Merkel’s re-election in Germany is all but certain, but world of fourth-term challenges is not

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU121121AA001.jpegBERLIN — Six months ago, it looked like her job might be in jeopardy, but now Chancellor Angela Merkel is cruising to victory in Germany’s Sept. 24 vote and the big question is what Europe’s dominant political leader plans to do with her mandate for a fourth term.

Although the vote is still a few weeks away, the polls — and many German voters — feel that Ms. Merkel already has won the race.

Read more at The Washington Times

With only 30% approval rating, French president takes risk by proposing labor law reforms

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA161616aa005.jpegPARIS — In a risky move, President Emmanuel Macron is seeking a political second wind by taking on the third rail of French politics.

Faced with plummeting polls and a string of public embarrassments just four months after his stunning electoral win, the 39-year-old president is facing a critical early test this month as he rolls out reforms to France’s notoriously rigid labor laws in a bid to reinvigorate the country’s economy.

Read more at The Washington Times

First cathedral for Mother Teresa is consecrated in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Kosovo (RNS) — Twenty years after the death of St. Teresa of Calcutta, thousands of Christians and Muslims came together to celebrate the consecration, in her name, of this nation’s first Roman Catholic cathedral.

St. Teresa Cathedral is also the only one in the world dedicated to the Albanian saint, who spent most of her life working in the slums of India.

Read more at Religion News Service

Muslim backlash usually follows terrorist attacks in European cities — but not here

 BARCELONA — A TV program asked Mustapha Aoulad Sellam to be a guest the day after the deadly Aug. 17 van attack by Muslim terrorists. As he passed through security, the guard looked at Aoulad Sellam's ID and asked if he is Muslim.

“I said yes, and he got up to greet me, holding out his hand and saying, ‘These are going to be hard days for you. You have my support,’ ” said Aoulad Sellam, president of the Spanish group Stop Islamophobic Phenomena. “I was taken aback, then shook his hand warmly.”

Read more at USA Today

Family businesses in Germany find it harder to pass on legacy

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU131804AA001.jpegBERLIN — After graduating from college in his mid-twenties, Armin Pfannenschwarz was expected to return home immediately to run his aging parents’ family business, a midsize firm specializing in the production of wire harnesses for large auto manufacturers. Ten years later he sold the business to pursue a doctorate.

“I had the experience that the company grew, was better and had a lot of success,” said Mr. Pfannenschwarz, now a professor of economics and business administration at the Karlshochschule International University in Karlsruhe. “But I couldn’t say the same for my own life. I came to the conclusion that this isn’t my life at all.”

Read more at The Washington Times

Catalan independence movement feared to worsen divisions in Spain

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SPA170824AA001.jpegBARCELONA, Spain — Police on Monday shot and killed the man believed to have driven the van that mowed down pedestrians along the famed Las Ramblas promenade here last week, bringing an end to a high-stakes dragnet that had put the nation on edge.

But even as Catalonians and Spaniards breathed a sigh of relief, some feared that an upcoming Catalonian independence referendum slated for Oct. 1 would worsen divisions between central government officials in Madrid and Catalan authorities who traditionally have resisted working together.

Read more at The Washington Times

Spain terror attacks: At least 1 American killed

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SPA170825aa001.jpegBARCELONA — The State Department said Friday that at least one American was killed and one was injured in the terrorist attacks in Spain.

The American was identified as Jared Tucker, 42, of Northern California. He and his wife were spending their first wedding anniversary in Europe, according to family members.

Read more at USA Today

Putin’s grants to ‘foreign agents’ signal shift away from hard-line domestic policies

MOSCOW — They are Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favorite motorcycle gang, but the black-clad Night Wolves may soon be struggling for cash after being snubbed in the most recent round of presidential grants, while struggling organizations labeled “foreign agents” by the Kremlin have been approved for funding.

This week’s unexpected outcome of the nationwide bidding for government rubles has sparked a number of interpretations, with some political analysts suggesting it may signal a shift in the hard-line domestic policies that have held sway in the Kremlin under Mr. Putin since Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014.

Read more at The Washington Times

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

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

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

As Kenya's election season kicks off, can anybody stop the violence?


As commuters in the heart of Nairobi hustle past one another on River Road at the end of a recent workday, young men are buying machetes in a hardware shop before boarding a bus. The tools aren’t for clearing brush or making campsites, chopping food or splitting firewood. Peter Mwangi, who runs an electronics shop, is arming himself in case of election chaos. “I know there will be violence. I need to ready myself,” says Mwangi, holding a giant knife. “In the 2007 elections, we were not prepared. We were attacked, and I lost some of my relatives. But this time, it will not happen.”

    Read more at Newsweek

Germany searches all military barracks for Nazi material

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130827AA001.jpegBERLIN — Germany ordered searches of all army barracks for Nazi memorabilia after finding startling pieces amid growing suspicion of extremism within the military.

Two discoveries over the weekend could lead to more Nazi material being found during the searches that will end May 16, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said.

Read more at USA Today

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