- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2009

AUSTRIA

Avalanche kills six hikers in Alps

INNSBRUCK | Six people were killed when an avalanche trapped them under 8 feet of snow as they hiked in the Alps of Western Austria, according to authorities.

A 45-year-old man was the sole survivor when the group was hit by the avalanche at an altitude of about 9,850 feet, rescuers said Sunday.

Authorities said the bodies of the victims had been recovered.

The group was buried by the tumbling snow Saturday afternoon while hiking near the popular Soelden ski resort in Austria’s alpine province of Tyrol. A rescue effort was mounted late Saturday but had to be suspended overnight because of bad weather.

FRANCE

Trade unions seek united stance

PARIS | French trade unions will meet Monday to try to overcome divisions and plan a united response to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s handling of the economic crisis, a task made more difficult by poor turnout in May Day protests.

All eight main unions put aside simmering differences and joined Friday’s marches over soaring unemployment, low salaries, executive pay scandals and plant closures that have led to a wave of incidents in which workers have held bosses hostage.

For the first time since 2002, the opposition Socialist party also called for its members to support the day of action.

Unions will now meet on Monday to try to agree on what to do next but the differences in strategy may be hard to overcome.

GERMANY

U.S. wants help with Gitmo inmates

BERLIN | The United States has asked Germany to accept some Guantanamo prisoners when the facility is closed, the Interior Ministry said Sunday, confirming German media reports.

An Interior Ministry spokesman, speaking on the condition of anonymity in line with the ministry’s policy, confirmed a report in Der Spiegel magazine that the U.S. has provided a list of names of prisoners it would like Germany to take in.

Der Spiegel reported, without citing sources, that the U.S. had asked Germany to accept 10 prisoners. Top-selling Bild newspaper, meanwhile, reported that the 10 were Chinese Muslims, known as Uighurs. It also did not cite sources.

President Obama has ordered the military prison in Cuba shuttered in the next nine months.

ITALY

Berlusconi’s wife reportedly wants out

ROME | Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s wife wants a divorce, Italian media reported Sunday, just days after she publicly criticized his party’s selection of young women to run in European elections.

“I have been forced to take this step, I don’t want to add anything else,” La Stampa newspaper quoted Veronica Berlusconi, 52, as saying, adding she already had contacted a lawyer. La Repubblica daily and ANSA news agency also carried the report.

In a two-line statement, the conservative prime minister said: “This is a personal matter that saddens me, that is private, and it seems appropriate not to talk about it.”

Last week, Mrs. Berlusconi, who two years ago demanded a public apology from her husband for flirting with younger women, said his party’s choice of female candidates for the European elections was a “shamelessly trashy” process.

VATICAN

Pope: Mideast trip a chance for peace

VATICAN CITY | Pope Benedict XVI says he hopes his upcoming trip to the Holy Land will give encouragement to Christians there and also promote peace and reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians.

Benedict said he is urging particular prayers for the Palestinians, whom he said have endured “great hardship and suffering.”

Benedict will travel to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories May 8 to 15.

He spoke about his trip during his weekly Sunday blessing to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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