ENGLAND – (BBC) Liam Fox, Britain’s defense minister, has resigned amid an uproar involving a friend who worked as an adviser, but did not have an official governmental position. In a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, Fox said “I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my government activities to become blurred. The consequences of this have become clearer in recent days. I am very sorry for this.” Fox said he is proud of reforms he has overseen at the ministry, for the country’s armed forces, and for his role “in helping to liberate the people of Libya.” He praised military personnel, saying, “I regret that I will not see through to its conclusion Britain’s role in Afghanistan, where so much progress has been made.” Cameron told Fox in a letter that he was “very sorry” about his departure, saying he’s done “a superb job in the 17 months since the election and as shadow defense secretary before that.” He said that Fox could be proud of the difference he made in office and in helping the Conservatives return to the government.
FRANCE ““ (BBC) A French inquiry into attempted rape claims against ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been dropped. Writer Tristane Banon has accused Mr. Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape in 2003. The prosecutor’s office said the evidence suggested sexual assault, a less serious offense than attempted rape with a shorter statute of limitations (under French law, the statute of limitations for attempted rape is 10 years, but three years for sexual assault). Her accusation emerged while Strauss-Kahn was accused of rape in New York ““ that case was later dropped. Ms. Banon’s lawyer has described the decision as a victory: “Mr. Strauss-Kahn will have to be satisfied with being an unconvicted sex attacker, protected by the statute of limitations, allowing him to escape criminal prosecution, but not a legitimate suspicion,” lawyer David Koubbi said. The ruling, he added, demonstrated “the facts that [Ms. Banon] complained of were not “˜imaginary’ contrary to Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s claims.” Mr. Strauss-Kahn was previously said to have admitted making “an advance” on Ms. Banon, but denied any violence and is suing for slander. He still faces a civil suit in the United States by his alleged victim in New York.
GERMANY ““ (CNN) At least seven homemade explosives have been found along Berlin’s railways within the last week, severely disrupting traffic on several lines. Two of the devices have exploded ““ one last Monday and one last Wednesday ““ but no one was killed or injured in the blasts. Since last Monday, at least 2,000 trains have been delayed due to the attacks, a spokesman for Deutsche Bahn told CNN. Another arson attempt ““ this one at Berlin’s central train station ““ failed because officials discovered the device before it exploded. Deutsche Bahn is offering a 100,000 euro (U.S. $138,120) reward for information leading to the arrests of those behind the blasts, according to a statement from the company. A group called the “Hekla Welcome Committee-Initiative for More Social Eruptions” has claimed responsibility for the explosions. “This morning we slowed down the German capital and its function as a global player in the export of armaments,” said a statement from the group released on a leftist website. However, the group said it is not acting “with the intention to endanger somebody’s life.” The group blames Germany’s involvement in the Afghan war for the attacks.
ITALY ““ (BBC) Riot police have fought protestors in Rome as the biggest of a series of global rallies against banks and politicians tipped into violence. At least 70 people were injured as police fought masked rioters with tear gas, water cannons, and batons. Other protestors attempted to stop the rioters as they attacked cars and businesses, marring a peaceful rally. Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement and Spain’s “Indignants,” demonstrators turned out from all corners of the world for an event organizers stated as aiming at initiating global change. “United in one voice, we will let politicians and the financial elites they serve know it is up to us, the people, to decide our future,” they added.
NORWAY ““ (CNN) Norwegian police will no longer insist that confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik be held in isolation as he awaits trial on terror charges for July attacks that killed 77 people. Police attorney Christian Hatlo said investigators are increasingly confident that Breivik had no accomplices when he set off a bomb in Oslo’s government district and opened fire at a political youth camp outside of the capital. Breivik’s period of solitary confinement expires next week and police will not ask for an extension. However, authorities at the Ila prison where Breivik is currently being held still want to keep him isolated from other prisoners for security reasons ““ a ban on newspapers, visitors, correspondence, Internet, and TV access is in effect until November 14. Breivik’s trial is estimated to start around Easter next year ““ he has pleaded not guilty.
SLOVAKIA – (BBC) Slovakia’s parliament has ratified a plan to bolster a eurozone rescue fund, just two days after MPs rejected it. The decision means all 17 eurozone states have now approved the plan to tackle the eurozone debt crisis. The plan envisages expanding the effective lending capacity of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to 440 billion euros ($600 billion). The fund would also be empowered to buy eurozone government debt and offer credit lines to member states and to banks. Slovak lawmakers approved the eurozone rescue plan after a separate vote to hold snap elections on March 10, 2012 – a key demand of the opposition. The first attempt failed because one of the four coalition allies in Prime Minister Iveta Radicova’s center-right government refused to back the move. The Freedom and Solidary party asked why Slovakia’s taxpayers should be required to help cover the debts of richer countries. Many Slovaks feel their country – the second poorest in the eurozone – should not have to bail out countries like Greece, correspondents say.