World briefs: Germany faults U.S. diplomat

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BERLIN -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel has strongly criticized a comment that a senior U.S. diplomat made about the European Union's role in Ukraine.

Ms. Merkel's spokeswoman says the German leader considers the comment by the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, Victoria Nuland, to be "absolutely unacceptable."

In a leaked recording, a voice resembling Ms. Nuland's is heard using an expletive, suggesting that the EU's position on Ukraine should be ignored.

The spokeswoman told reporters in Berlin on Friday that Germany believes EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton "is doing a marvelous job" trying to mediate

S. African vote set for May

JOHANNESBURG -- South Africa will hold general elections on May 7 in a democratic milestone marking 20 years since the end of white minority rule, President Jacob Zuma said Friday, even as police struggled to contain violent protests by poor residents who say the government has reneged on pledges to improve living standards.

The ruling African National Congress, the liberation movement-turned-political party that Mandela led, is favored to win the elections, but its popularity has slipped amid high unemployment, corruption scandals and inadequate government services and infrastructure.

Scots urged to stay in U.K.

LONDON -- In an emotional plea, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain asked Scots on Friday to vote in September to remain within the United Kingdom, saying that without Scotland the country would be "deeply diminished."

"We want you to stay," he said, an entreaty that marked shift from the current pro-union campaign, which has featured dark warnings about financial and legal difficulties for Scotland should the Scots vote for independence.

About 4 million people older than 16 and living in Scotland will be able to vote in the referendum, promised by the ruling Scottish National Party on Sept. 18.

Asset manager charged

NEW YORK --A Swiss asset manager was charged in the United States with helping Americans hide millions of dollars in offshore accounts from the Internal Revenue Service.

Peter Amrein, 52, conspired with Americans from 1998 to 2012 to help them evade taxes, said an indictment unsealed Friday in federal court in Manhattan. Mr. Amrein conspired with Swiss lawyer Edgar Paltzer, who pleaded guilty in New York in August, the indictment said.

Mr. Paltzer has been cooperating in a U.S. crackdown on offshore tax evasion that has led to criminal charges against more than 100 people, including about 70 American taxpayers and more than 30 bankers, lawyers and advisers.

Mr. Amrein, a Swiss citizen hasn't been arrested.

Wind power capacity

WARSAW -- Poland, where 90 percent of power comes from coal, may be an unlikely clean-energy hub. Yet wind capacity that almost doubled in two years is set to grow further as developers rush to start projects before subsidies change, perhaps next year.

EKO Energia Polska among companies racing to get projects under way before Poland cuts subsidies and starts auctions for fixed-price contracts to reduce prices for renewable energy.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk has pledged to stem increases in consumer power bills while meeting a European Union mandate to clean up emissions.


-- Compiled from news services


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