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Rifle fire crackled over a snowy field in central Estonia, interrupted by the rhythmic thumping of a heavy machine gun. From their position on a ridge, paratroopers from the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade opened up on the opposite tree line, as their comrades below inched toward an imaginary enemy bunker.

The foe in the exercise earlier this month was unnamed. But with the Russian border just 70 miles away, it was clear what kind of scenario was being played out.

A Mediterranean-bound convoy of Russian warships will not be stopping for fuel at a Spanish port, Russia said Wednesday, after Spain's NATO allies objected to the refueling plan.

NATO members are worried the ships are intended to support increased Russian airstrikes in Syria. The convoy includes Russia's only aircraft carrier.

Some ships in the convoy had been planning to stop for fuel in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in North Africa directly across from Gibraltar. It's normal practice for Spain to allow Russian warships to stop at its ports, The Associated Press reports.

Michaek Kerswill / Flickr

History and literature are filled with their antics. From the Renaissance's Triboulet to Shakespeare's Feste from "Twelfth Night," jesters and fools have delighted us for centuries with their subversive humor and quick wit. But while comedy was their brand, there existed hardships for these characters as well.

An experimental lander from the European Space Agency is making its final descent toward Mars, preparing for a controlled landing on Wednesday.

The Schiaparelli probe detached from its mothership, the Trace Gas Orbiter, on Sunday.

There was a moment of alarm when, after separating from the ship, Schiaparelli didn't send the expected signals back to scientists on earth. It did send back a "carrier signal" to show it was operational, but didn't communicate any telemetry data about its status or location.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Bradley Airport put the “International” back into its name Wednesday as a daily flight from Hartford to Ireland gets underway. Irish national carrier Aer Lingus will operate the evening flight to Dublin. 

Aaron Mentele / Flickr

The modern circus has been thrilling audiences for over 250 years, but as times have changed, so has the circus. What began as little more than an equestrian performance has come to include clowns, trapeze artists and even lion tamers.

A year ago, as Germany opened its borders to a surge of migrants and refugees, Chancellor Angela Merkel said,"Wir schaffen das" -- "We can do it." More than a million asylum seekers arrived in Germany last year, and they're eligible to start working after three months.

Top French Court Suspends Riviera Town's Burkini Ban

Aug 26, 2016

France's highest administrative court struck a blow against controversial 'burkini bans' Friday, upending one town's decision to prohibit the full-body swimsuit on its beaches.

The Council of State suspended the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet, just west of Nice, saying it "seriously, and clearly illegally, breached the fundamental freedoms to come and go, the freedom of beliefs and individual freedom."

The Riviera town was one of roughly 30 municipalities to forbid beachgoers from donning the swimsuit often worn by Muslim women, reporter Jake Cigainero tells our Newscast unit.

More than a day after a powerful earthquake struck central Italy, rescue teams are desperately searching for survivors in the rubble of once-charming mountain towns.

At least 241 people died in the disaster, according to civil protection officials, The Associated Press reports. Many of the devastated communities are difficult to reach, and the exact number of missing persons isn't known.

Updated at 12:50 a.m. ET on Thursday:

Officials in Italy say the death toll has risen to 247. The Associated Press quotes the country's civil protection agency, after it announced updated figures about 27 hours after the earthquake struck. Urgent search efforts continue.

Original Post:

Using specialized X-ray imaging, a team of researchers in Australia has revealed a striking painting of a woman's face hidden under French Impressionist Edgar Degas' Portrait of a Woman.

The researchers believe the auburn-haired woman in the hidden work — which they also attribute to Degas — is Emma Dobigny, who was reportedly one of Degas' favorite subjects and modeled for him in 1869 and 1870.

Wikimedia Commons

A new report predicts global mergers and acquisitions may drop by as much as $1.6 trillion over the next five years unless Britain quickly agrees to leave the European Union under terms that give it continued access to the single market.

A Syrian man whose asylum request had been denied by German officials used an explosives-laden backpack to kill himself and wound 12 other people near a concert in southern Germany. Police are still trying to unravel the motives for the 27-year-old's action.

