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In Final Push, Merkel Seeks to Reach Undecided German Voters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged her supporters to keep up the momentum in the final hours before Sunday’s national election, urging a last push to try to sway undecided voters.

Merkel is seeking a fourth term in office and her conservative bloc of the Christian Democratic Party and Bavarian-only Christian Social union has a healthy lead in the polls. Surveys in the last week show it leading with between 34 to 37 percent support, followed by the Social Democrats with 21 to 22 percent.

Still, the support has been gradually eroding over the past week. Merkel told supporters in Berlin on Saturday that they needed to keep up their efforts to sway undecided voters, saying “many make their decision in the final hours.”

After handing out coffee and chatting with the campaign workers in Berlin, Merkel headed north to her own riding, walking through the streets of the city of Stralsund shaking hands, posing for photos and signing autographs.

She also campaigned in the northern city of Greifswald and planned a stop as well on the island of Ruegen in the Baltic.

Her main challenger, Social Democrat Martin Schulz, was in western Germany at a rally in the city of Aachen.

At a rally Friday night in Berlin, Schulz urged Germans not to vote for the anti-migrant Alternative for Germany party, known by its German initials AfD, which appears assured of gaining seats in the national parliament for the first time. The nationalist party has 10 to 13 percent support in the polls.

Calling the AfD a “party of agitators” and “the enemies,” Schulz said his Social Democrats were the best option to fight them.

“We will defend democracy in Germany,” he said.

In addition to the AfD, the Greens, the Free Democratic Party and the Left Party were all poised to enter parliament with poll numbers between 8 and 11 percent.

With the numbers so close, several different coalition government combinations could be possible. Merkel on Friday night told supporters in Munich not to be complacent with her bloc’s lead.

“We don’t have a single vote to give away,” she said. “We can’t use any experiments – we need stability and security.”


Students Occupy Barcelona University in Support of Secession

Spanish media report that several hundred students have spent the night inside a Barcelona university to protest the government’s efforts to stop a referendum over Catalonia’s secession from the country.

The protesters have said on social media that pro-independence politicians are expected to give talks at Barcelona University on Saturday.

Jordi Vives, a spokesman for the students, told Catalan public television: “We are showing that as students we have a part to play and that for now we are staying put.”

The remaining students were hold-outs from a group of about 2,000 that gathered in and around the university Friday. Several hundred occupied a central cloister near the offices of the dean and other university managers.

Spain’s Constitutional Court has suspended the Oct. 1 vote while judges assess its legality.


World Leaders Take Stock of Counterterror Fight

While Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs dominated headlines, countering terrorism and extremism took center stage at the U.N. General Assembly this week. Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and top officials from 24 countries highlighted progress made in the fight to defeat the Islamic State militant group in Iraq. VOA Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine has more from Washington.


May: Britain Will ‘Honor Commitments’ as It Exits EU

Britain’s PM says sides share “a profound sense of responsibility” to ensure Brexit goes ‘smoothly and sensibly’


London to End Uber Ride Hailing App Over ‘Security Implications’

Transport officials in London say they will not renew Uber’s license to operate in the city due to “a lack of corporate responsibility” in dealing with the ride hailing app’s safety issues.

The regulatory body Transport for London said in a statement Friday Uber London “is not fit and proper” to operate in the city.

TfL considers that “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications,” the agency said.

Among the issues cited by TfL are Uber’s approach to reporting serious criminal offenses and its use of “greyball” technology, which can be used to block regulators from fully accessing the app.

Uber said the city’s decision to end the app would show the world that “London is closed to innovative companies.”

“By wanting to ban our app from the capital, Transport for London and the mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice,” the company said in a statement.

Uber has said it will appeal the decision.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the city’s taxi drivers union both said they supported the decision not to renew Uber’s license.  

“The mayor has made the right call not to relicense Uber,” Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said.

“We expect Uber will again embark on a spurious legal challenge against the Mayor and TfL, and we will urge the court to uphold this decision. This immoral company has no place on London’s streets.”



Miss Turkey Dethroned Over ‘Unacceptable’ Tweet on Failed Coup

Organizers have stripped Miss Turkey 2017 of her crown over a social media posting that was deemed insulting to the memory of the 250 people killed while opposing last year’s failed military coup.

Miss Turkey organizers said the 18-year-old Itir Esen was dethroned Friday — a day after she won the contest and the right to represent Turkey at the Miss World contest in China — over a tweet they described as “unacceptable.”

Media reports said a flippant remark that the model and university student had posted on Twitter as the country held memorials for the victims on the anniversary of the July 15, 2016, coup attempt, had caused uproar on social media. Esen reportedly denied the account was hers.

Runner-up Asli Sumen will now represent Turkey in China.