Europe at a crossroads as Austria decides whether to vote far right

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AUS161616aa001.jpegAfter months of political jousting, vote recounting and mishaps with ballot envelopes, Austrians will take to the polls on December 4 for the third time this year to choose their next president. And when they do – choosing between the independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen and his opponent Norbert Hofer of the populist, xenophobic, right-wing Freedom Party – the results will not only echo within Austria but could set the tone of Europe's political future.

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern believes the European Union is at its breaking point. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in Vienna, he worried that that the union was failing to resonate with its constituents.

Read more at Occupy.com

Austrian presidential election has echoes of Trump-Clinton clash

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AUS161616aa001.jpegVIENNA — In one of the first electoral tests on the continent since the Brexit and Trump political earthquakes, Austrians are slated to go to the polls Sunday — for the last time, they hope — in a rerun of a presidential election that pits a far-right populist against a left-wing independent.

Regardless of who wins, the president-elect for the first time will not come from either of the country’s two main centrist parties that have dominated the tiny Alpine nation’s politics since the end of World War II, suggesting that Austrian voters — like their American and British counterparts — are sick of their traditional political elites and ready for something radically new.

Read more at The Washington Times

Muslims in Athens prepare for the city's first mosque

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GRC130306AA001.jpegAthens, Greece - Sitting in a cafeteria in her middle-class neighbourhood of Ilioupoli, 43-year-old Anna Stamou says she soon hopes to be praying with her family at the new Athens mosque.

"I'll perform a duaa [prayer] for children caught in war - to make all the wars to stop," says Stamou, a mother-of-two and a PR consultant based in the Greek capital, Athens. "That's what I pray for daily, but in the mosque, prayers are supposed to multiply," adds Stamou, who converted to Islam a few years ago.

Read more at Aljazeera

In the world of Downton Abbey, a post-Brexit call for more independence

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_UK313131AA001.jpegYORK, United Kingdom — The aftershocks from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union — and the rumbles over whether the post-Brexit United Kingdom should remain united — are being felt in the land of Lord Grantham, Lady Mary and Carson the butler.

As British leaders negotiate the messy divorce from the European Union, some in this vast region of Northern England, the setting for the popular and nostalgic television drama “Downton Abbey,” are calling for more independence from Westminster, further complicating a challenging balancing act for Prime Minister Theresa May.


Read more at The Washington Times

In Europe, right-wing parties find voice after Trump’s stunning performance

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA151130aa001.jpegBERLIN — As the initial shock of the outcome of the 2016 U.S. elections wears off and the imminent presidency of Donald Trump becomes a reality, right-wing populist parties across Europe are betting their electoral fortunes are on the rise too.

Mr. Trump’s stunning victory, coming on the heels of Britain’s decision to pull out of the European Union, has sent an electric surge through right-wing political parties and figures across the continent, who argue that after years in the political wilderness, their moment has come. Many of Mr. Trump’s populist themes — a hard line on immigration, a distrust of trade deals, a defense of traditional values and a suspicion of international organizations and international elites — are the same ones that are getting new attention on this side of the Atlantic.

Read more at The Washington Times

Germans bid fond farewell to Obama, leery about Trump

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_USA130629AA003.jpegBERLIN — As the President Obama touches down Wednesday in Berlin for his final official visit, Germans are coming to terms with the end of an era and bracing for what comes next.

Against the backdrop of Donald Trump's shocking victory over Hillary Clinton last week, Obama likely will spend his two days here assuaging concerns that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders have about the incoming president.

Read more at USA Today

Voices: My family knows Greece's problems firsthand

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GRC130215AA001.jpegATHENS — When President Obama stood in the shadows of Acropolis on Tuesday and talked about the crippling impact of austerity measures on Greece, I thought, wow, I could have told you that. After all, my grandparents were collateral damage. And my father is next.

My grandparents' story starts five decades ago — like thousands of Greeks who left the country in the 1950s and '60s to find work after the devastating Greek civil war, my grandparents went to Brazil.

Read more at USA Today

Paris marks first anniversary of terror attacks with somber moment of silence

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130308AA002.jpegPARIS — Parisians commemorated Sunday's one-year anniversary of the deadly attacks on the City of Light with silence in solemn ceremonies, remembering a day many say brutally left its mark.

“It’s obvious we have all changed a little. We are less enthusiastic, less optimistic,” said Celine Lemoigne, 34, a teacher in Paris. She noted there will now always be a before and an after Nov. 13, 2015.

