With AI, jets and police, Paris is securing Olympics — and worrying critics

paris — A year ago, the head of the Paris Olympics boldly declared that France’s capital would be ” the safest place in the world ” when the Games open this Friday. Tony Estanguet’s confident forecast looks less far-fetched now with squadrons of police patrolling Paris’ streets, fighter jets and soldiers primed to scramble, and imposing …

Belarus in talks with Berlin about German man on death row

Warsaw, Poland — Belarus and Germany are holding “consultations” over the fate of a German man reportedly sentenced to death by a court in Minsk last month, Belarus’s foreign ministry said Saturday.  Rico Krieger, 30, was convicted under six articles of Belarus’s criminal code including “terrorism” and “mercenary activity” at a secretive trial held at the …

Azerbaijan’s president vows to help French territories secure independence

SHUSHA, Azerbaijan — Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev pledged Saturday to help France’s overseas territories secure independence, the latest in a series of incidents pitting his ex-Soviet state against Paris over long-running conflicts in the Caucasus region.  Aliyev accuses France of interfering in its affairs over its contacts with Armenia, against which it has waged two wars …

Part of Cyprus mourns, the other rejoices 50 years after split

Nicosia, Cyprus — Greek Cypriots mourned and Turkish Cypriots rejoiced Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of part of the island after a brief Greek inspired coup, with the chances of reconciliation as elusive as ever. The ethnically split island is a persistent source of tension between Greece and Turkey, which are both partners in …

Beleris returns to prison in Albania after European Parliament opening

TIRANA, Albania — A member of Albania’s ethnic Greek minority returned to prison Saturday after a five-day reprieve to attend the opening session of the European Parliament where he was elected to represent Greece’s ruling party. Fredis Beleris, who holds dual Greek-Albanian citizenship, is serving a two-year prison sentence for vote-buying in municipal elections last year …

Airlines resume services after global IT crash wreaks havoc

Paris — Airlines were gradually coming back online Saturday after global carriers, banks and financial institutions were thrown into turmoil by one of the biggest IT crashes in recent years, caused by an update to an antivirus program. Passenger crowds had swelled at airports Friday to wait for news as dozens of flights were canceled and …

EU’s Middle East envoy vows to push for two-state solution

Jerusalem — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stubborn opposition to a Palestinian state does not deter the European Union’s Middle East peace envoy from believing a two-state solution remains achievable. Sven Koopmans, in an interview with AFP, said with the Gaza war ongoing and Israel needing international support, Netanyahu’s government cannot indefinitely disregard European views on …

Russian missile, drone attack kill 2 and hit infrastructure across Ukraine

KYIV, UKRAINE — Russian drones and missiles struck overnight in Ukraine, killing  two civilians and hitting energy facilities and railway infrastructure across the country, officials said on Saturday.  Oleh Syniehubov, regional governor for the Kharkiv region, said Iskander missiles targeted an infrastructure facility in the small town of Barvinkove in the northeast, killing two people and injuring three more.  He gave no …

US reassures Ukraine of American support 

washington — Some top U.S. officials have sought to publicly reassure Ukraine of continued support from Washington, arguing that backing Kyiv in its fight against Russia is in America’s best interest. The United States has provided Ukraine with almost $54 billion in military equipment and other security assistance since Russian forces invaded in February 2022, including …

Paris police seal off Seine River ahead of Olympics

PARIS — A special kind of iron curtain came down across central Paris on Thursday, with the beginning of an Olympic anti-terrorism perimeter along the banks of the River Seine sealing off a kilometers-long area to Parisians and tourists who hadn’t applied in advance for a pass.  The words on many lips were “QR code,” the …

Leader of Belarus marks 30 years in power after crushing dissent

TALLINN, Estonia — For three decades, European leaders have come and gone by the dozens, but Alexander Lukashenko remains in absolute control of Belarus. His longevity is due to a mixture of harshly silencing all dissent, reverting to Soviet-style economic controls and methods and cozying up to Russia, even as he sometimes flirted with the West. …

France’s divided National Assembly keeps centrist speaker 

PARIS — France’s divided National Assembly on Thursday kept a centrist member of President Emmanuel Macron’s party as speaker after a chaotic early election produced a hung legislature.  Speaker Yael Braun-Pivet, 53, has been at the head of the National Assembly since 2022 and she retained her post Thursday after three rounds of voting in the …

Threat to Europe, US will not end with Ukraine, officials warn

washington — Ending the war in Ukraine will likely not be enough to end the threat to Europe or even the United States, in the view of several top European diplomats and the top U.S. general in Europe. The officials, speaking Thursday at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, described the war and their …

US Army honors Nisei combat unit that helped liberate Tuscany in WWII

ROME — The U.S. military is celebrating a little-known part of World War II history, honoring the Japanese-American U.S. Army unit that was key to liberating parts of Italy and France even while the troops’ relatives were interned at home as enemies of the state following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.  Descendants of the second-generation “Nisei” …

France’s newly elected lawmakers begin choosing speaker amid political turmoil

Paris — France’s influential lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, held its opening session Thursday to elect a speaker after chaotic snap elections called by President Emmanuel Macron produced a hung legislature. Parliamentary elections earlier this month resulted in a split between three major political blocs: the New Popular Front leftist coalition, Macron’s centrist allies …