the east, the government saw no need under its deal with Russia to dismantle the pro-European Maidan camp in Kiev.
  • 57-nation group plays key Ukraine monitoring role

  • Local residents look at the airborne combat vehicle, which was destroyed during a Ukrainian night combat operation, in the village of Horodychevo, near Kramatorsk, Eastern Ukraine, Friday, April 18, 2014. Ukraine is hoping to placate Russia and calm hostilities with its neighbor even as the U.S. prepares a new round of sanctions to punish Moscow for what it regards as fomenting unrest. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)VIENNA (AP) — A team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is going to try to help de-escalate Russian-Ukrainian tensions after the two nations agreed to work on reducing frictions sparked by Moscow's annexation of Crimea.



  • Ukraine separatists stay put despite diplomatic deal

  • Students wave national flags during a pro-Ukrainian rally in Luhansk, eastern UkraineBy Thomas Grove and Aleksandar Vasovic SLAVIANSK/DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) - Armed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said on Friday they were not bound by an international deal ordering them to disarm and were looking for more assurances about their security before leaving the public buildings they are holding. The agreement, brokered by the United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union in Geneva on Thursday offered the best hope to date of defusing a stand-off in Ukraine that has dragged East-West relations to their lowest level since the Cold War. Ukraine said it was preparing a law to give the separatists amnesty although the drive to root them out would continue.



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  • Marquez setting pace on march to MotoGP title

  • Andrea Dovizioso of Italy leads Stefan Bradl (6) of Germany out of Turn 5 during the Grand Prix of the Americas MotoGP motorcycle race, Sunday, April 13, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Dovizioso finished third in the race. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Marc Marquez safely navigated the first turn of the Grand Prix of the Americas and quickly settled into 21 comfortable laps and his second consecutive victory of 2014.



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  • US: Obama disgusted by anti-Semitic leaflets

  • WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's national security adviser says anti-Semitic leaflets distributed in Ukraine were "utterly sickening" and that Obama has bluntly expressed his disgust.
  • 'Moores set for England recall'

  • England head coach Peter Moores looks out from the balcony at Lord's cricket ground in London, on August 31, 2008Peter Moores is set to be recalled as England coach five years after being dramatically axed from the job, the BBC and The Times both reported Friday. Earlier, a brief statement issued by the England and Wales Cricket Board said manging director Paul Downton and England captain Alastair Cook would hold a media conference at 10:30am local time (0930GMT) at Lord's on Saturday "accompanied by the new head coach". England have been without a head coach since Andy Flower stepped down as team director in January following the 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia.



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  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika wins re-election

  • Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika holds his ballot during the presidential election in AlgiersBy Patrick Markey and Lamine Chikhi ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the independence veteran in power for 15 years, won re-election on Friday with more than 80 percent of a vote opponents dismissed as fraud to keep an ailing leader in power. Bouteflika had cast his vote sitting in a wheelchair on Thursday in what was a rare public appearance since suffering a stroke last year that raised questions about stability in the North African OPEC oil-exporting state. The Algerian leader, 77, was already widely expected to win with the backing of the powerful ruling Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) party, which has dominated the political system since independence from France in 1962. Preliminary official results showed Bouteflika had won with 81.53 percent of the vote, Interior Minister Tayeb Belaiz told a news conference.



  • Italy gives wife, daughter, of wanted Kazakh banker refugee status

  • The wife and daughter of a Kazakh tycoon who is wanted in three countries for alleged fraud have been granted refugee status in Italy, their lawyer said on Friday. Lawyer Anton Giulio Lana said in statement that an interior ministry committee had granted Alma Shalabayeva and daughter Alua a five-year, renewable permit of stay. Shalabayeva is the wife of oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov, a political adversary of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev who has ruled for more than two decades and tolerates no dissent. Kazakhstan wants the return of Ablyazov from France, where he is currently being held, although on April 9, a French appeals court blocked his extradition from France to Ukraine or Russia, overturning a lower court ruling.
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  • Pensive pope at Good Friday Colosseum procession

  • Pope Francis lays prostrate on the floor in prayer before presiding over a Good Friday Passion service, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Friday, April 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Stefano Rellandini, Pool)ROME (AP) — Desperate migrants, suicidal failed business owners, torture victims and all people suffering in the world were remembered at a torch-lit Good Friday Way of the Cross procession presided over by Pope Francis at the Colosseum.



