New “Education Passport” Tested in Greece

ATHENS—Masoud Burhani, a 30-year-old Afghan refugee, met with officials at the ministry of education here recently to join an innovative new project supporting higher education for refugees.

He and his wife Fariha Burhani, a 23-year-old midwife, and their two toddlers, were staying in a refugee camp in the port city of Skaramangas. But Burhani wanted to resume his studies in civil engineering and re-establish the normal routines of life that he and his family had lost since fleeing the Taliban in Kabul last year.

Read more at Al Fanar

To undercut Iran, Russians pressure Assad to cut Syria’s longtime ties to Hezbollah

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_RUS130621aa001.jpegISTANBUL — The Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah and the Syrian government have enjoyed a close, fruitful relationship for nearly 40 years. But six years into the Syrian civil war, there are signs that battle fatigue and diverging strategic visions are fraying their alliance.

Syrian President Bashar Assad is coming under increasing pressure from pro-Russian factions in his ruling circle to dump pro-Iranian Hezbollah, as a U.S.-Russia accord to establish a de-escalation zone in southern Syria gets underway this week.

Read more at The Washington Times

Turkey coup: One year later, country bitterly divided as crackdown continues

ISTANBUL — Gonul Acu was stunned when her husband Veli, an aid worker at the United Nations World Food Program, called last week to say authorities arrested him for allegedly being a terrorist spy.

“Veli is a person who has never touched a gun," said Gonul, 31, also an aid worker and five months pregnant. "He is not a terrorist. He is not aiding anyone. He has simply worked for human rights.”

Read more at USA Today

Paris puts on a dazzling Bastille Day display for President Trump

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA130226AA001.jpegPARIS — France put on a dazzling Bastille Day display for President Trump on Friday, an occasion that marked both the founding of French democracy and the centennial of the United States' entry into World War I.

The colorful parade along the French capital’s famous Champs-Élysées included U.S. soldiers marching with their French counterparts.

Read more at USA Today

Here's one Trump the French like (Hint: not Donald)

PARIS — Many Parisians who thumb their noses at President Trump during his visit here are giving a thumbs up to first lady Melania Trump for her grace and oh-so-French style. 

"We don't know so much about her," said Vero Baumice, a retired grandmother strolling with friends in central Paris, "but she is elegant."

Read more at USA Today

Bastille Day in Nice, France: More anguish than celebration

 NICE, France — While most of France celebrates Bastille Day on Friday, Emilie Petitjean will mourn the death of her 10-year old son, Romain, one of 86 victims in last year's truck rampage through a holiday crowd on this French Riviera resort.

“The approach of July 14 is bringing back nightmares and anguished feelings that I thought I had overcome,” Petitjean said. “For those who have lost family members, there are scars that will never be healed.”

Read more at USA Today

Parisians turn up their noses on Trump visit


PARIS — Parisians are greeting President Trump's visit Thursday for Bastille Day celebrations in the way the French do best: total disdain.

"Pfff — he should just go to Pittsburgh," student Marie Billoteau, 24, said, harking to Trump's explanation June 1 for withdrawing from the Paris climate change agreement: "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” 

Read more at USA Today

Turks grow increasingly restive over Erdogan’s crackdowns in year after coup attempt

ISTANBUL — It was on July 15, 2016 — a year ago Saturday — that rogue military units sought to overthrow the Turkish government in a bloody coup d’etat that left 250 dead and thousands more injured.

One year later, Turkey, a NATO member and a keystone of security in one of the world’s most unstable regions, remains entrenched in a state of emergency that grants its president the power to arrest suspected plotters en masse, crack down on dissenters and journalists who “insult” the government and unilaterally issue decrees without parliamentary approval.

Read more at The Washington Times

Two years after the bailout, life in Greece has gotten more miserable

 ATHENS — Two years after an international bailout that was supposed to lead to an economic revival, conditions here have only worsened and life for Greeks has become one of constant misery. 

The economy is stagnant, unemployment hovers around 25% and is twice as high for young adults, taxes are rising, and wages are falling. Half of Greek homeowners can’t make their mortgage payments and another quarter can’t afford their property taxes, according to the Bank of Greece.

