Europe

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The 2016 presidential race has been loaded with rhetoric about a so-called “ISIS caliphate." But what exactly is a caliphate? And what does it mean to say that ISIS has one? This hour, local Islamic scholar Dr. Feryal Salem fills us in. 

Beth Cortez-Neavel / Flickr Creative Commons

When was the last time you sent a letter? Not an email, but a real, tangible piece of mail? If your answer is "not recently," you’re not alone.

Except for the occasional birthday or holiday card, most of us haven’t sent -- or received -- good, old-fashioned snail mail in a very long time. 

Same-sex marriage or civil unions are legal throughout Western Europe, including many traditionally Catholic countries. The last holdout is Italy, where the Senate is about to take up a bill on Thursday that would legalize civil unions — though it would not authorize gay marriage.

Tens of thousands of Italians took to the streets last weekend in some 100 cities demanding legalization of civil unions, including those of gay and lesbian couples.

"Italy, it's time to wake up," they shouted.

At least 10 people are dead and more than a dozen wounded after an explosion struck a historic district in Istanbul on Tuesday morning. Civilians and tourists are among the victims from what officials say was a suicide blast in Sultanahmet Square, site of the famed Blue Mosque.

After the blast, speculation immediately began to fly over who might be responsible. Many fingers pointed at ISIS because of the apparent target — a historic cultural area that's popular with tourists.

Britain's most iconic steam engine roared back to life Friday, after more than a decade of renovation work.

The Flying Scotsman — the first train to reach 100 miles per hour, back in 1934 — was pulled out of service in 1963. Now it's coming back, Reuters reports:

"The venerable engine, which has toured both the United States and Australia since it was retired from service, made a series of short test runs on Friday, ahead of a programme of heritage journeys this year on Britain's main lines.

Pierre Boulez, the French composer and conductor whose career spanned from the avant-garde post-World War II era to the computer age, has died, according to the French culture ministry. He was 90. Boulez famously challenged his peers and his audience to rethink their ideas of sound and harmony.

A series of house raids in Belgium have put six people in custody who are suspected of being involved with a plot to carry out a terrorist attack during New Year's Eve celebrations in Brussels.

The development comes days after police in Brussels arrested two people who were suspected of planning the New Year's Eve attack; despite those arrests, the city has canceled plans for its annual fireworks show.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

A documentary airing Thursday night on CPTV tells the story of American soldiers stationed in Luxembourg during World War II who, without realizing it, helped to create a new holiday tradition. 

In what supporters are calling a historic achievement, 196 nations attending the COP21 climate meetings outside Paris voted to adopt an agreement Saturday that covers both developed and developing countries. Their respective governments will now need to adopt the deal.

Lindsay Zier-Vogel / The Love Lettering Project

When was the last time you sent a letter? Not an email, but a real, tangible piece of mail? If your answer is "not recently," you’re not alone.

Except for the occasional birthday or holiday card, most of us haven’t sent -- or received -- good, old-fashioned snail mail in a very long time. 

Police in London say that are treating a knife attack in the city's subway system as a "terrorist incident."

According to the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command, the man, who is believed to be 29 years old, stabbed three people, one of them, a 56-year-old man, sustained serious injuries.

NPR's Peter Kenyon reports that witnesses said they heard the alleged attacker shout "This is for Syria," as he tried to stab people. Britain recently joined an international coalition bombing Islamic State targets in Syria.

The British Parliament has begun a daylong debate over whether to grant the government authority to conduct airstrikes against ISIS in Syria.

The U.K. is already conducting strikes against ISIS in Iraq.

Most people visit the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scotland for the beautiful scenery or historic castles or maybe the Talisker Distillery.

Not Stephen Brusatte. He goes to Skye for the dinosaurs. And he's pretty jazzed about what he and his team discovered on a recent field trip. "What we found is the biggest dinosaur site that's ever been found in Scotland," he says.

"I actually think we're going to solve this thing."

That's what President Obama said in a news conference just before he left a United Nations summit on climate change.

"Climate change is a massive problem," Obama said. "It is a generational problem. It's a problem that by definition is just about the hardest thing for a political system to absorb, because the effects are gradual, they're diffused. And yet despite all that ... I'm optimistic. I think we're going to solve it."

The Obama administration has announced some changes to the visa waiver program, which allows travelers from some 38 countries including France, Belgium and other European countries, to come to the U.S. without a visa.

The White House announced several steps, including attempting better tracking of past travel, fines for airlines that don't verify passport data, assisting other countries on the screening of refugees and with border security.

