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The mayor of Barcelona, Jaume Collboni, has announced plans to phase out short-term tourist rentals in the city within five years. He stated that no renewals will be granted for the 10,101 tourist licenses currently in place when they expire by November 2028. These apartments, commonly listed on platforms like Airbnb, will instead be reserved for local residents.

Collboni argued that this measure, equivalent to creating 10,000 new homes, aims to address skyrocketing rents, which have risen by 70% over the past decade, making housing unaffordable. Barcelona faces a housing shortage exacerbated by high tourism rates and its emergence as a tech hub, without sufficient new construction to meet demand, thereby inflating prices.

While some politicians and groups support the move as a way to alleviate housing pressure, others criticize it for infringing on property rights and argue that waiting until 2028 is too long for residents facing immediate displacement. Right-wing critics likened the policy to property expropriation seen in regimes like Venezuela’s, while tourist apartment associations claimed it would drive illegal rentals.

The debate reflects broader tensions in Spain over the impacts of mass tourism on local communities and housing affordability.

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On Friday, four Balkan countries—Albania, Bosnia, Montenegro, and significant parts of the Croatian coast—experienced simultaneous power outages lasting several hours amid a summer heatwave. The blackouts, which began at 13:00 local time (11:00 GMT), were triggered by a surge in power demand as residents used air conditioning to cope with the high temperatures, which approached 40°C.

In Bosnia and Croatia, the outages disrupted traffic lights, leading to transportation chaos in major cities such as Sarajevo and Split. Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica, saw even water pumps cease operation. Power suppliers managed to largely restore electricity by the evening but were still investigating the cause of the failure within the interconnected power systems of the four nations.

The power loss affected Croatia’s tourism sector, with Dubrovnik’s restaurants, pubs, and supermarkets closing and leaving tourists in disarray. Montenegro’s Energy Minister, Sasa Mujovic, attributed the blackouts to a sudden spike in power consumption due to the heat. Reports from Montenegro’s Vijesti TV mentioned a fire in a power transmission line near the Bosnian border, though its connection to the blackouts was unclear.

In Albania, power was restored within half an hour, but officials warned of a high risk of further outages due to continued high energy usage. The western Balkans are transitioning from coal-based energy production, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, to solar energy. However, industry officials indicate that the aging power infrastructure is not yet fully equipped to handle this shift.

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Roberto Baggio, the renowned former footballer who played for Juventus and AC Milan, recently endured a harrowing experience at his home in northern Italy. At around 10:00 PM local time, intruders broke into his villa in Altavilla Vicentina. During the robbery, Baggio, aged 57, was struck on the forehead with a gun, resulting in a minor injury that required stitches. He was quickly taken to an emergency room in Arzignano for treatment. Despite the physical wounds, Baggio emphasized the emotional toll of the incident, expressing gratitude for the outpouring of support and stating his determination to overcome the fear that lingered after the ordeal.

Luca Zaia, the president of the Veneto region, publicly denounced the robbery, describing Baggio as a cherished symbol of both local and national football. He extended well wishes for Baggio’s recovery, acknowledging the trauma inflicted upon the footballer and his family. The incident unfolded while Baggio and his loved ones were watching a European Championships football match, underscoring the sudden and shocking nature of the intrusion.

Reports indicate that Baggio and his family were held captive in a room while the burglars searched the premises for valuables over a span of about 40 minutes. Eventually, Baggio managed to free himself and alert the authorities, who are now investigating the incident with the help of CCTV footage from the scene. The community and fans alike have rallied around Baggio, expressing solidarity and hoping for justice to be swiftly served against those responsible for the violent break-in.

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An Indian farm laborer in Italy, Satnam Singh, tragically died after being abandoned by the roadside following a severe accident. Singh’s arm was severed, and his legs were crushed by heavy machinery while working in a vegetable field in Lazio, near Rome. His employer, Antonello Lovato, allegedly transported Singh and his wife in a van, leaving them near their home, with Singh’s severed arm placed in a fruit box. Medical assistance arrived an hour and a half later, and Singh was airlifted to a hospital in Rome, where he died on Wednesday. Lovato is now under investigation for criminal negligence and manslaughter.

