TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1200 GMT
LONDON -- With little hope of halting a vote to separate Crimea from Ukraine, the West is readying to impose sanctions on Russia for what U.S. officials described as Moscow's insistence in undermining the new upstart government in Kiev, and fueling tensions among those who oppose it. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in London to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a last-minute bid to stave off a new chapter in the East-West crisis. By Lara Jakes and Cassandra Vinograd. SENT: 1,000 words, photos. UPCOMING: Developing.
KIEV, Ukraine -- Shoppers in the center of Kiev were out of luck one recent afternoon: A clothing store and a cell phone shop were occupied by black-clad men in masks and bulletproof vests. Not far away, toughs from the same group patrolled a major Kiev hotel, scaring visitors with their baseball bats, handguns and balaclavas. Several weeks after mass protests ousted Russian-leaning President Viktor Yanukovych, hundreds of members of the radical ultranationalist group, the Right Sector, continue to patrol central streets and occupy buildings in Kiev, while some more radical members have burst into regional government offices, brandishing rifles, harassing bureaucrats and even punching a prosecutor. By Maria Danilova. SENT: 970 words, photos.
MOSCOW -- Russia has warned again that it reserves the right to intervene in defense of ethnic Russians it says are under threat in eastern Ukraine. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that authorities in Ukraine have lost control over the country and are unable to provide basic public security.
LOOS-EN-GOHELLE, France -- Scotsman William McAleer had been in France barely two months when, just before sunrise on September 25, 1915, he was among thousands of other troops who launched the British army's largest attack so far of World War I. By the next day, the 22-year-old private from a seaside town in Fife was dead. By Greg Keller. SENT: 760 words, photos.
BERLIN -- The German hospital treating Yulia Tymoshenko says the former Ukrainian prime minister is in significantly less pain after nearly a week of treatment for three slipped discs she suffered while imprisoned. Berlin's Charite hospital said in a statement Friday that Tymoshenko is very satisfied with the outcome so far of what it called "conservative" treatment. It isn't yet clear whether the 53-year-old will require an operation; the hospital said a decision will be made in the coming days. SENT: 130 words, photo.
STOCKHOLM -- Latvia's environment minister will be fired for rejecting government orders not to participate in annual commemorations of Latvian soldiers who fought in Nazi units during World War II, a government spokesman said Friday. Einars Cilinskis, of the right-wing National Alliance, declared Friday that he would attend the events Sunday in Riga, ignoring warnings from Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma. By Karl Ritter. SENT: 260 words. UPCOMING: Dismissal expected to be confirmed this evening.
PARIS -- A French court has ordered an ex-aide of Nicolas Sarkozy to pay 10,000 euros ($14,000) in damages and costs to the former French president over secret recordings that were published in an online journal, and instructed the publication to pull down the links. Sarkozy and his pop-star-supermodel wife, Carla Bruni, had demanded an emergency injunction blocking publication of their conversation, which surfaced in the online publication Atlantico. The court Friday ordered Atlantico to take down the audio files. SENT: 130 words, photos.
PARIS -- A former Rwandan intelligence chief says his innocence "needs no more proof" as arguments concluded in France's first trial over Rwanda's genocide. After 5-1/2 weeks of hearings, the jury retired to discuss charges of complicity in genocide and war crimes against 54-year-old Pascal Simbikangwa over the 1994 genocide that left at least 500,000 dead, mostly ethnic Tutsis. A verdict was expected later Friday. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: Verdict may be announce Friday evening.
SOFIA, Bulgaria -- Bulgarian police say an armed man killed an officer and wounded three others in a shooting near a primary school in the central city of Lyaskovets. The shooting early on Friday followed police efforts to arrest a man suspected of illegal possession of weapons. The suspect, identified as Petko Savov, 53, reportedly had threatened to shoot at "noisy kids" playing in the schoolyard next to his home. SENT: 130 words.
PARIS -- Air pollution that has turned Paris skies a murky yellow is giving a break to millions of French travelers -- all public transportation in the Paris region and two other cities is free for the next three days. Nearly three-quarters of France is under alert in what the European Environment Agency says is the worst air pollution since 2007. Subways, buses and trains are free Friday through Sunday in the entire Paris region, as well as the cities of Caen and Rouen. Bike-shares are also free, as are one-hour sessions for electric car shares. SENT: 130 words, photos.
LONDON -- Tony Benn, a committed British socialist who irritated and fascinated Britons through a political career spanning more than five decades and who renounced his aristocratic title rather than leave the House of Commons, has died. He was 88. By Cassandra Vinograd. SENT: 1100 words, photos.
NETHERLANDS-PRINTING A HOUSE
AMSTERDAM -- Hundreds of years after wealthy merchants began building the tall, narrow brick houses that have come to define Amsterdam's skyline, Dutch architects are updating the process for the 21st century: fabricating pieces of a canal house out of plastic with a giant 3-D printer and slotting them together like oversized Lego blocks. Hedwig Heinsman of architect bureau Dus says the goal is to discover and share the potential uses of 3-D printing in construction by creating new materials, trying out designs and testing building techniques to see what works. By Toby Sterling. SENT 350 words, photos.