Nearly 150 world leaders are gathered near Paris for what is being billed as a last-chance summit to avoid catastrophic climate change.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that this is the biggest diplomatic meeting in France since 1948. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:

France paid homage today to those who died in terrorist attacks in Paris two weeks ago. The names of the 130 people killed were read at a national memorial service at a historic military building in Paris called Les Invalides.

President Francois Hollande delivered a speech, saying France would continue to defend the values for which the victims were killed.

Four days after security levels were raised over a possible terrorist attack, the Belgian capital remains on high alert — but schools, businesses and subway stations are reopening to the public.

Police and soldiers were standing guard as life in Brussels returns to something like normal, reports NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton:

President Obama and French President François Hollande promised to increase cooperation and expand attacks against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

During a joint press conference with Hollande at the White House, Obama said that the United States and France "owe our freedom to each other."

After the Paris attacks, Obama said, "our hearts broke too."

"In that stadium, concert hall, restaurants and cafes we see our own," Obama said. "Today we stand with you."

Brussels will remain in a heightened state of security until at least Monday, the country's prime minister Charles Michel said.

Schools and universities will reopen Wednesday and the subway system will begin reopening on Wednesday too. Still, said Michel, the country is still facing a "serious and imminent" threat.

Since Sunday, authorities have been carrying out raids in an attempt to stop what they suspect is planned Paris-style terrorist attack on Belgium's capital city.

Belgian prosecutors say they have arrested 16 people in raids Sunday night, after the city of Brussels spent the second day in a row on high alert.

Twenty-two raids were mounted, the prosecutors said — most in Brussels, and several south of the city. No explosives or firearms were recovered in the arrests, prosecutors say, and fugitive Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the Paris attacks, was not among those arrested.

Paris Death Toll Continues To Climb

Nov 20, 2015

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told the French Senate that the death toll from last week's massacre in Paris had risen by one, to 130 people. Hundreds were also wounded.

The count does not include any of the attackers who died. Earlier today, the prosecutor's office in Paris confirmed the body of a woman is among three bodies found in the wreckage of Wednesday's police raid of an apartment in the Paris suburb of St. Denis.

The suspected architect of the Paris attacks was killed during a violent police raid conducted by French authorities in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on Wednesday, French authorities say.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud was a Belgian national in his late 20s. Authorities believe that Abaaoud was close to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.

During a press conference, Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve said that Abaaoud was believed to be responsible for planning many of the Islamic State attacks in Europe.

In the wake of the terror attacks in Paris, a group of local Muslim women gathered in Copley Square Wednesday to mourn the victims.

About two dozen women gathered for what organizers called a “silent vigil” near the steps of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. They stood in a line, quietly, carrying red roses and signs with messages like “Love trumps evil,” “Pray for the world” and “Spread hope.”

When the French nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle reaches its position near Syria's coast, it will find what until recently might have seemed an unlikely ally: a Russian guided missile cruiser. A U.S. official says Russia is newly receptive to cooperation in Syria.

A huge and violent police operation in the Saint-Denis suburb of Paris is over. At least two people are dead and eight people were arrested, in an operation that authorities say stopped a terrorist cell that could have attacked again.

According to François Molins, chief prosecutor of France, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who police believe orchestrated the attacks on Paris, may have been in one of the apartments targeted by the raid.

Courtesy Travelers

People who live or work in Hartford may have noticed last night a visible sign of solidarity with the French people after the Paris attacks.

The lights of the Travelers Tower on Grove Street flashed blue, white and red as a mark of respect, after last Friday's terror attacks which claimed the lives of 129 people.

France and England played their friendly match at London's Wembley Stadium as scheduled Tuesday night, with England winning 2-0, but other soccer matches in Europe were canceled over security concerns.

NPR's Newscast reported that in Hanover, Germany, officials citing "concrete information" about a possible terrorist plot canceled the game between Germany and the Netherlands hours before it was supposed to begin and evacuated anyone already in the stadium.

On the final day of national mourning, Paris is still trying to regain a sense of normalcy, after a series of coordinated terrorist attacks Friday left 129 people dead.

It's hard, NPR's David Greene reports. For example, he met 23-year-old Anne Sophie Pratta, who was making her way back to her apartment Monday night.

She said when she got on the train, everyone was looking at each other.

French authorities have zeroed in on two men they believe were responsible for planning and launching the terrorist attacks in Paris that left at least 129 people dead.

Citing two sources close to the investigation in Paris, NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports that officials believe Salim Benghalem, a French national who joined ISIS several years ago, directed Abdelhamid Abaaoud, an ISIS deputy and a Belgian national, to orchestrate Friday's rampage. The two men are believed to be in Syria.

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