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While refugees continue to travel through Europe, the continent’s countries are struggling to cope with the influx of people and the result is chaos.
In Croatia — which is part of the European Union and has become the latest route for refugees and migrants coming from war-torn countries in search of a better life in Western Europe — authorities have closed seven of a total of eight border crossings, according to Sky News. On Wednesday, the country had offered itself as a new route for refugees, BuzzFeed News’ Joshua Hersh writes from Croatia, after nearby Hungary closed its border and clashed with refugees.
But, by Thursday afternoon, “reality quickly set in, as the country realized it had become inundated by the human surge,” Hersh writes. At least 14,000 people have crossed the border from Serbia since Wednesday as they continued to enter the country through cornfields.
Meanwhile, European leaders aren’t really talking about how to synchronize their approach to the large number of refugees. “Instead, countries continue to improvise their responses, as Croatia did Thursday, and Slovenia — the next stop along the rerouted trail — is likely to do in coming days,” the New York Times writes. And earlier this morning, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said he would redirect all refugees and migrants to neighbors Hungary and Slovenia.
And a little extra.
Today’s migration crisis is quite different from what Europe has seen before. The current wave of refugees and migrants has been defined as the biggest one since World War II.
“The post-war migrants were largely considered assets and welcomed by much of the public — in stark contrast to the suspicion most migrants flowing across Europe’s borders are greeted with today,” the Associated Press writes.
Today’s migration also differs, because internal conflicts, such as an ongoing Syrian civil war that has left more than 200,000 people dead, are the driving factor rather than one massive world war. As a result, people aren’t displaced just once, but over and over again.
In addition, “the refugee crisis isn’t just a by-product of the brutal civil war in Syria, according to many of those fleeing, as well as Western officials and analysts tracking the conflict,” BuzzFeed News' Mike Giglio and Munzer al-Awad report from Istanbul. President Bashar al-Assad’s forces “work to make opposition-held areas unlivable for rebels and civilians alike — a tactic guaranteed to create masses of refugees,” Giglio and al-Awad write.
There was a secret arms deal behind America’s Syria fiasco.
“At the heart of the high-stakes U.S. program to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight ISIS is a multimillion-dollar arms deal that the Pentagon farmed out to a tiny, little-known private company called Purple Shovel LLC,” BuzzFeed News’ Aram Roston reports. That deal with Purple Shovel led to the death of a U.S. citizen, delays in arming Syrian rebels and the purchase of weapons from a pro-Russia dictatorship — all for a pile of 30-year-old weapons.
And a little extra.
The U.S. violated its own policy and gave Purple Shovel approval to acquire millions of dollars worth of high-tech missiles for rebels from Belarus. Usually, Belarus — which has supplied weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and is accused of human rights violations — is off-limits for American arms dealers.
“The United States government is one of the biggest buyers of AK-47s and other Russian-designed weapons, pouring them into Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war-torn countries,” Roston writes. “The U.S. provides foreign weapons to groups it trains because fighters sometimes prefer them, because they can conceal U.S. links to an operation, and because they are inexpensive.”
In July, Roston reported that the Pentagon and the CIA sometimes use small, untested arms dealers to purchase the weapons.
WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON
The pope is coming to the U.S. next week and his accommodations will be pretty great.
It’s like when parents come to see your first apartment, times a million: Pope Francis is visiting Washington, New York, and Philadelphia next week and church officials are scrambling to make his stay at two Vatican diplomatic quarters and one archbishop’s abode as comfortable as possible. (In case you’re wondering, popes don’t stay in hotels.) Before arriving in the U.S., the pope will travel to Cuba.
“The pope, should he look, will find no dust bunnies beneath the beds he will occupy next week,” the Washington Post writes. “For each hour of comfy pontifical slumber, workers have devoted sleepless hours of burnishing, painting and pillow plumping in three rooms that will soon be eligible for an exclusive plaque with these words: The Pope Slept Here.”
The New York Times has an interactive looking at the $177 million, three-year renovation of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Pope Francis is the fourth pontiff to visit the cathedral.
Republican U.S. presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is polling high and moving in on frontrunner Donald Trump.
We asked BuzzFeed News’ senior national reporter Joel Anderson — who wrote a profile about the candidate in February, “Could running for president destroy Ben Carson’s legacy?” — two quick questions about who Carson is and why he’s suddenly so popular.
Who is Ben Carson and why is he appealing right now?
ANDERSON: He’s appealing now for the reasons that he’s always been appealing, dating back to the days when he used his inspirational life story — the worst student in his fifth grade class in Detroit to a world-renowned brain surgeon — to rise to national prominence.
Ben Carson is an American success story, a rags-to-riches hero who embodied achievement against long odds. It’s possible that every voter might see, or hope to see, a bit of themselves in a man who made something of himself despite being raised in poverty by an illiterate single mother.
Having accounted for his self-determination and intelligence, voters might also be drawn to Carson’s soft-spoken, self-assuredness. He’s neither a blowhard nor a pushover. Whether at political rallies, debates, or the occasional media interview, Carson talks in the manner of a doctor explaining a very serious health problem to a patient.
Maybe, voters think, the retired doctor might be able to cure what ails America.
He's polling right there with Trump, right behind him. Why are the two of them in particular popular right now?
