France's far-right Marine Le Pen hopes no-shows hand her Trump-like upset

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA151226aa001.jpegPARIS — Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen hopes to stage a Donald-Trump-like upset in Sunday's runoff, but her best chance depends on far-left voters boycotting the presidential election.

That could happen because polls show up to a quarter of French voters don't like either of the two candidates and could abstain from voting, which might help her close a sizeable gap her opponent holds in the latest polls.

Read more at USA Today

Trump and Pope Francis to meet after heated clashes during 2016 campaign

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ITA130318XX001.jpegVATICAN CITY — When President Trump meets with Pope Francis here later this month, he'll be face-to face with one of his most high-profile critics.

Though Francis has rarely mentioned Trump by name, he has been critical of the president’s policies — especially on immigration — and has cast doubt on whether he believes Trump is a true Christian.

Read more at USA Today

Pope backs Egypt's moderate Muslims in battle against extremists

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ITA130401AA001.jpegCAIRO — Pope Francis began his two-day trip here on Friday to show solidarity with the country's Muslims who condemn radical Islamic terrorism, saying Egypt has an important role to play in  “vanquishing all violence and terrorism.”

The pontiff said religious leaders were obliged to “expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion, and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous caricatures of God.”

Read more at USA Today

Pope Francis to visit Egypt after terror attack on Christians

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ITA130318XX001.jpegCAIRO — Pope Francis begins a two-day trip to Muslim-majority Egypt on Friday to show solidarity with the country's Coptic Christians following the bombing of two churches that killed 44 people on Palm Sunday.

Francis is also using the visit to recognize efforts by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to allow Christians more equality in the country. He will join Pope Tawadros II, head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, for a conference on how Muslims and Christians can coexist peacefully, an initiative Sisi is pushing.

Read more at USA Today

French voters reject establishment, send Macron and Le Pen to presidential runoff

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA161616aa005.jpegPARIS — The next president of France will either be a photogenic centrist ex-banker who set up his party just a year ago or the leader of a far-right party who wants to close the country’s borders and leave the European Union, according to preliminary election results.

On Sunday, French voters went to the polls and gave independent candidate Emmanuel Macron the lead in the race with 23.90 percent of the vote. Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, came in second with 21.42 percent, with 96 percent of the vote tallied.   

Read more at The Washington Times

As Trump plans British state visit, May looks to remote Scottish Highlands to avoid protests

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SCO140911aa001.jpegLONDON — President Trump hasn’t even confirmed the exact dates for his state visit, but British politicians are already fretting — if not in an outright panic — over how to cope with the politically dicey drop-by, not least because of the protests that are likely to erupt once he arrives.

Enter British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has come up with a plan: She wants to meet the president in the remote Scottish Highlands, where she could not only welcome the leader of the free world with pomp and circumstance worthy of the vaunted “special relationship,” but also keep Mr. Trump away from outbursts that might jeopardize a trade deal she desperately needs because of the U.K.’s divorce from the European Union in two years.

Read more at The Washington Times

Pope's Easter message: Keep the faith in our trying times

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ITA130318XX001.jpegVATICAN CITY — Pope Francis broke with tradition to deliver an Easter homily Sunday that called on people everywhere to cling to faith despite suffering from the violence and intolerance sweeping the world.

The pope usually conducts an Urbu et Orbi blessing — Latin for “To the City and the World” — just after the Easter Mass. But Francis addressed a concern likely on the minds of many Catholics on this religious holiday as they witness what seems like daily images of war, terrorism and famine in every corner of the globe: Why is tragedy so common if Jesus rose from the dead to forgive the sins of the world, the central belief behind Easter?  

Read more at USA Today

Turkey's president claims victory in vote to increase his power

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_TUR130607aa004.jpegISTANBUL — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed a "historic" victory Sunday in a tightly contested national referendum that would radically change his country's system of government and give the president vast, new powers.

With 99% of the ballots counted, Erdogan's referendum had 51.4% "yes" votes, while 48.6% opposed the changes, Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported. Car horns honked and Turks waved flags and rallied in the streets after Erdogan declared victory, but multiple opposition parties alleged voting irregularities and sought a recount.

Read more at USA Today

No dancing on Good Friday? German party-goers rebel

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU131804AA001.jpegBERLIN — Observe Easter or go dancing?

In many parts of tradition-bound Germany, religion is winning out. And for those who like to go club-hopping into the night, it's not a happy holiday.

Read more at USA Today

Is Turkey's referendum a vote for more efficient government, or a power grab?