  • Italy PM Renzi cuts taxes for 10 million low earners

  • Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi gestures during a meeting in TurinBy Steve Scherer and Gavin Jones ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday cut taxes for 10 million low earners to try to boost household spending after a two-year recession, making good on a promise he made after taking office two months ago. Renzi's cabinet passed a decree to reduce taxes for those earning between 8,000 and 26,000 euros a year by about 80 euros per month, starting next month. The 6.9 billion euros in tax cuts will be funded by a mix of spending reductions, one-off windfalls and a "review" of spending on Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jet, Renzi told reporters. Italy is still struggling to recover from a recession that drove youth unemployment to over 40 percent.



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  • Hungary remembers Holocaust amid boycotts, protests

  • A person searches her siblings on the wall of Holocaust victims at the Holocaust Musem in Budapest on April 16, 2014Pécs (Hungary) (AFP) - Hungary bean 70th anniversary commemorations of the Holocaust on Wednesday amid boycotts and protests by Jewish groups which accuse the government of whitewashing the country's role in the mass deportations of Jews in 1944. Marking the day when Hungarian Jews were first placed in ghettoes in 1944, ceremonies were held around the country as part of "Holocaust 2014", a programme of events organised by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government. In Budapest, President Janos Ader and Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics lit candles at a monument by the Danube commemorating the thousands of Jews shot into the water in 1944-1945 by the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross militia. A ceremony was also to be held at Budapest's Holocaust Museum, with trees planted and candles lit to remember the 600,000 Hungarian Jews who perished in the Holocaust.



  • Serbia eyes renewed coalition of center-right and Socialists

  • Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and the leader of Serbian Progressive Party Vucic toasts with champagne at the party headquarters in BelgradeBy Ivana Sekularac BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia's center-right Progressive Party, which won the March election by a landslide, said on Tuesday it had offered a place in a coalition government to the Socialists of outgoing Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, despite deep differences over austerity. The two parties have been in government together since mid-2012, but the Progressives forced a snap election last month saying they needed a stronger mandate to overhaul the bloated public sector and stabilize Serbia's shaky finances. The Socialist Party (SPS) has opposed radical belt-tightening, fearing a backlash from its support base among public sector workers and pensioners. Nevertheless, Progressive Party (SNS) leader and Serbia's next prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic, said he had offered a place in a new coalition cabinet to the Socialists and a party of ethnic Hungarians.



  • Hungary's Orban retains two-thirds legislative majority

  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gives his first international press conference after the parliamentary election, in the Delegation Hall of the parliament building in Budapest on April 7, 2014Budapest (AFP) - Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban retained his controlling two-thirds majority in parliament following last week's election, a final ballot count revealed early Sunday, giving him free legislative rein for the next four years.



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  • Pensive pope at Good Friday Colosseum procession

  • Pope Francis lays prostrate on the floor in prayer before presiding over a Good Friday Passion service, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Friday, April 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Stefano Rellandini, Pool)ROME (AP) — Desperate migrants, suicidal failed business owners, torture victims and all people suffering in the world were remembered at a torch-lit Good Friday Way of the Cross procession presided over by Pope Francis at the Colosseum.



  • Italy PM Renzi cuts taxes for 10 million low earners

  • Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi gestures during a meeting in TurinBy Steve Scherer and Gavin Jones ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday cut taxes for 10 million low earners to try to boost household spending after a two-year recession, making good on a promise he made after taking office two months ago. Renzi's cabinet passed a decree to reduce taxes for those earning between 8,000 and 26,000 euros a year by about 80 euros per month, starting next month. The 6.9 billion euros in tax cuts will be funded by a mix of spending reductions, one-off windfalls and a "review" of spending on Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jet, Renzi told reporters. Italy is still struggling to recover from a recession that drove youth unemployment to over 40 percent.