Read more at USA Today

Obama visit doesn't excite many Greeks still coping with an economic crisis

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GRC150716aa003.jpegATHENS — Ioanna-Maria Gertsou will stay home when President Obama arrives in the birthplace of democracy Tuesday to promote democratic values and support for the suffering, debt-ridden country.

After eight years of living with a depressed economy, Greeks such as Gertsou have little faith in the American president’s message of hope. “Greece is not going to get out of this crisis whatever he says,” the 38-year-old child psychologist said.

Read more at USA Today

Alex Tsipras: No tie, no support

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GRC150716aa002.jpegATHENS — When Alexis Tsipras burst into the spotlight in early 2015, he was seen by most in Europe as too young, too radical, and too left. At just 40, he was fresh-faced and irreverent, and already head of Greece’s Syriza party – a motley crew of radical left-wing groups, from ecologists to Trotskyists.

Across Europe, the prospect of a Tsipras win raised the specter of chaos in Athens and a Grexit, with a domino effect in Spain, Portugal, and Italy looming on the horizon. An earlier article in Germany’s Der Spiegel had included Tsipras in a list of the twenty most dangerous politicians for Europe’s unity, along with France’s far-right Marine Le Pen and Italy’s flamboyant Silvio Berlusconi.

Read more at Berlin Policy Journal

Paris one year later: Terror attacks still spark fear

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA14231aa001.jpegPARIS — One year after terrorists struck the City of Light, Parisians plan to memorialize the 130 victims with commemorative plaques, a special concert and a determination to keep fear from destroying their tradition of solidarity.

Memories of the horrific Nov. 13, 2015, attacks are still vivid, and the emotional wounds have yet to heal.

Read more at USA Today

Vladimir Putin, Russians cheer Donald Trump’s victory, see better U.S. relations ahead

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_RUS130621aa001.jpegMOSCOW — Donald Trump’s shock victory in the presidential election Tuesday has sent champagne corks flying around this city, where state media and pro-Kremlin politicians are confidently predicting a dramatic turnaround in Russian-U.S. relations.

Although it’s not clear what he will do when he comes to power, Mr. Trump has alarmed U.S. allies in Eastern Europe by suggesting that he would scale down American commitment to NATO while appearing to say that he could accept the status of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by the Kremlin in 2014.

Read more at The Washington Times

Total global disbelief as Trump is elected president

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_USA160101aa001.jpegBERLIN — America decided and the world made clear it was the wrong decision.

Donald Trump entered the 2016 presidential race as an underdog. His surprise victory over Hillary Clinton prompted foreign observers to say that their worst fears about the contentious U.S. election were realized.

Read more at USA Today

Lingering xenophobia, immigration clashes bad for business in Germany

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130312AA001.jpegBERLIN — Waves of xenophobia and clashes over immigration policy are not only politically explosive in some of Germany’s poorest regions, but they are also bad for business.

A quarter-century after reunification, a large part of the once-communist East Germany still struggles to catch up to the more prosperous west. But now, anti-immigrant sentiment and the success of far-right parties in the face of a flood of Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian refugees pose new threats to the business climate and fears for investors in a region still recovering from Marxist control.

Read more at The Washington Times

Merkel weighs bailout as Deutsche Bank turmoil strains U.S.-Germany relations

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130906aa002.jpegBERLIN — Preparing to face the voters again in 2017, Chancellor Angela Merkel has had to deal with an onslaught of challenges over the past year, from the Greek debt crisis to an upsurge in far-right populism to a rebellion in her own Christian Democratic Party over her open-door policy for Syrian refugees.

But it’s unlikely that Ms. Merkel was expecting a problem on another front, a problem that could damage not only her electoral prospects but Germany’s global image as a model of economic quality, financial conservatism and market efficiency: the soundness and future of the country’s flagship financial institution, Deutsche Bank.

Read more at The Washington Times

Choice between Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton proving just as divisive abroad

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_USA160101aa001.jpegLESBOS, Greece — The same chasm that has divided American voters in this presidential election has opened up abroad too. And while different countries favor different candidates, there’s a widespread disbelief that the contest to run the world’s reigning superpower has come down to the two candidates left in the race.

Many foreigners are critical of Hillary Clinton’s record but still support the Democratic candidate as the better — and safer — choice, while others acknowledge Republican nominee Donald Trump’s shortcomings but find ways to root for the real estate tycoon.