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_TUR130326AA001.jpegOn April 16, Turkish citizens will vote "yes" or "no" on a referendum that would change the Turkish constitution from a parliamentary to a presidential system. Proponents say it will make the government run more efficiently. Opponents say it’s a power grab. Polls suggest the race is close and many are still undecided.

If the referendum passes, the role of prime minister would be abolished; the multi-party parliament would lose leverage. And President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party or AKP would consolidate power and control. Many Turks see the vote as a referendum on the president himself.

Read more at PRI

Why Turkey's constitutional referendum on Sunday is such a big deal

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_TUR160606aa001.jpegISTANBUL — Sunday's constitutional referendum on granting broad new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has deeply divided Elif Koc's family, like many other Turks. The 18-year-old manicurist said her uncle opposes giving Erdogan so much authority, but she's voting for the change.

"That can lead us to be a better country,” said first-time voter Koc.

Read more at USA Today

Sweden has taken in more migrants per capita of any European nation

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SWE141205aa001.jpegSTOCKHOLM — Swedes are known for their tolerant society, but last week's deadly truck rampage by a frustrated asylum-seeker left many questioning whether the country's open-door policy for refugees swung open too far.

“We’ve taken in more than we can help, and I don’t think that’s OK,” said Anna Lennartsdotter Lindbom, 42, a personal trainer in the Stockholm suburb of Alvsjö. “If we don’t get them to understand how our society works when they have grown up under a different system — that can be a problem."

Read more at USA Today

Stockholm truck attack kills 4; police make arrest

b_160_0_16777215_00_images_SWE130531aa002.jpegSTOCKHOLM — Police arrested one man in connection to the attack that killed at least four people Friday when a large beer truck slammed into an upscale department store in a busy Stockholm pedestrian mall in what Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven called an apparent "terror attack."

The Stockholm city council said another 15 were wounded, nine of them seriously.

Read more at USA Today

On Dimitris Christoulas: 'He is a part of history now'

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130308AA002.jpegAthens, Greece - On the morning of April 4, 2012, a gunshot sounded amid the city's hustle and bustle.

As passers-by rushed to work through Syntagma Square in central Athens, Dimitris Christoulas had taken his life with a shotgun a few metres from the Greek parliament.

The 77-year-old pensioner, a former pharmacist, had left a note in his pocket.

Read more at Aljazeera

Terrorism threat hits home for Putin as Islamic State suspected in deadly St. Petersburg bombing

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_RUS0320aa003.jpegMOSCOW — Terrorism struck at the heart of Russia’s second-biggest city as a shrapnel-filled bomb tore through a subway train in St. Petersburg, killing 11 and wounding dozens more on a day when President Vladimir Putin was in his hometown for meetings.

The bomb exploded while the train was traveling between two stations. Video footage shared on social media showed bodies strewn across a blood-splattered platform and panicked survivors clambering through a gaping hole in a subway car.
Investigators were working to “give a full picture of what happened,” said Mr. Putin, who was born in the city and who later placed a bouquet of roses at the subway station that was hit.

Read more at The Washington Times

Putin’s pull looming over Serbian presidential vote

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_RUS130621aa001.jpegBELGRADE, Serbia — The presidential election here on Sunday is shaping up as yet another case of a European country feeling the persuasive pull of Vladimir Putin.

Although none of the 11 presidential candidates are promoting a specific foreign policy agenda — technically the prime minister sets foreign policy — Russian support and the good will of President Putin are widely seen as vital to those who would lead the Balkan nation.

Read more at The Washington Times

Theft of Canadian gold coin a ‘disaster’ for Berlin’s Bode Museum

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU171717aa001.jpegA world-renowned Berlin museum is reeling from a brazen theft Monday of a 100-kilogram gold coin made in Canada, the biggest heist from a museum in the country since the Second World War.

It’s unlikely the disappearance of the coin, nominally valued at $1-million, but actually worth closer to $5-million given the current price of gold, will pose any financial hardships for the Bode museum – the coin was insured, after all.

Read more at The Globe and Mail

Election in Germany to gauge winds of change

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU161616aa0030.jpegBERLIN — An early tell on Europe’s most important election this year comes this weekend when the first of three German state elections gauges Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political appeal and provides a first real-world electoral test for Martin Schulz, the charismatic new leader of Germany’s resurgent Social Democrats.

Analysts are already saying a big win for the Social Democrats could trigger a waterfall effect, carrying Mr. Schulz to victory in September’s national elections and blocking Ms. Merkel’s hopes for a fourth term as the continent’s dominant political leader.

