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German coalition talks: Merkel seeks to break stalemate

A "grand coalition" could be on the cards as a solution to the post-election stalemate.

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The German president is pursuing efforts to broker a coalition deal which might include the centre-left Social Democrats.

The move comes after talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats party, the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens collapsed.

A “grand coalition” between Mrs Merkel’s conservative party and the Social Democrats (SPD) is one option.

Another option is new elections, a path preferred by Mrs Merkel.

The FDP said it would not dismiss the possibility of further talks with Ms Merkel’s conservatives and the Greens on a coalition government if a “completely new package” of proposals was put on the table.

“If it really was possible to build a modern republic in the coming years, then we are the last ones who would refuse to talk. I can’t imagine that this will work,” the Free Democrats’ Secretary General Nicola Beer said to German television station NTV.

Germany has been without a stable government since elections on 24 September produced no overall majority.

This week, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is meeting separately with the leaders of the political parties in order to try to break the stalemate.

Pressure is growing on the SPD to try to form a coalition with Ms Merkel’s party. The SPD has so far refused to enter into a “grand coalition” of the two largest parties in the German parliament.

Andrea Nahles, head of the SPD parliamentary group, said the party did not want to prop up Mrs Merkel again.

“We are not an emergency stop-gap for Merkel,” she said.

Ms Merkel met Mr Steinmeier on Monday.

Facing the biggest crisis of her political career, the chancellor has said she would prefer new elections to an unstable minority government.

The finance minister and chancellery head, Peter Altmaier, has urged the parties to sort out the situation.

“We must be in a situation in the next three weeks where there is clarity about whether there can be a stable government on the basis of this election result,” Mr Altmaier told ZDF television.

Until a government is agreed, Ms Merkel continues as acting chancellor and previous ministers remain in post, while the German parliament sits as normal.

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Chile: Landslide destroys village and kills at least five

A search continues for 15 people missing, after five died in a village in the south of the country.

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A landslide caused by torrential rain has killed at least five people in southern Chile and has destroyed dozens of houses.

Fifteen people are missing in the remote village of Villa Santa Lucía in the country’s lake region, popular with tourists.

President Michelle Bachelet has declared a state of emergency in the area.

Thousands remain without electricity and cut off from the rest of Chile.

“I have ordered rescue workers to put all the resources necessary towards protecting the people of Villa Santa Lucia,” said Ms Bachelet.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Most of the village was destroyed by the landslide

Part of the valley where the village lies, some 1,100km (690 miles) south of the capital, Santiago, was engulfed by a huge amount of mud from surrounding mountains.

Local media reported that the region had experienced unusually heavy rain for the previous 24 hours.

Dozens of people have been airlifted and taken to the neighbouring town of Chaitén.

Rescue teams are searching for survivors.

The village is near Corcovado National Park, popular with tourists for its volcanoes, fjords and forests.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The mud has blocked roads linking the area to the rest of Chile

The mudslide happened on Saturday morning, on the eve of the run-off election to choose Chile’s next president.

The authorities say the vote is going ahead as planned.

Some 14 million Chileans are eligible choose between the centre-right candidate, Sebastián Piñera, and Alejandro Guillier, who is endorsed by Ms Bachelet.

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Anita Hill to chair Hollywood harassment commission

The lawyer will head the group after a series of Hollywood sexual abuse and harassment allegations.

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A special commission to combat sexual harassment in the entertainment and media industries will be chaired by lawyer and academic Anita Hill.

The first meeting of the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace was attended by a wide range of industry giants.

Spearheaded by female executives, including Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy, it will reconvene in 2018.

It comes after a string of allegations made against dozens in Hollywood.

The group was announced on Friday following a meeting convened by Ms Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, Nike co-chair Maria Eitel, lawyer Nina Show and venture capitalist Freada Kapor Klein.

A wide range of industry leaders attended the first meeting, including the chairman of Disney, Warner Brothers, Sony and Universal.

The commission said it will meet in the new year to define its scope and priorities in the wake of weeks of allegations against prominent industry figures, including Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy is one several high-profile women spearheading the group

“The Commission will not seek just one solution, but a comprehensive strategy to address the complex and inter-related causes of the problems of parity and power,” Ms Kennedy said.

‘Unprecedented opportunity’

Anita Hill brought sexual harassment to national prominence in the US in 1991 when she publically testified that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her when he was her boss at the Department for Education and at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

After her private allegations were leaked to the press, she testified publically at a televised investigative committee where her allegations came under attack. He was eventually confirmed in the position, despite her testimony.

Now a professor at Brandeis University in Boston, she said it was “time to end the culture of silence”.

Image copyright VT Image caption Ms Hill brought workplace sexual harassment into the national debate 26 years ago

“I’ve been at this work for 26 years. This moment presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to make real change,” Ms Hill said.

“I’m proud to be leading this newly-formed Commission on a long overdue journey to adopt best practices and to create institutional change that fosters a culture of respect and human dignity throughout the industry,” she said.

“We will be focusing on issues ranging from power disparity, equity and fairness, safety, sexual harassment guidelines, education and training, reporting and enforcement, ongoing research, and data collection,” she added.

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Hunter Harrison: CSX railway boss dies

The US transportation company’s shares fell sharply on Friday after CEO’s medical leave was announced.

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Hunter Harrison, the CEO of the US transportation company CSX, has died just days after going on medical leave.

Mr Harrison, 73, died in Florida due to “unexpectedly severe complications from a recent illness”, the company said.

The company’s shares fell sharply in trading on Friday after Mr Harrison’s leave was announced.

CSX is the third largest railway company in the US, and owns a network connecting every metropolitan area in the eastern US.

CSX said that Jim Foote would continue as acting CEO.

Mr Harrison, who joined CSX in March, had ambitious plans to change CSX.

He had a long career transforming railway companies, with stints at the helm of Illinois Central, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption CSX is best known for its freight operation

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