Gay U.S. ambassador is a reality TV star in Denmark

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_USAObama130222AA001.jpegCOPENHAGEN — American ambassadors abroad tend to be low-profile diplomats who host cocktail parties and try not to make waves in their host countries. Not here.

Ambassador Rufus Gifford is an A-list celebrity — and even a reality TV star — in this nation of 5.7 million people. On the streets of the capital, the average person knows his name.

Read more at USA Today

Greece: the fishermen of Lesbos saving refugee lives

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR150315aa001.jpegLesbos, Greece - Before sunrise, 45-year-old fisherman Kostas Pinteris launches his small boat eastwards with a plan to drop his nets near the Greece-Turkey border in the Mediterranean.

As he leaves the port, he looks right and left, worried. Just a few hours ago, the attempted coup had kicked off in Turkey. Talk on the island was that the violence could lead to a new surge in refugees embarking for Lesbos.

Read more at Aljazeera

Syrian refugees sent back to peril in hands of Islamic State

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_131108ROMaa001.jpegLESBOS, Greece — Faruk Maliki fled to Europe when the Islamic State group attempted to recruit him in Turkey, where he had sought safety from the civil war in his native Syria. But now he is living in terror once again, fearful of being swept up in the European Union’s agreement with Ankara to deport refugees that could send him back to his violent homeland.

“They’ll send me straight back to ISIS,” said Mr. Maliki, a former oil company technician in his mid-40s from Damascus, Syria, using one of the names by which the terrorist group is known.

Read more at The Washington Times

American brewers hop into Europe's craft-beer heartland

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU161616aa001.jpegBRUSSELS — In a land where the love of local beers is deeply ingrained in the national character, the idea of quaffing imported American suds can leave a bitter taste.

“When you say 'American beers,' I think inferior beers,” said psychologist Bram Mombers-Schepers, quenching his thirst at Cafe Au Laboureur, a popular watering hole whose treats include ales crafted by monks according to centuries-old recipes and cherry-flavored brews that are a summer favorite in the Belgian capital.

Read more at USA Today

Asylum seekers bear brunt of Europe's tilt towards the right wing

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SYR151515aa001.jpegIn a beautiful olive grove dusted with poppies and daisies stands Kamran Kishwer, a 33-year-old father of three from Sargodha in Punjab province. He wears a look of exhaustion and calm as he eats from a plastic cup half filled with rice. There’s a boiled egg on top. Every day, Kishwer and 300 other Pakistani asylum seekers and migrants are provided this meal for lunch by a group of volunteers running Better Days for Moria (BDFM), a makeshift camp providing essential services next to the Moria Registration Camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Kishwer smiles while talking about the volunteers that have helped him and the others, the majority of whom are escaping conflict and extreme poverty. But his uncertain future—especially the lack of information from authorities—has left him in despair.

Read more at Newsweek

Greek Olympians eye glory in Rio despite debt, homelessness and dead swallows in the pool

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Olympic_logo130211AA001.jpegIt was 12 years ago, years before the banking crisis that would trigger the evisceration of its economy, when Greece hosted the 2004 Olympics. Billions of euros were spent to show the world that once impoverished Greece could deliver the greatest show on Earth, in its spiritual birth place.

Success also came inside the stadiums. Sixteen Greek athletes won medals, and Greece was 15th in the medal tallies, creating overnight heroes for a small and proud nation that wanted to shine.

Read more at International Business Times

German online retailers return to brick-and-mortar stores for attract ‘omni-channel’ customers

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU121126AA001.jpegBERLIN — The history of modern retailing runs like this: Mom-and-pop shops fall prey to superstores that, in turn, get squeezed out by the international giants of online commerce.Germany, however, is writing a chapter that is injecting fresh life into main streets and shopping malls around the country.

Struggling to compete with e-commerce global behemoths such as Amazon, Germany’s online retailers are moving back to bricks-and-mortar in order to attract “omni-channel” clients — customers who want to be able to blend the benefits of online browsing with shopping in cool, real-world stores.

