A Lufthansa flight bound for Germany from Texas was diverted to New York City on Monday due to a bomb threat, but a subsequent search of the aircraft found no explosive device, officials said. Flight 441 destined for Frankfurt from Houston landed safely at John F. Kennedy International Airport at about 8:30 pm local time, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The bomb threat was phoned into the airline’s headquarters. But a search of the plane was negative, the authority said on Twitter. Calls to the Port Authority and the New York City Police Department remained unanswered. All passengers had left the airplane and were put up at hotels, Lufthansa spokesman Joerg Waber said yesterday morning in Germany. He neither confirmed nor denied the bomb threat. A passenger who was on the plane, who asked to remain anonymous said the pilot announced two to three hours after takeoff that the flight had to be cancelled and diverted to New York due to a bomb threat.
Macedonia’s opposition refused to acknowledge yesterday the narrow victory of conservatives in parliamentary elections, denouncing “irregularities” for the first time. Sunday’s vote was part of a European Union-brokered deal between Macedonia’s four main political parties after a mass wiretapping scandal erupted in February 2015 and sparked street protests. Late Monday, the electoral commission announced that the VMRO-DPMNE party of longtime ruler Nikola Gruevski would have 51 MPs, two more than the Social Democrats (SDSM), having edged the vote 38.06 percent to 36.69 percent. But the SDSM, who initially claimed victory, said Tuesday that “power has been defeated and citizens have chosen life and change,” citing “a number of irregularities in the pre- and postelection period”. These “influenced the final result of the vote,” the party said. Official poll monitor the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), which had 340 observers, did not speak of irregularities but said there had been problems before the poll.
Israel officials snub Swedish Foreign Minister after row
No Israeli officials will meet Sweden’s Foreign Minister during her trip to the region, a spokesman said yesterday, after she called for a probe into the killings of Palestinian assailants. Erik Wikenstrom, spokesman for Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom said she had wanted to meet both Israeli and Palestinian officials during her visit from Thursday to Saturday. “This time it was not possible to visit Israel,” Wikenstrom said. Asked why there were no meetings planned, he said such questions must be “asked to the Israelis”. Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon blamed “schedule problems” and declined to provide further details. Earlier, Wallstrom told Swedish news agency TT: “I would have gladly seen myself travel to Israel as well, but unfortunately they do not welcome it.” There is no international airport in the Palestinian territories. Wikenstrom declined to comment on whether Wallstrom would fly to an Israeli airport and then travel to the occupied West Bank or go via Jordan.
Opus Dei leader Bishop Echevarria dies at 84
Bishop Javier Echevarria, leader of the controversial Roman Catholic organization Opus Dei, has died after treatment in hospital for a lung infection, according to an official statement posted on Twitter. Echevarria, who was 84, died in Rome on Monday, it said, noting that he had been receiving antibiotics to tackle the infection but it had worsened, resulting in fatal breathing problems. He was born in Madrid and became the third person to lead Opus Dei when in 1994 he succeeded Alvaro Del Portillo-who had taken over from the movement’s founder, Josemaria Escriva. Present in many European countries but also in Latin America, Opus Dei is widely considered a secretive institution with politicians and members of the financial world said to be among its members.
SKOPJE: Supporters of the ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE party celebrate the victory in general elections while driving through a street in Skopje, Macedonia. —AP
Macedonian opposition rejects election result