Read more at The Washington Times

Far-right National Front riding anti-establishment wave ahead of French elections

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA151130aa001.jpegPARIS — French voters don’t choose their next president until April, but terrorism, immigration and incumbent President Francois Hollande’s dismal approval ratings are already fueling an anti-establishmentarian wave that is once again helping the far-right, anti-immigrant National Front.

Opinion polls show that National Front party leader Marine Le Pen would win 30 percent of the national vote if elections were held today. That would be a big gain from her tally of 18 percent in the 2012 election, which put Socialist Party standard-bearer Mr. Hollande in the Elysee Palace for the first time.

Read more at The Washington Times

Exposure of Swedish columnist reveals reach of Russia’s propaganda wars

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_RUS140804AA001.jpegSTOCKHOLM, Sweden — Until a few weeks ago, Egor Putilov was a parliamentary aide for the far-right Sweden Democrats Party and a well-known anti-immigrant newspaper columnist who regularly blasted the government for granting asylum to Middle Eastern refugees.

“If nothing is done, Sweden’s lax immigration checks could prove very costly,” Mr. Putilov wrote last year in an op-ed for the Aftonbladet daily newspaper, ominously suggesting that Islamic State terrorists were slipping across Sweden’s supposedly porous borders.

Read more at The Washington Times

This Greek grandmother could win the Nobel Peace Prize

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GRE161616aa001.jpegSKALA SYKAMIAS, Greece — Emilia Kamvysi is not the typical Nobel Peace Prize candidate.

The 86-year-old is not a politician, activist or lawyer. Her days are simple and slow. Like other Greek retirees on the island of Lesbos off the Turkish coast, she cooks for her children and grandchildren, watches the evening news and sits on the bench with her neighbors gazing at the sea.

Read more at USA Today

Kim Kardashian's Paris trauma: What we know

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_KIM161616aa001.jpegPARIS - The charmed life of Kim Kardashian took a disastrous turn late Sunday when she was tied up, threatened with a gun and robbed of an estimated millions in jewelry by armed and masked assailants in Paris where she was attendingParis Fashion Week.

The news rocketed around the world Monday, sending Twitter into a horrified swoon and her husband, Kanye West, rushing from a stage in the middle of a concert in New York to deal with a "family emergency."


Read more at USA Today

Voices: At Oktoberfest, beer mixed with security concerns

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU161616aa001.jpegMUNICH -- Recently, a friend who has lived in Munich for several years told me that she and her friends had pulled off an astounding feat: They were able to secure a table in a tent on Oktoberfest's opening day – without a reservation.

That's usually unheard of, I'm told.

Read more at USA Today

Austrians fed up with endless campaign as misfires force third vote in tight presidential race

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AUS141122aa001.jpegVIENNA — Austrian voters with a global reputation for tidiness and efficiency are losing faith in the electoral process. The culprit? Envelopes that won’t stay closed.

Red-faced election officials have called off Sunday’s planned presidential vote over fears that someone might tamper with absentee ballots whose envelopes lack enough adhesive to seal, raising the risk of tampering and fraud.

Read more at The Washington Times

Clinton or Trump? World viewers weigh in

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_USA160101aa001.jpegThe first presidential debate drew spirited reaction from viewers around the world, especially when the candidates touched on foreign issues.

Hillary Clinton rebuked Donald Trump for his praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and failure to admit he supported the Iraq War. It took barely 10 seconds for Trump to mention Mexico and China. Each doubted the other's ability to thwart the Islamic State.

Read more at USA Today

Italy's campaign for more babies called racist, sexist

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GRC130517aa001.jpegROME — Italy launched a program Thursday aimed at reversing one of the world’s lowest birthrates, but the first “Fertility Day” produced a backlash with charges of sexism, racism and comparisons to wartime dictator Benito Mussolini.

The Ministry of Health campaign focuses on measures to combat sterility, but causing the most uproar was the part encouraging women to think about having children earlier in life.

Read more at USA Today

Obama's half brother is backing Donald Trump

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_USAObama130222AA001.jpegKOGELO, Kenya — In Barack Obama's ancestral home here, excited residents are preparing to go to the polls next month for what has become a tradition every four years since their favorite son became president: a mock election. But not everybody is supporting his choice for a successor.

“I will support Donald Trump because he is a humble and honest guy,” the president's half brother, Malik Obama, told USA TODAY. “He is a guy who can help people. It’s an opportunity for Americans to give Trump a chance to become president."

Read more at USA Today

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