World Bulletin / News Desk
France's tumultuous presidential election battle steps up a gear Monday as the main candidates face off in the first of several TV debates, gunning for every vote with just a month to go.
In France's most unpredictable election in years, far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron have been running neck-and-neck for weeks, with the latest opinion poll showing the centrist just half a percentage point ahead for the first round of voting on April 23.
Monday's debate will be an unprecedented chance for French voters to compare candidates before the first round as the frontrunners will share the stage with trailing candidates Francois Fillon of the right and Benoit Hamon of the left, along with the far left Jean-Luc Melenchon.
Advisors to 48-year-old Le Pen, who polls show would lose to Macron in the May 7 run-off if the election were held today, said she would tear into the "globalist" programme of her pro-EU rival.
The 39-year-old former economy minister will also come under pressure from Fillon, who will attempt to claw back votes lost to Macron since he became embroiled in a damaging fake jobs scandal.
Polls currently show Fillon, the one-time favourite, crashing out in the first round behind Le Pen and Macron, following revelations of payments by parliament to his wife and children as well as loans and lavish gifts from wealthy friends.
The 63-year-old former premier, who has been charged with misuse of public funds, will attempt to shift the focus to his programme, including the radical spending cuts he says will be France's only hope for real change.
200 Turkish students visit several African countries as part of exchange program
Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer, head of the conservative CSU party, had openly clashed with Merkel at the height of the mass migrant and refugee influx in 2015.
Officials, who are presently in Saudi Arabia, are instructed to return to country
However Mattis appeared satisfied after what he described as an in-depth review of the policy by much of the president's cabinet and top security officials at Camp David on Friday.
Another eight people were wounded in the stabbing spree, which took place on Friday in the southwestern port city of Turku.
A coalition led by President Hashim Thaci's PDK party -- itself in power since 2007 -- topped early parliamentary polls held on June 11, but the alliance did not win the absolute majority needed to govern alone.
According to the Italian media, an extra 50 police carrying portable scanners were on duty to carry out checks on the 10,000 people who were in St Peter's square Sunday for Pope Francis's weekly Angelus prayer.
Barzani says postponement of Kurdish referendum on independence 'unlikely'
The president had flown to South Africa on Wednesday to attend a two-day regional leaders' summit in Pretoria that began Saturday -- which police said she had been expected to attend.
Local media says 3 armed men were reportedly spotted on Paris-Nimes train
Opposition protesters call for change in country's constitution, want term limits
Police said they had cast a dragnet for 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub, who media reports say was the driver of a van that smashed into people on Barcelona's busy Las Ramblas boulevard on Thursday.
In perhaps the worst to date, he dealt a crushing blow to his own embattled administration by saying "both sides" were to blame for the bloodshed in Charlottesville, Virginia following a rally by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
A so-called "free speech" rally by far-right groups had been scheduled to run until 2 pm (1800 GMT), but a half-hour before that police escorted its participants -- whose numbers appeared to be in the dozens -- to safety past a throng of anti-racism protesters.
Comments appearing to trivialize racial hatred have president isolated, even within own party
The accident happened late Friday when around 650 people were celebrating inside the tent in Sankt Johann am Walde in the north of the country.