Read more at USA Today

Lacking its own ‘disruptive’ innovations, EU lashes out with Silicon Valley regulations


BERLIN — Silicon Valley’s tech giants are routinely lauded at home for their “disruptive” innovations. But in the European Union, they could be entering a period of increased scrutiny — and heavy penalties — from regulators in Brussels for those same acts of disruption.

In a case that turned heads on both sides of the Atlantic, the European Commission — the EU’s executive arm — on Tuesday slapped Google with a record $2.7 billion fine for abusing its dominance of the market for its own shopping offerings in online search results. The company has said it is weighing an appeal, but Google is facing two other high-profile EU investigations into suspected monopolistic practices in its Android mobile operating system and its AdSense ad system.

Read more at The Washington Times

German lawmakers vote to legalize same-sex marriage

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_USA171819aa001.jpegBERLIN — Ulli Köppe didn't realize he would change history with a simple question this week to German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Why can't he marry the man he loves? Her answer at a public forum surprised everyone: He can.

Merkel's about-face after years of opposing same-sex marriage freed members of her conservative Christian Democrats party to vote their "conscience" instead of toeing the party's hard-line stance on the issue.   

Read more at USA Today

A progressive German mosque draws condemnation at home and abroad


BERLIN (RNS) The Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque opened its doors less than two weeks ago. But it’s already fielding death threats and heaps of hate mail from Muslims and others in Germany and abroad.

“Of course, we’re scared,” said the mosque’s co-founder, Islamic scholar Abdel-Hakim Ourghi. “But we won’t allow ourselves to give up. We live in the West and cannot be any other way.”   

Read more at Religion News Service

Romania: Haven for hackers turned cyber sleuths

BUCHAREST, Romania — Razvan Cernaianu once surfed the Internet anonymously and easily broke into the computer systems for NASA, the Pentagon and Oracle.

Then he became part of a legion of hackers that turned Romania into a center of international cyber fraud investigators.

Read more at USA Today

Refugees in Sweden adjust to anti-migrant sentiment and tougher asylum laws

Mushtaq Kht arrived in Sweden 18 months ago after fleeing the Taliban in his native Afghanistan. Like thousands of others, he came to Sweden after hearing it was a welcoming place for refugees.

“I couldn’t stay in Afghanistan," 17-year-old Kht said in fluent Swedish, which he learned while in the country. "They would come and take the boys away and force you to be a Talib.”

Read more at PRI

Some refugees in Serbia fear government help would limit freedom


BELGRADE, Serbia — In recent months, Serbian authorities have tried to provide shelter, food and medical care to thousands of refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa camping within its borders.

But the newcomers don't want any of it.


Read more at USA Today

Persistent Putin foe Alexei Navalny is arrested after whipping up nationwide protests on Russia Day

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_RUS140804AA001.jpeg M

MOSCOW — He has emerged as Vladimir Putin’s worst nightmare, and his refusal to just go away earned opposition leader Alexei Navalny yet another trip to the jailhouse Monday.

In one of the bigger challenges to the Russian president’s increasingly authoritarian rule, more than 1,000 protesters were arrested across the nation after defying police bans on rallying against Mr. Putin’s long rule and demanding an end to high-level corruption.

Read more at The Washington Times

French President Emmanuel Macron on course to dominate Parliament

  PARIS — French voters appeared to give their new president a clear mandate to implement far-reaching changes with Sunday's first round of parliamentary elections, as his party won a crushing victory over France’s two establishment parties.

With 94% of the votes counted, President Emmanuel Macron's year-old Republic on the Move! party won 28%. The conservative Republicans had 16%, followed by the far-right National Front with 14%. The far-left party of Jean-Luc Melenchon had 11%, while the Socialists, who dominated the last National Assembly, had just 7%.

Read more at USA Today

Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche set for French election wins

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA161616aa005.jpegPARIS | He has already defied France’s traditional political parties to claim the presidency, and now Emmanuel Macron’s upstart, center-right political party En Marche is expected run up a massive victory in parliamentary elections that begin on Sunday, giving the 39-year-old political newcomer a de Gaulle-sized mandate to pursue reforms to shake the country’s sclerotic economy.