Lovato’s father claimed that Singh had been warned to stay away from the machinery but did not heed the advice. Italy’s Minister of Labour, Marina Calderone, condemned the incident as an “act of barbarity.” Singh, in his early 30s, had been living and working in Italy as an undocumented migrant for around two years. The Indian embassy in Italy expressed deep sorrow over Singh’s death and stated that it was coordinating with local authorities.

The Flai CGIL trade union has called for a strike of agricultural workers on Saturday to protest Singh’s death. Union secretary general Maurizio Landini highlighted the severe exploitation within the agricultural sector, likening it to modern slavery, especially for undocumented workers.

The Lazio area, where Singh worked, hosts large farms and a significant Punjabi and Sikh population, many of whom work as farmhands. Undocumented laborers in Italy often fall victim to the “caporalato” system, where middlemen illegally recruit workers for extremely low wages. Even legally documented workers frequently earn far below the legal minimum wage. A 2018 study by the Italian National Institute of Statistics found that nearly a quarter of the agricultural workforce in Italy was employed through this method. This exploitative system also affects workers in the service and construction industries.

Despite the outlawing of caporalato in 2016, following the death of an Italian woman working under harsh conditions, the exploitation persists. Thousands of agricultural workers in Italy, both Italian and migrant, work without contracts in dangerous conditions, often paying for transportation to remote fields and living in isolated, substandard housing without access to education or healthcare. In 2018, 16 agricultural workers died in two separate road accidents in Puglia, prompting African migrant laborers to strike against poor working conditions. Recently, two individuals in Puglia were arrested for caporalato, having recruited and exploited several dozen workers.

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Serbia has threatened to withdraw from Euro 2024 due to chants between fans during the Croatia-Albania match on Wednesday, where chants about the killing of Serbians were heard during the 2-2 Group B draw. Jovan Surbatovic, the general secretary of the Serbian Football Association, called for severe sanctions from UEFA, stating, “What happened is scandalous and we will ask [European governing body] Uefa for sanctions, even if it means not continuing the competition.”

Serbia, part of Group C, lost 1-0 to England in their tournament opener on Sunday. Surbatovic expressed confidence that punishments would follow, especially after UEFA revoked the credentials of Kosovar journalist Arlind Sadiku. Sadiku made a provocative double-handed eagle gesture, symbolizing Albania’s national flag, towards Serbian fans during the England game, exacerbating tensions between Serbian nationalists and ethnic Albanians, predominantly in Kosovo.

Surbatovic demanded that UEFA sanction both federations involved, indicating Serbia’s willingness to reconsider their participation if no actions were taken. The Serbian FA also sent a letter to UEFA’s general secretary Theodore Theodoridis, condemning the “shameful joint chanting.”

The BBC reached out to UEFA for comments on the issue. Serbia was previously fined £12,250 for fan misconduct during the England match, and both Serbia and Albania faced fines for displaying nationalist banners during their opening matches.

Surbatovic claimed, “We were punished for isolated cases and our fans behaved much better than the others,” emphasizing that the actions of a single fan should not tarnish the entire Serbian fanbase. He appealed to Serbian fans to continue demonstrating gentlemanly conduct.

Serbia’s next game is against Slovenia at 14:00 BST on Thursday.

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French President Emmanuel Macron has raised serious concerns about the growing threat of antisemitism in schools after a 12-year-old Jewish girl was raped in what police have classified as a hate crime. According to French media, the girl reported being in a park in Courbevoie, north-west of Paris, with a friend last Saturday when three boys, two aged 13 and one aged 12, approached her. She knew at least one of them. The boys dragged her to an isolated location, where they hurled antisemitic abuse at her and raped her.

The boys were arrested on Monday, and two of them were charged with gang rape, antisemitic insults and violence, and issuing death threats. One of the attackers reportedly threatened to kill the girl if she went to the police. In response to the attack, people took to the streets on Wednesday to protest against antisemitism, carrying banners with messages such as “It could have been your sister.”

