EUROPE ““ (Reuters) European policymakers have begun to work on new ways to stop fallout from Greece’s near-bankruptcy from causing more damage to the world’s economy. After speaking with other countries, including the United States and China, European officials are focusing on ways to increase their current 440-billion euro rescue fund. Markets fear that European banks could be brought down by Greece and other debt-stricken nations. Analysts predict that a bailout fund of approximately 2 trillion euros would be necessary if the crisis spreads to nations such as Italy and Spain.
FRANCE ““ (BBC) French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative government has lost its majority in the Senate for the first time in recent history. The Socialist party and its allies in the Communist and Green parties have won enough seats to gain control of the upper house. This major victory comes only seven months before the country’s presidential election in April. Prime Minister Francois Fillon said that the right had suffered from its divisions and that the left had a “strong breakthrough.” “The moment of truth will come next spring,” he said. “The battle begins tonight.”
ITALY ““ (BBC) Prosecutors have called for an extension of the sentences given to Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, the two convicted murderers of British student Meredith Kercher. Knox and Sollecito were found guilty in 2009 of murder in Italy and sentenced to terms of 26 and 25 years, respectively. The pair has denied any wrongdoing and is appealing their convictions. Knox and Sollecito have spent almost a year appealing their original convictions; both Kercher’s family lawyer and the defense will speak next week, with the outcome of the appeal expected by early October.
NORWAY ““ (USA Today) Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has been ordered to remain in pretrial detention for eight weeks during a closed court hearing in which he was cut off from making statements deemed as irrelevant to the case. The 32-year-old right-wing extremist has confessed to setting off a bomb in downtown Oslo and murdering dozens at a youth camp outside the city, killing 77 people on July 22. The Oslo District Court approved a police request to keep Breivik in custody on terror charges for eight weeks – four of them in solitary confinement – as a formal indictment is prepared. Breivik has confessed to the attacks but denies criminal guilt, saying he believes his actions were necessary to save Norway and Europe from being overrun by Muslim immigrants. Norway’s top prosecutor Tor-Aksel Bush said he hopes to begin the trial around Easter 2012 and hopes that it will be concluded before the summer.
RUSSIA ““ (BBC) Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accepted a proposal to stand for president in March 2012. Putin and current President Dmitry Medvedev have backed one another to switch roles, ending speculation over which man should run for the top job. Putin had already served two terms as president before Medvedev took over in 2008; he was constitutionally barred from running for a third consecutive term. News of Putin’s candidacy had been widely expected but was greeted with dismay by the country’s small liberal opposition. In speaking about his candidacy, Putin indicated that Medvedev could become prime minister, introducing a “new, effective, young, energetic management team.” Under recent constitutional amendments, the new president will have a six-year mandate rather than four years as before. The elected president will be able to serve no more than two consecutive terms, meaning Putin, if elected, could be in office until 2024.