Polls say Mr. Macron’s candidates will easily surpass the 289 seats needed for a majority and could be on track to lead one of the biggest parliamentary majorities of the post-World War II era.

Read more at The Washington Times

Another British terrorist attack puts Theresa May’s snap election rout in further jeopardy


LONDON — As British voters prepare to head to the polls on Thursday, an election that was supposed to be a cakewalk for Prime Minister Theresa May and her Tories has turned into a slog across a political minefield.

The prime minister called the surprise snap election in April in hopes of beefing up the Conservative Party’s slender majority in parliament, burnishing her credentials as a strong leader and giving her more leverage ahead of tough negotiations on leaving the European Union. A bonus: An overwhelming win would deal a crushing blow to the reeling Labor Party opposition and its beleaguered leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Read more at The Washington Times

Animosity toward Diana’s rival cools as Charles nears the British throne

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GBR130322AA001.jpegLONDON — Since Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip, announced in early May that he will retire from royal duties in the fall, Britons are beginning to accept who’s in line to come next: There may well be a King Charles — and likely a Queen Camilla.

Britain and the 15 other countries, including Australia and Canada, are never without a monarch. The very moment that 91-year-old Queen Elizabeth dies, Prince Charles will assume the throne. So, too, will his wife, Camilla Parker Bowles.

Read more at The Washington Times

G-7 summit protesters rail against immigration, capitalism as leaders fly overhead

GIARDINI NAXOS, Sicily – As the Group of Seven summit wrapped up Saturday, thousands demonstrated in the streets, rallying around dozens of issues from immigration to capitalism and everything in between.

Protesters likely numbered more than the up to 5,000 expected for the march, police said, a large amount for the 9,000-resident seaside resort community of Giardini Naxos adjacent to Taormina, the cliff-side town that hosted the gathering of world leaders. Helicopters shuttling the leaders from Taormina flew overhead as the demonstrations took place.

Read more at USA Today

Obama sends Trump clear message: 'We can't hide behind a wall'


BERLIN — Former president Barack Obama on Thursday took his successor to task for wanting to build a wall along the Mexican border, delivering a sharp attack while President Trump was a mere 500 miles away in Brussels.

"In this new world we live in, we can’t isolate ourselves — we can’t hide behind a wall,” Obama said before 70,000 cheering spectators at the iconic Brandenburg Gate, where he joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Read more at USA Today

Right-wing German politician gains widespread support in fight against TV, radio tax

BERLIN — The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party might best be known for its vocal opposition to the refugees that have flooded into the country and their disdain for the euro. But the party’s deputy chairwoman, Beatrix von Storch, also rails against the country’s decades-old mandatory public broadcasting tax that German households and businesses must pay even if they don’t own a radio or TV.

“Resistance to the forced payment for television is a core issue of the party,” said Ms. von Storch, who refuses to pay the contribution of roughly $20 per month that underwrites Germany’s three major public television and radio broadcasters and their dozens of affiliates.   

Read more at The Washington Times

Community and individual support vital to healing from trauma of terrorism


British families and communities rocked by Monday night’s bombing in Manchester now face an increasingly familiar reality: dealing with the aftermath of terrorism.

“This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face in Greater Manchester and one that we all hoped we would never see,” Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said in a statement. “We have a long history in Greater Manchester of communities standing together during difficult times. In the coming days we will be working closely with community leaders to address any issues.”  

Read more at The Washington Times

Feeling the "Pulse of Europe," tens of thousands protest to save EU


BERLIN – As French citizens headed to the polls on May 7 to cast their votes for president, tens of thousands of Europeans across the continent gathered in grand historic squares, quaint piazzas and cobblestone streets to send their French compatriots a clear message: “Let's stay together.”

For many of the demonstrators, who came together as part of an ongoing pan-European citizens initiative called Pulse of Europe, the face-off between France's far-right, ultranationalist Marine Le Pen and the Europhile centrist Emmanuel Macron was a moment of truth for the pro-E.U. protests they had been staging for months.



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