Tire truck on fire in European tunnel
CHAMBERY, France, June 4 (UPI) -- A truck hauling tires burst into flames Saturday while traveling in an eight-mile tunnel between Italy and France.
Emergency services personnel have entered the tunnel, however, Italian rescuers were held by the fire's intense heat, according to a French report.
There have been no reports of injuries, however, it has been reported that vehicles are trapped inside the tunnel, the BBC reported.
Ky. diocese to pay $120 to abuse victims
COVINGTON, Ky., June 4 (UPI) -- The Covington Diocese in Kentucky said it has agreed to pay up to $120 million to more than 100 alleged victims of child molestation from the last 50 years.
The settlement, which must be approved by the Boone County Circuit Court, was announced Friday and followed more than a year of negotiations after a class-action suit was filed against the diocese in 2003, reported the Los Angeles Times Saturday.
"After personally meeting with more than 70 victims, I am painfully aware that no amount of money can compensate for the harm these victims suffered as innocent children," the Most Rev. Roger Foys said in a statement.
Foys, bishop of the 14-county diocese since July 2002, apologized to those who reported abuse and "were not treated with respect and courtesy when they came forth."
Payouts would range from $5,000 to $450,000 per victim, after lawyer fees.
Two-thirds of the funds would be paid by insurance carriers and the diocese would sell church real estate, including its retreat center, and other investments to raise the remaining $40 million, according to diocesan officials.
German parties would boost U.S. ties
BERLIN, June 4 (UPI) -- Germany's Christian Democrats and their Free Democratic partners say they would boost U.S. relations and downgrade Russian ties, should they win election.
"We have great interest in close relations with Russia, but they have to be balanced and should in no way be directed against the Atlantic partnership," said Wolfgang Schaeuble, deputy chairman of the Christian Democratic Union. "We would change this nonsense and re-establish the balance in German-Russian relations."
Guido Westerwelle, chairman of the Free Democratic Party, the conservative Christian Democrats junior partner, said Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a Social Democrat, undermined U.S. ties and criticized Washington more often than Moscow, reported the Washington Times Saturday.
"It is not acceptable that the German government is often very critical of Washington -- sometimes rightfully so -- but stays silent on Russian violations of legal matters," he said.
German officials denied Schroeder had become close with Russia's Vladimir Putin at the expense of U.S. President George Bush. Government officials said the chancellor had been working well with Bush since healing the rift over the war in Iraq.
Sudan says U.S. stance changed
KHARTOUM, Sudan, June 4 (UPI) -- Sudanese President Omar Bashir said Saturday there was a "positive change" in the U.S. position on the troubled Darfur region.
Bashir said on state-owned Um Durman TV the U.S. "shift confirms substantial improvement in the Darfur situation.
Bashir's comments came as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick met with Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail in Khartoum on Darfur, the peace process in southern Sudan and bilateral relations.
Ismail told reporters that Zoellick told him there was "improvement of conditions in Darfur" after the American envoy visited the region Friday.
He said the two agreed for a Sudanese government delegation to visit Washington soon to discuss bilateral relations in more detail in order to restore relations between the two countries.