Trump retweets shine spotlight on fringe British far-right figure

    LONDON — Jayda Fransen couldn’t be more pleased with her newfound fame. “I’m delighted that the leader of the Free World has taken the time to retweet three of my tweets in support of me,” she told The Washington Times.

Few Britons knew much about the 31-year-old deputy leader of Britain First, an anti-Islam, anti-immigration and ultranationalist group with an estimated 1,000 members, before President Trump on Wednesday posted three anti-Muslim videos that originally appeared on Ms. Fransen’s Twitter feed.   

Read more at The Washington Times

In France, there is no minimum age of consent for sex — that may change soon

    PARIS — As a campaign to crack down on sexual harassment intensifies, France is considering doing something long ago adopted in other Western nations: setting a minimum age of consent for having sex.

In recent court cases, judges refused to prosecute men for having sex with minor children because there was no proof of coercion.   

Read more at The Washington Times

Uber-like app for motorcycles eases traffic woes in one of world's most congested cities

    ISTANBUL — The narrow waterway separating the European and Asian sides of this metropolis has inspired classical myths and frustrated invading armies for centuries.

But today drivers traveling over the three bridges spanning the picturesque Bosporus are more likely to experience road rage than nostalgia in a city known as one of the world's most congested for traffic.  

Read more at USA Today

The Dutch learn to welcome refugee students

    THE HAGUE, Netherlands–When Wassim Mahmoud needs help navigating student life in Amsterdam, he turns to Rosa Rietkerk, a Dutch political-science student.

Mahmoud, a 29-year-old Palestinian from Syria, and Rietkerk, 20, met through the Foundation for Refugee Students (known by its Dutch acronym, UAF), a charity that supports refugees in higher education.

Read more at Al Fanar

French women go after sexual abusers with 'out your pig' campaign

    PARIS — In the wake of a growing scandal over sexual harassment in the United States, women in France have increased their complaints about sexual abuse to police, on social media, in street protests and through petitions.

The French Interior Ministry said it has seen a spike in women reporting rape, sexual assault and harassment by almost a third in October compared to October 2016.  

Read more at USA Today

Germany's political crisis: What's next for Angela Merkel, Europe's most powerful nation

    BERLIN — The breakdown of talks to form a government in Germany — Europe's most powerful nation — means that the continent's pillar of economic and political stability is not so stable at the moment.

Chancellor Angela Merkel faced the biggest setback during her 12-year tenure Monday when the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) walked out of talks aimed at forming a governing coalition.    

Read more at USA Today

Merkel’s failure to form German government puts chancellorship in serious doubt

    BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts to form a government fell apart Monday, throwing Europe’s largest economy into a political tailspin and throwing into serious doubt the future of this generation’s most dominant European politician.

Long an anchor of stability in EU affairs, Germany may soon require more national elections just months after the latest vote, as Ms. Merkel’s hopes of cobbling together a new governing coalition collapsed.   

Read more at The Washington Times

Germany Sees Mixed Results in Refugee Education

BERLIN, Germany—Two years after Syrians started coming to Germany by the hundreds of thousands, the nation has had decidedly mixed results in integrating the new arrivals into its educational system. Older children are often shut out of learning anything other than German language and culture during their first year, though younger children who quickly learn the language can join their German peers in the classroom. 

Part of the problem, experts say, stems from the decentralized, ad hoc approach to refugee education in Germany.

Read more at Al Fanar

Italians in shock, tears after stunning loss knocks national soccer team out of World Cup

    ROME — Italians reacted with shock, grief, illness and tears Tuesday, a day after the unthinkable occurred: a loss by the national soccer team that knocked Italy out of the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

“It feels like the pope died,” lamented Sandro Lucchesi, 68, a retired bank clerk who was just 8 the only other time Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup. “Usually, everyone loves to talk about soccer, whether it’s to complain or brag. But this time, all my friends are just hanging their heads.”   