From Berlin, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports:

A shooting at a shopping mall in Munich has left at least 10 people dead, including the alleged attacker, and at least 27 people injured, the Munich police say.

Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae said at a press conference Saturday that the suspect was an 18-year-old German-Iranian man born and raised in Munich, armed with a handgun.

A search of the suspect's home turned up "no evidence" of links to the Islamic State group.

The suspect had no criminal record and his motive is unknown, Andrae said in an earlier press conference.

Turkey's justice minister says that some 6,000 people have been detained following a failed coup attempt.

That includes some 3,000 military personnel detained in bases around the country, as NPR's Leila Fadel tells Weekend Edition Sunday.

According to Turkey's foreign ministry, the incident killed at least 290 people — more than 100 people involved in the attempted coup, and 190 other citizens. At least 1400 people were wounded.

Updated at 10:00 am:

A coup attempt by factions in the Turkish military crumbled Saturday as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made his way to Istanbul and his government began reestablishing control after a long night of widespread violence.

"The people have taken to the streets and voiced their support for democracy," the acting head of the military, Gen. Umit Dundar, said at a news conference Saturday. "The nation will never forget this betrayal."

At a beachside restaurant in Nice, France, Eric Drattell and his wife were relaxing after a fireworks show when a white truck began speeding down the seaside promenade, mowing people down.

"You go from having an absolutely marvelous time to sheer terror in a blink of an eye, literally," he says. "It was a spectacular fireworks show. And then all of a sudden this happens and people are screaming."

Updated 4:00 a.m. ET Friday:

The French interior minister says 84 people have been killed. The four new reported deaths are thought to come from the list of critically injured.

Updated 11:00 p.m. ET Thursday:

A truck drove into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, killing dozens of people on Thursday evening. The French interior minister says 80 people have been killed and 18 are in critical condition.

How's this for British irony: The United Kingdom is about to get a new prime minister, Theresa May, who voted in favor of keeping the country in the European Union.

By voting to leave the EU in a June 23 referendum, U.K. voters turned the country's politics upside down and prompted the immediate resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, a strong backer of remaining in the European body.

Now Cameron's dominant Conservative Party has found a successor, May, the home secretary and a longtime member of Parliament — who also favors staying in the EU.

What gives?

Scotland's Andy Murray won his second Wimbledon title, beating Canadian Milos Raonic in Sunday's final.

Murray was the favorite going into the match, and beat Raonic handily: 6-4 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2).

This makes him the "first British man to win multiple Wimbledon singles titles since Fred Perry in 1935," as the BBC reported.

If she wasn't already one of the best tennis players ever, Serena Williams solidified her case Saturday by winning Wimbledon in straight sets for her 22nd Grand Slam title.

Williams defeated Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 to win her second consecutive and seventh overall Wimbledon title, according to The Associated Press. The two women played against each other in the Australia Open in January, with Kerber taking that win.

But on Saturday, the 34-year-old tennis star celebrated her latest victory by raising two fingers on each hand to symbolize "22."

After seven years, the British have released the findings of inquiry into the Iraq War.

NPR's Lauren Frayer says that the 6,000-page report, the result of an investigation led by retired civil servant John Chilcot, found that Britain rushed to war before all peaceful means were exhausted. Lauren filed this report for our Newscast unit:

Boris Johnson, who was widely considered a top candidate for U.K. prime minister once David Cameron steps down, has announced he will not be seeking the position.

The former mayor of London was a vocal proponent of the Brexit, and is a popular political figure — widely referred to as just "Boris."

He, like Cameron, is a member of the U.K.'s Conservative Party, which controls the British Parliament; the party's members will be choosing Cameron's replacement over the course of this summer.

Daniel Orth / Creative Commons

Michigan is not the only state with a water crisis on its hands. Right now, communities in New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont are grappling with their own water contamination challenges. It’s just that for these states, the problem does not stem from corrosive water or aging lead pipes, but from a toxic chemical known as PFOA. 

fernando butcher / Creative Commons

Europe is Connecticut’s number one trading partner, so the seismic events of last week, as the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, are reverberating here as well. 

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