Read more at The Washington Times

French officials identify second church attacker

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA14231aa001.jpegFrench officials identified the second man behind the attack that killed an elderly priest and injured three others after seizing hostages at a Catholic church in Normandy as Abdel-Malik Nabil Petitjean.

Petitjean, 19, born in Saint Die des Vosges in eastern France, was identified by DNA testing, the prosecutor’s office said Thursday morning.

Read more at USA Today

Russians fear Pokemon Go a Western plot to destabilize nation from within

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_RUS130621aa001.jpegMOSCOW — From pro-Kremlin politicians to Cossacks, many Russians are convinced that the wildly popular Pokemon Go smartphone app is either a cunning Western plot to destabilize Russia or the spawn of Satan. And quite possibly both.

“There is a feeling that the devil came through this mechanism and is simply trying to destroy us spiritually from within,” Franz Klintsevich, a senior Russian security official, told the state news agency TASS.

Read more at The Washington Times

Terror attacks shake German citizenry anxious about open-door immigration policy

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU150401aa003.jpegBERLIN — Germans are reeling from a spate of violent attacks that have shaken a country already anxious about its open-door refugee policy and fearful that Islamist terrorist attacks like those in neighboring France could take place here, too.

Authorities said Monday that a 27-year-old Syrian man pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before he detonated a bag of explosives outside a music festival in the Bavarian town of Ansbach, killing himself and injuring 15 people on Sunday.

Read more at The Washington Times

ISIL claims two 'soldiers' killed French priest after seizing hostages

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU150401aa003.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 USA Today

308 39 Bomber who blew himself up in Germany pledged allegiance to Islamic State

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU150401aa003.jpegBERLIN — Germany is on edge following a string of attacks by refugees, including a 27-year-old Syrian man who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before blowing himself up outside an open-air music festival in the southern part of the country.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility Monday for the bombing, which left 15 people wounded in Ansbach on Sunday evening.

Read more at USA Today

Shooting in Munich fits a pattern that's all too familiar

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU160606aa001.jpegThe scenario had a nightmarish familiarity: the pop of gunfire, people casting fearful glances back as they fled, a massive police dragnet, heartbreaking appeals on social media for word on the fate of missing loved ones.

But on a continent where the narrative of the last 18 months has veered sharply toward jihadist-linked assaults, this attack in Munich -- a city whose reputation rests largely on beer-loving revelry -- played out in more classically American fashion: a gun rampage by a troubled young man that left nine people dead and 27 hurt.

Read more at the LA Times

Police: At least 9 dead, including gunman, in Munich shooting

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU160606aa001.jpegPolice declared an "acute terrorist situation" Friday in Munich and shut down traffic and rail service in the southern German city after a gunman went on a shooting rampage at a shopping mall, killing at least nine people.

Police said a tenth body was found at the scene of the attack. The body was that of the shooter and he appeared to have acted alone, officials told the Associated Press and Reuters.

Read more at USA Today

Grateful Syrian refugees back Turkey's president

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_TUR130326AA001.jpegISTANBUL — After the failed weekend coup, some of Turkish President Recep Erdogan's most loyal backers aren’t Turks — they're grateful Syrians who flooded across this country’s southern border to escape civil war.

Turkey provides them a safe haven, plus they are envious that Turkey is a democracy — at least so far — in contrast to the dictatorial regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Read more at USA Today

Turkey blames U.S. for coup attempt

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_TUR130607AA006.jpegOn Monday, allegations by government officials and media about U.S. involvement in the coup became so rampant that the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, John Bass, issued a statement denying any truth to the speculation.

“Some news reports — and, unfortunately, some public figures — have speculated that the United States in some way supported the coup attempt,” Bass said in his statement. “This is categorically untrue, and such speculation is harmful to the decades-long friendship between two great nations.”

Read more at USA Today

City of Nice returns to normal while grieving victims

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA010101aa006.jpegNICE, France — People returned to the beaches, filled the cafés and walked along the chic Promenade des Anglais like on any Sunday in this French Riviera tourist mecca. Yet their mood was noticeably somber.