Read more at USA Today

Berlusconi returns to Italian politics — this time as likely kingmaker

    ROME — Bunga bunga is back. Silvio Berlusconi may be best known around the world for his “bunga bunga” sex parties and convictions for corruption that have regularly undermined a career unlike any other in postwar Italian politics.

The last time he held political office, he was forced to resign with the country on the brink of bankruptcy, and, because of a 2013 tax fraud conviction, he is legally barred from running for office again until 2019. He’s clearly not getting the message.   

Read more at The Washington Times

Former Russian ‘it girl’ launches unlikely presidential campaign against Putin

    MOSCOW — Presidential election campaigns here are normally dry, dull and entirely predictable affairs that end with another resounding victory for Vladimir Putin over a handful of hapless, Kremlin-approved “opponents.” Ksenia Sobchak, a onetime Playboy pinup and reality TV star turned government critic, is out to change all that.

Ms. Sobchak, 36, dubbed the “Russian Paris Hilton,” has shaken up Russia’s staid political scene with an unexpected bid for next year’s presidential elections, when Mr. Putin is widely expected to seek another term in office that would keep him in power until 2024.  

Read more at The Washington Times

The man who drove Malcolm X around and introduced him to Fidel Castro

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_CAS171717aa001.jpegOne September evening in 1960 during a United Nations’ summit in New York City, Cuban leader Fidel Castro moved his delegation into Harlem’s historic Hotel Theresa to stay among African Americans: He felt they would welcome him.

That same evening, Luqman Abdul Hakeem drove to the hotel – up Lenox Avenue in his Volkswagen, with Malcolm X at his side. The Cuban flag hung over the building, where crowds of anti and pro-Castro protesters had gathered.


Germans still soul-searching on 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130402AA1.jpegBERLIN — The world’s 900 million-plus Protestants are preparing to commemorate a major milestone next week: the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s protest against the failings of the Catholic Church.

But in Germany, the land of Luther’s birth, the country where his rebellion took root, and a place where divisions over the onetime Augustinian monk’s legacy linger to this day, the quincentennial commemoration has taken on a more complicated significance.  

Read more at The Washington Times

German far-right party finds a rocky road after electoral success

BERLIN — When the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, placed a best-ever third in Germany’s Sept. 24 general election with 12.6 percent of the vote, supporters celebrated how their populist, anti-Islamic rhetoric rang true for many German voters.

But only 24 hours after the AfD’s historic win, the first right-wing party to enter the lower house of the German parliament since the 1950s already seemed headed for disaster.

Read more at The Washington Times

Londoners just got another reason to hate tourists

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_UK171717aa006.jpegLONDON — Commuters on the crowded London Underground are accustomed to the "mind the gap" warnings from overhead speakers as trains pull into station platforms, but they recently got a glimpse of another change that infuriated many.

The world's oldest subway system unveiled a trial last month to help tourists deal with the congested system: green-painted markings at King's Cross station, a major stop, to show where the doors open.

Read more at USA Today

There are about 400,000 refugee kids in Germany. Educating them is a 'national task.'

    In a modest classroom on the outskirts of Berlin, 10 children, most refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, consider a perplexing question: Can goats swim?

Benjamin, a precocious 12-year-old from Iran, pipes up with a confident smile on his face. "Of course they can," he says in German. "There's a lot of goats in Iran — I've seen them swim with my own eyes!"

Read more at PRI

More than 800 injured in Catalonia when Spanish police crack down on independence vote

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SPA171717aa005.jpegBARCELONA — Spanish riot police smashed into polling stations Sunday in the Catalonia region and wounded more than 800 people trying to vote on an independence referendum the government had banned as unconstitutional. 

Violence erupted shortly after polls opened in northeastern Spain's autonomous Catalonia region, with video showing Spanish police firing rubber bullets, using batons and roughing up voters.