Macron addressed the attack during a Council of Ministers meeting on Wednesday. He asked the Minister of Education, Nicole Belloubet, to ensure that schools hold discussions on racism and antisemitism in the coming days to prevent “hateful speech with serious consequences” from “infiltrating” classrooms. Belloubet later condemned the crime on social media, stating that “every part of this crime is revolting.” Prime Minister Gabriel Attal called the attack “absolutely despicable, unbearable, and unspeakable,” noting that antisemitism has been on the rise in France since October 7.

Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia expressed horror at the incident and called for the perpetrators to be firmly punished. He emphasized that no one can be excused from the current surge in antisemitism. A January 2024 report by the Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) highlighted a 284% increase in antisemitic acts between 2022 and 2023, with nearly 13% occurring in schools. The report noted a significant spike in such incidents following the October 7 Hamas attacks against communities in Israel.

The attack and the rise in antisemitism come amid a heated election campaign in France, after President Macron called a snap parliamentary election two weeks ago. Politicians from various parties quickly condemned the incident and vowed to combat antisemitism.

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French film star Anouk Aimée, renowned for her work with many of Europe’s most influential directors, has passed away at the age of 92. Aimée, whose career spanned eight decades, starred in numerous films, including Claude Lelouch’s “A Man and a Woman,” which earned her an Oscar nomination. She died at her Paris home on Tuesday, as confirmed by Sébastien Perrolat of the TimeArt agency to the AFP news agency. Her daughter, Manuela Papatakis, shared that she was by her mother’s side at the time of her death. Papatakis expressed her grief on Instagram, posting a black-and-white photograph of Aimée and mentioning that she, her daughter Galaad, and her granddaughter Mila, were deeply saddened by Aimée’s passing.

French Culture Minister Rachida Dati paid tribute to Aimée on X, praising her as a world-famous icon and a prominent figure in French cinema who worked with major directors like Jacques Demy, Claude Lelouch, and Federico Fellini.

Born Nicole Françoise Florence Dreyfus in Paris in 1932, Aimée’s father was Jewish, though she was raised Catholic. After the German occupation of Paris in 1940, her family sent her to the countryside and changed her name for safety. Aimée debuted on screen as a teenager in the 1946 film “La Maison Sous La Mer” and adopted her character’s name, Anouk. French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prevert suggested she change her surname to Aimée, meaning “loved.”

Aimée was in high demand for Italian and French films. Her career took off with Fellini’s acclaimed 1960 film “La Dolce Vita” and continued with “8½” in 1963. However, it was her role in Lelouch’s 1966 film “A Man and a Woman” that cemented her status as an icon of romantic cinema. This performance earned her a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and an Oscar nomination, making her the first actor nominated for an Oscar for a French-language performance. Although she did not win, the film received the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Throughout her career, Aimée starred in 70 films and received an honorary César Award in 2002. In 2019, she attended the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of Lelouch’s sequel to “A Man and a Woman,” where she reunited with her co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant.

Renowned for her beauty and acting talent, Aimée was named one of the “100 sexiest stars in film history” by Empire magazine in 1995. She had one daughter, Manuela, with film director Nico Papatakis, one of her four husbands. She was also married to composer Pierre Barouh and British actor Albert Finney. Aimée spent her later years in the Montmartre district of Paris.

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A citizens’ group has decided how to distribute the fortune of Marlene Engelhorn, an Austro-German heiress. Earlier this year, Engelhorn established a panel of 50 individuals to determine how to allocate the millions she inherited from her grandmother. The funds will benefit 77 organizations, including social and climate groups, as well as notable left-wing entities.

Marlene Engelhorn, 32, gained attention in January for announcing her intention to donate €25 million (£21 million), the majority of her inheritance. As a descendant of Friedrich Engelhorn, the founder of the German chemical and pharmaceutical giant BASF, Engelhorn is a vocal proponent of wealth redistribution. She selected a panel, chosen by a pollster to reflect Austrian society, to decide the fate of her inheritance.

From March to June, the group convened over six weekends in Salzburg to devise a plan for the money. They decided it should be distributed to 77 various organizations, charities, and think tanks, addressing issues like environmental protection, education, integration, health, social matters, poverty, homelessness, and affordable housing in Austria. Donations range from €40,000 (£33,400) for climate change data-based reporting to €1.6 million for the Austrian Nature Conservation Federation. A million euros were allocated to the left-wing Momentum Institute and Attac Austria, an opponent of neoliberal economic policies and deregulated financial markets. Religious charities, including projects by the Catholic aid organization Caritas, also received funds. In most cases, the donations will be distributed over several years.