Just three days earlier, 84 people were killed and 200 injured when a truck rammed through a Bastille Day crowd of celebrants. As a reminder that this was not just another carefree weekend in the south of France, a massive makeshift memorial for the victims stood out on the pavement in front of a hotel as tourists and residents passed by.

Read more at USA Today

Failed coup lays bare Turkey's deep political divisions

b_160_0_16777215_00_images_TUR130531001.jpegISTANBUL — Deep political divisions have been emerging here since President Recep Erdogan first rose to power 13 years ago.

Those divisions burst into the open in the wake of the failed coup and Erdogan's arrival here to the cheers of supporters.


Read more at USA Today

Turkey president's backers cheer as critics fear for democracy

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_TUR130607AA006.jpegISTANBUL — Hundreds assembled in the city's main Taksim Square Sunday night to show their support for President Recep Erdoğan, who urged people to come out and display their loyalty a day after his government thwarted a military coup attempt.

"People from all walks of life are here, and we are happy because the coup failed,” said Recep Alpay, 42. “For one week or 10 days we'll be celebrating in the streets."

Read more at USA Today

Muslims in Nice fear backlash after truck rampage by fellow Muslim

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA150111aa001.jpegNICE, France — Fatima Charrihi, a Muslim mother of seven, was the first victim to be struck by the truck on a murderous rampage through a crowd of Bastille Day revelers on Thursday. Several other Muslim residents of this French Riviera tourist spot also perished in the attack by fellow Muslim Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who killed 84 people and injured 200.

Though they suffered losses from the horrific attack by one of their own, many Muslims here fear their entire community will be the target of blame, just as French Muslims were victims of hate crimes following two terror attacks in Paris in January and November 2015.

Read more in USA Today

Turkish president: Backers cheer as critics fear for democracy:

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_TUR130607aa001.jpegISTANBUL — Hundreds assembled in the city's main Taksim Square Sunday night to show their support for President Recep Erdoğan, who urged people to come out and display their loyalty a day after his government thwarted a military coup attempt.

"People from all walks of life are here, and we are happy because the coup failed,” said Recep Alpay, 42. “For one week or 10 days we'll be celebrating in the streets."

Read more at USA Today

In the cafés of Turkey, a beer and unease

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_TUR160606aa003.jpegA few weeks ago, Ozan Vural, 32, sat down at a half-full bar on Istiklal Street, Istanbul’s main pedestrian drag, to smoke a cigarette and nurse a beer – even though it was Ramadan.

Turkish Muslims who are fasting usually avoid eating and drinking in public out of courtesy for the pious during the holy month.

“Now, I find myself not only not giving a damn about it,” he said. “It’s as if drinking in public is an act of resistance, a form of self-expression.”

Read more at The Globe and Mail

France calls up 12K police reserves to beef up security

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA130121AA001.jpegNICE, France — France's interior minister announced a tightening of security measures nationwide Saturday, including the call-up of 12,000 police reserves, "because of the terrorist threat" in the wake of the deadly Bastille Day melee in Nice.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the reserves would beef up the 120,000-strong force of police and soldiers already deployed around the country.

Read more at USA Today

Sleepless in Istanbul: Turks take to street to resist, cheer coup attempt

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_TUR130607aa002.jpegISTANBUL — It was a sleepless night for Turks around the country as they poured into the streets to protest a military coup or watched television to learn if the attempted takeover succeeded in ousting the government of President Recep Erdogan.

Thousands here heeded Erdogan's call to take to the streets, many waving Turkish flags, to resist the coup plotters, who had earlier declared curfews and martial law. Residents reported roads blocked by tanks, military helicopters flying low over the sprawling city and occasional gunfire.

Read more at USA Today

France: 12K police reserves to beef up security

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA130226AA001.jpegNICE, France — France's interior minister announced a tightening of security measures nationwide Saturday, including the call-up of 12,000 police reserves, "because of the terrorist threat" in the wake of the deadly Bastille Day melee in Nice.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the reserves would beef up the 120,000-strong force of police and soldiers already deployed around the country.

Read more at USA Today

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