Read more at USA Today

Germany's 'Trump country:' Why small towns abandoned mainstream parties for far right

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130621aa001.jpegDORFCHEMNITZ, Germany — Retired farmer Gerd Mazanec normally votes for one of Germany's mainstream parties. But in last Sunday's parliamentary elections, he cast his ballot for the far-right Alternative For Germany (AfD).

Mazanec's complaint: Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democrats and its government partners in Berlin aren't looking out for pensioners like him. Paying more than $3 for a beer on a pension of just $800 a month "simply does not work,” groused Maznec, 62.

Read more at USA Today

How one city plans to steer residents away from driving

    Countries from the UK to China are rolling out extraordinary plans to eliminate fossil-fuel-guzzling automobiles. But one Nordic capital city is mixing tech and urban planning to make sure citizens do not need a car at all.

Finland’s capital Helsinki is growing quickly as it attracts labor from the countryside and overseas. Instead of building more freeways to accommodate the growth, however, officials are trying to make public transit so good that people just give up driving.   

Read more at PRI

Germany's far-right AfD party gains seats in national parliament in major cultural shift

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130827AA001.jpegBERLIN — In a seismic cultural shift, German voters on Sunday elected members of a far-right, nationalist party into parliament for the first time in a half-century.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD), In its first federal election, was headed toward winning about 88 seats in the current 630-member Bundestag and making it the third-largest political force in parliament.

Read more at USA Today

Merkel celebrates fourth-term victory; right-wing nationalists win seats in German parliament

    BERLIN — German voters delivered Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats a fourth consecutive term and the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party a spot in the parliament in Sunday’s federal election, which was widely seen as a referendum on Ms. Merkel’s performance over the past 12 years.

Ms. Merkel’s jubilance over her re-election will be short-lived, as she now must piece together a coalition of widely disparate parties that can propel her Eurocentric, economy-driven mandate — an almost herculean task, given that a far-right nationalist party is entering parliament for the first time since shortly after the end of World War II. 

Read more at The Washington Times

Why is Angela Merkel headed for a fourth term? It's the German economy, stupid!

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130906aa002.jpegBERLIN – Across western democracies, political turmoil reigns as voters oust incumbents and elect new faces to lead them out of international and economic crises. 

Yet, here in Europe's largest and most powerful nation, a less than charismatic Angela Merkel is poised to cruise to re-election Sunday for a record fourth term as chancellor of a unified Germany. 

Read more at USA Today

For many Germans, this election is about refugees

    Cultures converge on Sonnenallee, the main thoroughfare of Berlin’s southeastern borough of Neukölln.

The German capital’s trademark hipsters, wearing black and sporting tattoos and piercings, duck in and out of craft coffee shops and boutique bistros. A few traditional German pubs are scattered along side streets. But the lion's share of restaurants and shops cater to Arab and Turkish clientele.  

Read more at PRI

Aberdeen, known as Scotland's 'Texas,' turns to green energy after oil boom turns to bust

ABERDEEN, Scotland — This northeastern coastal city was a sleepy college town and fishing port until the 1960s, when the discovery of oil in the North Sea triggered an economic boom that earned it the nickname “Scotland’s Texas.”

But a crash in global oil prices sent the economy into a tailspin, forcing this city of 200,000 to transform itself into a powerhouse for green energy to fight climate change and revive its once booming economy.

Read more at USA Today

Kosovo’s deep love and gratitude for America on prominent display throughout country

KERPIMEH, Kosovo — Hasim Haliti begins every morning with a salute to Bill Clinton.

A glass-framed, eight-year-old poster wishing the former president a happy 63rd birthday “from the People of Kosovo” in Albanian and English hangs over his bed.
It may be dated, but Mr. Haliti has no plans to take it down or cull the other pictures of American politicians and military generals from the late 1990s that hang in his little cafe-bar near the village mosque here in northeastern Kosovo.

Read more at The Washington Times

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