Treatment of Roma comes under fire

France’s treatment of thousands of Roma migrants who have been expelled to Eastern
Europe came under new scrutiny Wednesday from the European Commission and a leading rights group, after Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the migrants had a “duty to return to their homeland.”

Amnesty International said more than 10,000 Roma, also known as Gypsies, had been evicted from French squatter camps from January through August, with many forced to return to Romania and Bulgaria, despite European Union rules requiring free movement for all E.U. citizens.

Many Roma in France live in camps lacking running water or electricity. Without regular documentation of their residence, they have a hard time enrolling children in school, applying for subsidized housing, getting health care or finding permanent work.

Amnesty said those problems are compounded with each forced evacuation, further marginalizing the migrants, while many French blame the Roma for a rise in crime and an influx of beggars. On Wednesday, Valls refused to retract his comment of a day earlier, adding that the Roma had failed to integrate and that France had no responsibility to them.

— Associated Press

Putin: Greenpeace activists not pirates

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Greenpeace activists apprehended after trying to scale an offshore oil platform aren’t pirates, but he defended their detention by saying coast guard officers had no way of knowing who they were. Environmentalists viewed Putin’s comments as a conciliatory move.

Two members of the group were detained Sept. 18 as they tried to scale the Arctic platform. The next day the coast guard seized the group’s ship and towed it with 30 activists aboard to Murmansk, where they are being questioned by investigators considering piracy charges.

Putin, speaking at a forum on Arctic affairs, said that “it’s completely obvious they aren’t pirates.” He added, however, that the officers “didn’t know who was trying to seize the platform under the guise of Greenpeace.”

“Especially in view of the events in Kenya, really, anything can happen,” he said, referring to the deadly mall attack in Nairobi.

— Associated Press

At least 33 killed in violence across Iraq: At least 33 people were killed in attacks across Iraq that included a coordinated assault on local government and police buildings in the northern town of Hawijah that left three soldiers and three assailants dead, police and medical sources said. In other violence, a bomb planted in a cart on a commercial street in the northern city of Mosul exploded, killing seven people, and a roadside bomb south of Tikrit killed five more, police said.

Ni­ger­ian militant leader appears in video: The leader of an Islamist uprising in Nigeria’s northeast has resurfaced, asserting responsibility for a recent spate of attacks. In August, the Ni­ger­ian military said Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau might have been killed. In a video viewed Wednesday a man believed to be Shekau, sitting in a jungle environment, responded: “The world should know that I cannot die except by the will of Allah.”

Sudan drops off Internet on 3rd day of rioting: Sudan disappeared almost completely from the Internet as riots over the lifting of fuel subsidies entered a third day and protesters battled security forces in the capital, Khartoum. Renesys Corp., which maps the pathways of the Internet, said it could not confirm whether the blackout was government-orchestrated.

Senior judge killed in Dagestan: A Supreme Court judge in Russia’s North Caucasus province of Dagestan was shot dead along with his son in the provincial capital, Makhachkala — the second court member to be killed this year in a region beset by an Islamist insurgency and violent crime. Mukhtar Shapiyev was one of 20 judges on the court’s civil bench.

Chinese man handed death penalty in toddler’s death: BEIJING —A Beijing court convicted a man of murder and sentenced him to death for pulling a 2-year-old girl out of a carriage and hurling her to the ground in a dispute with her mother over a parking space. She died days later in a hospital. Her attacker fled the scene, but police caught him the following day. In court, he said he had thought the carriage was a shopping cart.

— From news services