Read more at The Washington Times

Four dead in vehicle, knife attack at British Parliament

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_UK313131AA001.jpegLONDON — A lone attacker mowed down pedestrians and then stabbed a policeman in the shadow of the British Parliament Wednesday, in what police described as a terrorist strike that left the attacker and at least four others dead and some 40 people injured on nearby Westminster Bridge.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley told reporters that police officer Keith Palmer, 49, three civilians and the attacker had died in the brief but intense incident, which again dramatized the threat terrorism poses to the great cities of Europe.

Read more at The Washington Times

Hanging in the Balance

    b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EU130705aa001.jpegIn March 2016, the EU signed a landmark refugee agreement with Turkey. A year later, the deal’s future looks as bleak as ever. What’s more, Brussels has done too little to address the root causes of the refugee and migration crisis at its doorstep

It was an agreement that the European Union, and Germany in particular, hailed as the key to solving the refugee crisis: the EU would give Turkey a total of 6 billion euros and visa-free travel for its citizens, in return for Ankara blocking refugees or migrants attempting to cross into Greece from its territory.

Read more at Berlin Policy Journal

German businesses concerned as Angela Merkel meets Donald Trump

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130906aa002.jpegPARIS — A bloody day in the heart of the City of Light left some of France’s best-known journalists dead and police tracking down the native Islamist terrorists suspected of carrying out the murders to avenge what they said were insults to the founder of their faith. One suspect surrendered and two others were missing.

The well-coordinated early-morning attack on the editorial offices of the Charlie Hebdo targeted the editor of the bitingly satiric weekly, Stephane Charbonnier, nine colleagues and a security guard, all murdered in cold blood by masked assailants who reportedly called out the names of their victims as they were shot.

Read more at The Washington Times

Incumbent holds off anti-immigrant populist in Dutch elections

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_NED170303aa001.jpegTHE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right party decisively beat back a challenge from anti-immigrant populist candidate Geert Wilders in the nation’s parliamentary elections Wednesday, exit polls showed, in a closely watched vote many saw as a key test of the appeal of Donald Trump-style populism in Western Europe.

With about half the vote counted, Mr. Rutte’s center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) was projected to finish first with 32 seats, while Mr. Wilders‘ nationalist, anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV) significantly trailed in third place with 19 seats in the 150-seat lower house of Parliament. The CDA Christian Democrats were projected to win 20 seats.

Read more at The Washington Times

Simmering discontent in Netherlands gives momentum to ‘Geert Trump’

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_NED170303aa001.jpegTHE HAGUE, Netherlands — Jan Emmerink became a dockworker in Rotterdam in the 1960s when he was just 13. Today he is still working, including on weekends, to supplement the modest pension that supports his family. “Without the extra money we’d starve,” said the 68-year-old from Spijkenisse, a small industrial town.

Mr. Emmerink harbored no doubts about who would receive his vote in Dutch parliamentary elections on Wednesday, a vote that has focused unaccustomed international attention on this small, prosperous, orderly country.

Read more at The Washington Times

Border wall helps secure Turkish city protecting Syrian refugees

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_TUR130621aa001.jpegKILIS, Turkey — Donald Trump isn’t the only one who thinks walls are the answer to an unchecked immigration crisis. In an old neighborhood in this ancient city, stone walls stained with soot lead to narrow alleyways where Syrian refugees make homes in dilapidated buildings.

Before the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, Kilis had a population of 90,000. That number is now 230,000, with Syrians outnumbering Turks. It’s common to hear Arabic on the street. Sweetshops offer Syrian pastries sprinkled with ground pistachio.

Read more at The Washington Times

Sweden resumes draft to prepare for potential conflict with Russia

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SWE161616aa001.jpegSTOCKHOLM — Sebastian von Stedingk was among the last generation of Swedish military conscripts before officials created an all-volunteer force seven years ago. Now, Sweden has reinstituted the draft to prepare for a potential conflict with Russia.
Unlike most other Swedes of his age, Mr. von Stedingk re-enlisted for a second year. He believed military service was a positive force in society.

“In Russia and the U.S., it seems like people are more direct in saying the main point of being called up is about making a contribution to the country and personal progression alongside it,” said Mr. von Stedingk, a 29-year-old physiotherapy student in Stockholm. “In Sweden, military service created a cross-section of society, rich and poor, and made us work together.

Read more at The Washington Times

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