ENGLAND ““ (BBC) Tenants in east London are being evicted from their homes as landlords attempt to cash in on the Olympics, BBC News has learned. The housing charity Shelter says it has seen more evidence of landlords acting unscrupulously and evicting people illegally. Shelter fears the problem will get worse as the Games approach. The BBC’s Michael Buchanan says: “The potential profits are leading to some private landlords telling their tenants they have to leave their homes with little notice.” One woman told the BBC she and her four housemates had been given two weeks to leave; another couple had been given three weeks. All said their landlords were seeking to capitalize on the Olympics. Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: “Landlords should be under no doubt that it is a criminal offense for them to evict a tenant without giving proper notice and that anyone found guilty of doing this – or of harassing a tenant – could lead to a custodial sentence of up to two years.” The National Landlords Association condemned the practice, saying it was more beneficial to landlords to have a good, long-term tenant in their property.
PORTUGAL ““ (BBC) Portugal has taken austerity measures to a new level with the decision to scrap four of its 14 public holidays. Two religious festivals and two other public holidays will be suspended for five years from 2013. The decision over which Catholic festivals to cut was negotiated with the Vatican. Portugal has already cut public sector wages and raised taxes to reduce its budget deficit and deal with its economic crisis. The country agreed a 78bn euro bailout deal with the European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund last year and recently passed the latest review of its spending cuts. It is hoped the suspension of the public holidays will improve competitiveness and boost economic activity. The four days affected are All Saints Day on November 1st; Corpus Christi, which falls 60 days after Easter; October 5th, which commemorates the formation of the Portuguese Republic in 1910; and December 1st, which marks Portuguese Independence from Spanish rule in 1640.
RUSSIA ““ (BBC) Vladimir Putin has been inaugurated as president of Russia in a lavish ceremony in the capital of Moscow. Mr. Putin is returning to the presidency after an absence of four years in which he served as prime minister. The outgoing President, Dmitry Medvedev, was widely seen as an ally of Mr. Putin. He won a third term as president in controversial elections in March. On Sunday, thousands of protestors opposed to the inauguration clashed with police in Moscow. Mr. Putin took the presidential oath at the Grand Kremlin Palace, in a hall that was once the throne room of the Russian tsars. In a short speech, he said Russia was “entering a new phase of national development.” He added: “We will have to decide tasks of a new level, a new quality, and scale. The coming years will be decisive for Russia’s fate for decades to come.” If he completes his six-year term, Mr. Putin will be the longest serving Russian leader since Soviet supreme ruler Joseph Stalin, says the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg in Moscow.
SWEDEN ““ (BBC) A Swedish man accused of shooting immigrants in the city of Malmo has been charged with three accounts of murder and 12 accounts of attempted murder. Peter Mangs, 40, was arrested following a tip-off from a member of the public and months of investigation. Chief Prosecutor Solveig Wollstad says the motive for the attacks is not clear but most of the victims had a foreign background. The suspect denies any wrongdoing. The shootings made headlines in Sweden, spreading fear among immigrants about going out at night and sparking sharp criticism of the police. Malmo’s large immigrant community was terrorized by the attacks, which happened mostly in 2009 and 2010. Investigators believe Mangs acted alone and say he shot his victims in car parks, while they walked on the street, or through the windows of shops and apartments. Police inspector Borje Sjohlm said the suspect used different barrels for his gun, which made it difficult to track him down.
UKRAINE ““ (BBC) Ukraine’s jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko will end her 19-day hunger strike, says her daughter. Yevgenia Tymoshenko said her mother would be moved to the hospital on Wednesday to be treated by a German doctor. She went on a hunger strike accusing prison guards of beating her during an earlier attempt to move her to hospital for treatment for back pain. Earlier, Ukraine postponed a European summit after several leaders announced a boycott over the issue. There is also a threat that leaders may boycott Euro 2012 football matches in Ukraine next month. Yulia Tymoshenko is currently in prison in the eastern city of Kharkiv and is refusing to be treated by Ukrainian doctors for her back condition. She has now agreed to be treated by a German doctor, Lutz Harms, in a local hospital. Her daughter said the politician “appears to have lost 10kg (22 lbs), her temperature has dropped significantly, and she may pass out any minute.” Yulia Tymoshenko’s supporters released photographs showing bruises on her body, but prison guards denied allegations that they were responsible.