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  • Poles most worried about their independence in at least 23 years: poll

  • People walk at Plac Zamkowy in Warsaw's Old TownPoles are more worried about their national independence than at any time since at least 1991, soon after the collapse of communism in the region, and 80 percent name Russia as the main threat, a survey shows. Most of those surveyed would like NATO to increase its military presence in Poland, according to the CBOS poll, quoted by local media. The survey showed 47 percent saw a risk to national independence - the highest level in the poll's history dating back to 1991 - as a result of the Ukraine crisis. In December last year, before tensions in Ukraine escalated, the survey showed one in seven Poles saw a risk to independence.



  • Canada sends fighter jets to Eastern Europe

  • Weapons are loaded onto a CF-18 Hornet fighter jet on November 4, 2009 near El Centro, CaliforniaCanada is deploying six CF-18 fighter jets to Eastern Europe as part of NATO's response to the worsening crisis in Ukraine, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Thursday. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Ukraine was on the brink of civil war, stoking fears of outright Russian intervention. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -- which border Russia and have sizeable ethnic Russian populations -- have all sought reassurances, as have Ukraine's neighbors Poland and Romania. Harper condemned what he called "Russia's illegal occupation of Ukraine and its ongoing aggressive military provocation."



  • U.S. to send additional non-lethal support to Ukraine: Pentagon

  • The United States will send additional non-lethal military support to Ukraine, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday, in the latest U.S. move to reassure allies following Russia's annexation of Crimea and a buildup of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border. "Earlier this morning I called Ukraine's acting defense minister to tell him that President Obama has approved additional non-lethal military assistance for health and welfare items and other supplies," Hagel said, speaking at a Pentagon news conference after talks with Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak. The new support follows NATO's announcement on Wednesday that it would send more ships, planes and troops to eastern Europe "within days." NATO has made clear it will not intervene militarily in Ukraine, which is not a NATO member.
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  • Special Report: How the U.S. made its Putin problem worse

  • File photo of U.S. President Obama meeting with Russian President Putin during the G8 Summit at Lough Erne in EnniskillenBy David Rohde and Arshad Mohammed WASHINGTON AND NEW YORK (Reuters) - In September 2001, as the U.S. reeled from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Vladimir Putin supported Washington's imminent invasion of Afghanistan in ways that would have been inconceivable during the Cold War. He agreed that U.S. planes carrying humanitarian aid could fly through Russian air space. He said the U.S. military could use airbases in former Soviet republics in Central Asia. And he ordered his generals to brief their U.S. counterparts on their own ill-fated 1980s occupation of Afghanistan.



  • Russia says U.S. treating it like 'guilty schoolboy' over Ukraine

  • The Kremlin on Friday described as unacceptable a U.S. threat to impose sanctions if Russia fails to fulfil its side of an international deal on Ukraine, accusing the White House of treating Moscow like a "guilty schoolboy". President Barack Obama said Thursday's deal in Geneva between Russia, Ukraine and Western powers to reduce tensions in the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine was promising but that Washington and its allies were prepared to impose more sanctions on Russia if the situation fails to improve. "Statements like those made at a high level in Washington that the United States will follow in detail how Russia fulfils its obligations ... are unlikely to help dialogue," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said.
  • U.S. threatens Russia with further sanctions over Ukraine

  • The White House warned Russia on Friday that Moscow would face tougher sanctions if it failed to abide by a new international deal on Ukraine or moved to send Russian forces into the eastern part of the country. "Those costs and sanctions could include targeting very significant sectors of the Russian economy," Susan Rice, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, told reporters. She said Washington would be watching very closely "in coming days" to see whether Russia met its obligations to use its influence to get pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to disarm and abandon public buildings they had seized.
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