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

Mexican mega-billionaire sees world of opportunity in country Trump snubs

b_194_129_16777215_00_images_MEX151515aa001.jpegMEXICO CITY — Long vilified here as a corrupt oligarch, mega-billionaire Carlos Slim in recent months has become an unlikely champion of Mexico.

The telecommunications mogul has emerged as one of President Trump’s most high-profile antagonists south of the border. As Mr. Trump has cracked down on immigration flows, called for a Mexico-financed wall on the border and blamed Mexico for stealing American jobs, Mr. Slim has trashed the wall and said it’s time for his countrymen to chart their economic future without the U.S.

Read more at The Washington Times

These young Egyptians led a revolution. Now their frustrations are mounting under Sisi.

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY130712aa003.jpegMohamed Soliman first witnessed state-imposed repression in Egypt at an anti-government demonstration when he was 12 years old.

“My uncle was a political scientist and a human rights advocate,” said Soliman, 25, who now works with the liberal Al-Dostour (Constitution) Party as a political officer. “The cops came to the peaceful protest with their sticks. They beat my uncle and dragged him through the streets to make an example of him. The idea was to deter future protests.”

Read more at USA Today

Deadly turf war for control of El Chapo's empire erupts in Mexico

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_MEX170303aa001.jpegMEXICO CITY— Gangland-style murders are a daily event in Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa state, where businesses close early, schools suspend classes and residents must take precautions to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.

The extradition of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to the United States in January was supposed to curb the violent drug wars raging south of the border. Instead, rival factions of Guzmán’s organization have ignited a new deadly turf war for control of the drug lord’s rudderless empire.

Read more at USA Today

Missteps throw prospects for German right-wing party in doubt

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130621aa001.jpegBERLIN — For the Alternative for Germany, the right-wing populist party that shot to prominence on the strength of its attacks on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy toward Middle Eastern and other refugees, the upcoming federal elections in September were supposed to be a moment of triumph.

Fresh from the string of electoral successes in state parliaments throughout Germany in the past two years, leaders of the AfD, as the party is known here, until recently hoped to win 15 percent of the votes in the elections, gains that would have made the party one of the strongest voices in the Bundestag behind Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

Read more at The Washington Times

Romanian protesters dig in for long fight against government corruption

 BUCHAREST, Romania — After weeks of protests — the largest here since the fall of communism nearly three decades ago — Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu was forced to scrap a decree that would have made it harder to prosecute some of this poor country’s corrupt politicians. So why, then, haven’t the protesters gone home?

“We are the last line of defense — it is us or them,” said Bogdan Rusanescu, 30, who has remained on the streets of Victoria Square near parliament after the decree was scrapped to remind the government that it has not gone far enough.   

Read more at The Washington Times

New war crimes court may bring Kosovo families justice

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_KOS151515aa001.jpegPRISTINA, Kosovo — When Beriane Mustafa returned home from school 16 years ago, she encountered a crowd outside her apartment and was shocked to learn that her father, a prominent journalist and political adviser, had been assassinated.

Xhemajl Mustafa's death haunts her to this day. “You wake up in the morning with that question mark over your head that says ‘Who did it and why?’” said Mustafa, 35. “That is what, on a daily basis, is killing you.”

Read more at USA Today

First mosque in Athens heightens tensions over Muslims

 ATHENS — Athens‘ Muslims have long made do with living rooms, community centers and basements when seeking out places to pray. But now, the only European capital without an official mosque is about to get one.

The construction has set off both delight and dismay.  

Read more at The Washington Times

Turks push to turn iconic Hagia Sophia back into a mosque

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_HAG131206aa001.jpegATHENS — For eight decades, the iconic Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul has stood as a symbol of Turkey's commitment to a secular society. Now that tradition is under siege by growing calls to convert the historic structure back into a practicing mosque.

The 1,500-year-old structure originally was built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral. It was turned into a mosque in the 15th century after the Ottoman Turks defeated the Greek emperor in Constantinople and renamed the city Istanbul. In the 1930s, the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, turned it into a museum in his drive to create a secular republic on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

Read more at USA Today

German Apprenticeships Get Refugees Back to Work

Noor Hameed made it. The 27-year-old refugee arrived in Germany from Syria in 2014, at the beginning of the European refugee crisis.

Now, after learning German on his own, navigating the country’s notoriously complex bureaucracy and completing a demanding internship, he’s achieved what many would consider a holy grail for asylum seekers: an apprenticeship as a salesperson with Deutsche Telekom.    

Read more at Al Fanar

As other countries eye exit, Iceland debates joining EU

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EUR130204AA001.jpegREYKJAVIK, Iceland — Britain may want out of the exclusive club that is the European Union, and far-right politicians in France and the Netherlands are hoping their countries will soon follow. Even some top Trump administration officials say they have little use for the 28-nation bloc.

But here in Iceland, some powerful voices in the tiny country want in.

Read more at The Washington Times

Germany's Bavaria moves to ban full-face veil

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130906aa002.jpegBERLIN — The German state of Bavaria moved to ban the full-face veil worn by some Muslim women from public places, an initiative that reflects a growing backlash against the flood of migrants admitted into Germany the past two years.

The legislature of the southeastern state, which was a gateway for asylum seekers from southern Europe, passed a bill Tuesday night that would ban the garments — known as a niqab or burqa — on the grounds they prevent communication and endanger public safety.

Read more at USA Today

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