ANDERSON: I’m no political scientist, but it’s easy to imagine that potential voters see the same streak of authenticity in both men.
Neither Trump nor Carson have spent most of their life angling for or aspiring to political office, and therefore haven’t developed a reputation for measuring their words or positions on issues of importance to them.
For Carson, in particular, it can be argued that his political beliefs — many of them covered in his wildly popular books from the 1990s — compelled political operatives to lure him into the race. Among other things, Carson has spoken out against affirmative action, called political correctness “a serious threat,” and was an early critic of Democratic proposals for health care reform. In fact, it was his performance at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013, where he denounced Obamacare mere feet away from the president, that boosted his popularity among conservatives.
So combine that with his previous popularity, and a few campaign stumbles by the other, better-known presidential candidates, and Carson seemed primed to poll well early.
To stay up to date and know exactly what the candidates in the 2016 U.S. presidential election are saying and doing, download the BuzzFeed News app for iOS. Are there other candidates or issues you want to know more about? Let us know and you might see your questions answered!
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?
The FBI arrested a friend and former classmate of accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof.
Joey Meek, 21, was taken into custody yesterday afternoon and it wasn’t immediately clear which charges he will face. In the days following the June shooting, Meek told reporters that Roof had been talking about wanting to start a “race war.”
Roof, 21, is accused of shooting and killing nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June. In the weeks before the shooting, Meek and Roof had reconnected, BuzzFeed News’ Claudia Koerner writes. Meek knew that Roof believed in segregation. During a night of drinking, Roof told his friend he wanted to do “something crazy.”
In a story titled “An American Void,” the Washington Post profiled the Meek family and chronicled Roof’s stay at their trailer in South Carolina.
The U.S. Federal Reserve decided not to increase the cost of borrowing money at its meeting on Thursday, extending a nearly decade-long stretch of low interest rates.
As BuzzFeed News reporter Matt Zetlin notes, the last time the U.S. central bank raised rates "Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” was the number one song in the country.” That was way back in June 2006. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the decision was a close call.
Here’s a handy explainer about why the Federal Reserve did not raise interest rates.
Quick things to know:
A Taliban attack on a Pakistani military base has killed at least 17 people. (BuzzFeed News)
Cuba has appointed a U.S. ambassador for the first time since 1961. (BBC News)
The Greeks are heading to the polls on Sunday, for the third time this year. (BBC News)
Here’s the story of Scotland’s independence referendum, told by the people who led it. (BuzzFeed News) And Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said another vote on their country becoming independent from the rest of the United Kingdom isn’t out of the question. (The Guardian)
FIFA has suspended one of its highest-ranking officials. Jérôme Valcke faces allegations that he profited from ticket sales. (BuzzFeed News)
Republican U.S. presidential candidate and frontrunner Donald Trump said he’d look at getting rid of Muslims in “training camps” if elected. (BuzzFeed News)
While 14-year-old Mohamed Ahmed’s arrest over a homemade clock shocked the nation, the local Muslim community wasn’t too surprised. (BuzzFeed News)
There’s a forgotten project that could have saved America from drought. (BuzzFeed News)
Rich Americans are living longer, while the poor are dying sooner. (BuzzFeed News)
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. approval of the abortion pill. As Congress debates fetal tissues and late-term abortions, 38 states are restricting use of the pills. (BuzzFeed News)
The Emmy Awards are on Sunday. Here are some potential winners. (ABC News)
There are now rainbow colored Doritos. Flavor: equality and cool ranch. (BuzzFeed News) And if you love bacon and looking for a partner who feels the same way, there’s a new app for you. (BuzzFeed News)
Do you know what happened in the news this week? Take the BuzzFeed News quiz!
Our special guest this week is BuzzFeed News reporter David Mack sharing some of his favorite stories recently.
My home country of Australia found itself in the semi-rare position of making global headlines this week, after Tony Abbott was as dumped as prime minister by his governing conservative party in favor of Malcolm Turnbull. The political circus had my colleagues in New York both amused and rather befuddled (which, to be fair, can be said about a lot of bizarre Aussie news that makes waves internationally) but this piece from BuzzFeed Australia's Rob Stott explained in simple, hilarious terms how we've ended up with our fourth leader in three years.
Sorry to bombard you with Australian politics, but this wonderful piece from The New Yorker executive editor Amelia Lester, herself an Aussie, catalogues in excruciatingly embarrassing detail the various gaffes and policy missteps that led to Abbott's downfall. It reads like a political obituary for a man who, it must be said, was truly unique — oh, and who loved to eat raw onions.
I've been haunted all week by this New York Times story by Amy Harmon chronicling one dying woman's bid to have her brain cryogenically frozen in the hope she might one day live again. I can often feel intimidated by science stories, but this piece was electrifyingly well-written and the love story at its heart had me blubbering like a baby.
Look at this little one. Take a peek at how fly those glasses look. And how comfortable this fluffy animal looks in those sweet rollerskates. Doesn’t that make you want to celebrate the weekend right now? Well, after a long week, you deserve to look at 36 adorable dogs. Life can get you down, so let these puppies cheer you up.
This letter was edited and brought to you by Claire Moses and Millie Tran. You can always reach us here.