The youngest panel member, 17-year-old student Kyrillos Gadalla from Vienna, expressed that he had “learnt a lot” from the experience. In her statement, Engelhorn emphasized that her inherited wealth, which gave her unearned power, contradicts democratic principles and has now been redistributed according to democratic values.

Engelhorn inherited millions following the death of her grandmother, Traudl Engelhorn-Vechiatto, in September 2022. Traudl’s wealth was estimated by Forbes at $4.2 billion (£3.3 billion; €3.8 billion). Even before her grandmother’s passing, Engelhorn declared her intention to donate a substantial portion of her inheritance. While the exact amount she retains is unknown, she previously stated in 2021 that she planned to give away at least 90% of her wealth, as she had not earned it and merely benefited from a “birth lottery.” Engelhorn has also advocated for the reinstatement of inheritance tax in Austria, which was abolished in 2008, making Austria one of the few European countries without such a tax.

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The captain of an aid ship recounted the dramatic rescue of migrants trapped in the cargo hold of a sinking boat off the coast of Italy. Ingo Veert, captain of the RESQSHIP aid vessel, shared on BBC’s Today programme how his crew used axes and hammers to save two men from below deck after initially rescuing 50 migrants from the deck of the distressed boat near Lampedusa. Sadly, 10 men were found dead below deck.

Another 64 migrants are reported missing at sea after a second vessel sank near Calabria, approximately 125 miles off the Italian coast. Of the 12 survivors from this incident, one died after reaching shore, as confirmed by the Italian coastguard.

The survivors of the Lampedusa incident were handed over to the Italian coastguard on Monday morning, while the deceased were being transported to the island, according to RESQSHIP. The migrants had departed from Libya and Turkey, each paying around $3,500 (£2,759) for the journey, as reported by Ansa news agency.

Captain Veert, who commands the Nadir rescue ship, recounted receiving the first distress call at 01:30 local time about an overloaded migrant boat. By 03:00, his crew reached the sinking vessel, where they found water flooding in and people in a state of panic. The crew distributed life jackets and used axes and hammers to break through the deck to rescue two trapped men, one of whom had a dangerously low body temperature of 32°C. Veert described the survivors as very young men, aged between 18 and 25, from Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, according to UN agencies.

In the separate Calabria incident, aid agencies reported that many of the missing are children, with at least 26 among the unaccounted for. Shakilla Mohammadi of MSF relayed survivors’ accounts indicating that 66 people, including entire families from Afghanistan, were missing. These families had left Turkey eight days prior, endured several days taking on water, and lacked life vests. Some vessels had passed without offering assistance.

The Mediterranean remains the deadliest migration route globally, with over 23,500 migrants dead or missing since 2014, according to UN data.

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A fleet of Russian warships departed from the port of Havana after a five-day stay, during which they conducted planned military exercises. The fleet, which included a nuclear-powered submarine and a frigate, had been anchored in Havana Bay, approximately 90 miles (145km) from Florida, USA. The United States stated that it viewed the visit as non-threatening but closely monitored the vessels. In response, the US stationed its submarine, the USS Helena, at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

As the Russian vessels departed on Monday, locals reportedly waved Russian flags. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel visited the frigate during its stay and interacted with the sailors. Cuba’s foreign ministry assured that none of the visiting vessels carried nuclear weapons and emphasized that the visit posed no threat to the region.

However, Russia’s defense ministry highlighted that both the Admiral Gorshkov frigate and the Kazan submarine were equipped with advanced weaponry, including hypersonic missiles like the Zircon, and had recently conducted missile drills in the Atlantic. The visit was seen as a symbolic show of support for Cuba’s communist government and its ally Venezuela, potentially indicating the warships’ next destination.

While Russia and Cuba have a history of military cooperation, the timing of these exercises drew attention due to ongoing tensions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Some observers interpreted the operation as Moscow’s way of asserting itself amidst international scrutiny.

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