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Eiffel Tower shuts down as workers strike over pickpockets

The Eiffel Tower has closed for the day after workers went on strike to protest a surge in the number of aggressive pickpockets at the popular tourist attraction, The Associated Press reports.

Thousands of visitors climb the iconic tower in the centre of Paris every day - but staff say they have noticed a rise in the number of tourists being targeted by petty thieves.

The Eiffel Tower is closed for the day Credit: PA

The company which manages the landmark has said it is working with police to reach a solution to allow it to reopen.

It comes just a day after authorities in the city claimed crime against tourists had dropped this year after they reinforced the police presence on the streets and increased CCTV monitoring.

The attraction is usually open every day of the year, save for the occasional bomb threat.

Ex-Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to be knighted

Former Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is to be given a knighthood, Downing Street has announced.

The Conservative will be made a Knight Bachelor in recognition of his public service as an MP, a former Cabinet minister and his time in local government, No 10 said.

Former Communities Secretary Eric Pickles will be knighted in recognition of his services as an MP. Credit: PA

Mr Pickles, who was first elected to Parliament in 1992, lost his frontbench role following the general election.

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EU and Ukraine sign 1.8bn euro loan deal

The European Union and Ukraine have signed a 1.8 billion euro loan deal in an effort to help revive the country's economy.

EU and Ukrainian officials signed the agreement at the European Partnership Summit in Riga, Latvia. Credit: APTN

It requires Ukraine to adopt a series of reforms including anti-corruption measures to remedy structural problems in its economy.

In the first quarter of 2015, Ukraine's economy contracted by nearly 18 percent from the previous year as the country struggled with the impact of unrest in the industrial heartland of the east.

Judge's tribute to US soldier killed by British bombmaker

A judge has paid tribute to a 'deeply compassionate' American soldier killed by a landmine planted by British bombmaker Anis Sardar.

Sardar, 38, of Llanover Road, Wembley, London, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 35 years in court today after being found guilty of murder and conspiracy to murder.

Sgt First Class Randy Johnson was killed by a landmine built and planted by Anis Sardar Credit: Claudia Williams

One of the IEDs he helped build exploded beneath a US armoured vehicle, killing Sgt First Class Randy Johnson, of 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, who was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals.

Sitting at Woolwich Crown Court, Judge Mr Justice Globe told Sardar that commanding officer Major Eric Adams had described Sgt Johnson as showing "deep compassion" in leading his platoon.

It is therefore the saddest irony that when the eight-wheel Stryker vehicle containing the American soldiers ran over and exploded an IED it was Sgt First Class Johnson who was killed.

He was buried in Arlington Cemetery and his family can be proud that he was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

Sgt First Class Johnson's loss was one of the sad tragedies in what was going on in Iraq in 2007.

By the jury's verdict it is a loss for which you are directly responsible.

– Mr Justice Globe

Judge: Bombmaker saw American soldiers as 'the enemy'

A British bombmaker who fashioned "professionally-made" IEDs which amounted to landmines in Iraq had viewed American soldiers as the "the enemy", a judge has said.

Anis Sardar was sentenced to life in prison Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA

Sitting at London's Woolwich Crown Court, Mr Justice Globe rejected Anis Sardar's claim that he had only been involved once in making bombs to try to protect the Sunni Muslim community from Shia militants.

I am satisfied so as to be sure that your actions were not solely focused on Shia militias. Your focus was either wholly or party American.

I am satisfied that at the material time of the offences you had a mindset that made Americans every bit the enemy as Shia militias. Both were in your contemplation at all times.

– Judge Mr Justice Globe

One of the bombs killed American soldier Sgt Randy Johnson.

Sardar, of Wembley, London, was sentenced to life with a minimum of 38 years for murder, and life with a minimum 25 years for conspiracy to murder, to run concurrently.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrives for Quintinshill memorial service

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has arrived in Gretna Credit: ITV Border

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has arrived at Gretna Green for today's service marking the centenary of the Quintinshill rail disaster.

A parade is currently forming at the memorial cairn ahead of the official commemorative service, which begins at 11am.

A parade is forming for the memorial service Credit: ITV Border

British bombmaker given life in prison

A British bombmaker who helped build an IED which killed a US soldier in Iraq has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 38 years.

Anis Abid Sardar, 38, of Llanover Road, Wembley, London , was found guilty of murder and conspiracy to murder at London's Woolwich Crown Court yesterday.

Anis Abid Sardar

The court heard he, along with an accomplice, built a number of explosives as party of a deadly campaign to kill American troops fighting in the county in 2007.

One of the bombs exploded directly beneath an armoured vehicle, killing 34-year-old Sergeant First Class Randy Johnson, of 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment.

Sardar was finally caught seven years later, after a delicate forensic examination by the FBI's Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Centre discovered his fingerprints on some of the bombs.

His partner has not been found.

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