Joanna Kakissis

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

Fire officials in Greece say at least 74 people have died from surprisingly fast-moving wildfires that struck near Athens on Monday, with the death toll tripling in what has become a national tragedy. The fires have sent people scrambling to escape and have put intense pressure on fire and rescue agencies.

Updated at 5:35 p.m. ET Sunday

The last time Matthew Caruana Galizia saw his mother alive, she was going to the bank.

A government minister had gotten the courts to freeze her bank accounts. She intended to fight for access to her funds.

"If someone tried to shut her up, if someone tried to stop her, she'd just fight back even harder," the son says. "That was her spirit."

Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery sits on a hilltop in Malta, a tiny island nation of sand-hued fortresses in the Mediterranean Sea between Italy and North Africa.

Birds perch on elaborate Roman Catholic crypts and tombstones chiseled with the names of loved ones — John, Ariadne, Carmello, Ouzeppa.

Our series "Take A Number" looks at problems around the world — and the people trying to solve them — through the lens of a single number. Today's number: 10 — that's the percentage of Hungarians who feel "totally comfortable" having an immigrant as a friend.

Every day at noon, Ibrar Hussein Mirzai hears the cathedral bells as he leaves his intensive Hungarian-language class in the small, leafy town of Fót, just north of Hungary's capital Budapest.

In April 1968, the United States was grieving. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a white nationalist. Cities burned with riots.

Across the Atlantic, Britain was debating the Race Relations Act, which made it illegal to deny a person employment, housing or public services based on race or national origin.

Eighteen-year-old Israel "Izzy" Ogunsola loved soccer and studied computer programming. On Wednesday, he cycled away from his home in Hackney, northeast London. At 8 p.m., he was stabbed. He staggered toward police officers but bled to death near a railway bridge as the police, paramedics and a trauma doctor tried to save him.

Police later arrested two 17-year-old boys on suspicion of murder.

Sana and Violetta, both middle-aged moms with grown children, spend their days embroidering traditional Albanian shirts and scarves.

Under the buzzy flicker of malfunctioning fluorescent lights, they stitch in the drafty classrooms at the Center for Promotion of Women's Rights in the Drenas municipality in central Kosovo.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Today, British Prime Minister Theresa May ordered the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the UK. This is in response to the poisoning of a Russian double agent and his daughter in western England.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Rasha al-Ahmed imagined Europe would be a clean, generous place — not a makeshift tent in an olive grove where the mud is mixed with human waste and rotting food.

"A safe life with a house and enough food," she said, shuddering as she wiped fetid mud from her 1-year-old daughter's cheeks. "That's what I hoped for when I crossed the sea from Turkey to Greece."

Hysni Rexha, a cheerful 51-year-old farmer in western Kosovo, loves the United States unconditionally.

"Because of America, my country exists," he declares, walking through what he calls his "wildlife garden" of caged peacocks, doves, exotic chickens and a sad hawk.

"So when Donald Trump was elected America's president, I named my favorite wolf after him."

The wolf is one of four Rexha says he found as puppies and domesticated.

To an outsider, this most Balkan of conflicts looks absurd: two countries fighting over a name and a historical icon who lived 25 centuries ago.

But the 26-year-old dispute between two southeastern European neighbors — Greece and Macedonia, over who owns the name "Macedonia" — is seen by both sides as existential and essential to national identity.

Greece, which prizes its ancient history above everything else, is especially sensitive.

Abdul Kadr's wife found out he was gay the night his relatives came to kill him.

She hid him inside the home in Grozny, Chechnya, where they lived with their four young children, and told him she'd stand by him.

"She saved my life," says Abdul Kadr, a silver-haired former businessman in his 40s.

Being married to a woman was how he hid his eight-year relationship with another man, also a married father. It was a way to survive in Chechnya, a largely Muslim southwestern republic of Russia where gay men are reportedly sent to torture camps and even killed.

Sumeyye Nur and her elderly parents were driving outside Izmir, Turkey, last summer when two plainclothes policemen pulled them over, demanding to know why her 75-year-old father owned a nice car.

It was no ordinary stop. It was part of a sprawling government crackdown on tens of thousands of Turks after last year's failed military coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Along the southwestern coast of the Netherlands, not far from The Hague, kite surfers glide on the waves around a huge sand peninsula where beachcombers photograph seagulls.

But the peninsula is more than just a recreation spot. It's also an experiment in coastal management: It keeps the sea away from nearby cities.

The Dutch call it "De Zandmotor" — the Sand Motor, also known as the Sand Engine.

France's busiest port, Boulougne-sur-Mer, sits just across the English Channel from Britain, in the Calais region.

Seagulls glide above scores of brightly painted boats docking to unload the catch of the day — mainly sole but also cod, roussette, crab and scallops.

It's all sold at a bustling seaside market where Marie-Laure Fontaine sells seafood from a fishing boat called Providence.

Maggie and Bea Ordever left their home in southeastern England last October, a few months after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

"We'd made the plan before Brexit came along," says Maggie, 67, who worked in the hospitality industry. "We didn't want to choose Spain or Italy because we wanted an easy route back for family. And we fell in love with Brittany."

The Celtic-influenced region of Brittany, in western France, felt like home to Bea, 54, a design engineer.

Marlene Schiappa was barely into her teens when she realized that Paris, the City of Light, could be a dark place for women.

Whenever she and her sister walked anywhere — to school, to the supermarket, to hang out with friends — men followed them, catcalling, harassing, even groping.

"We took alternative routes, out of our way," she says, "to avoid the bands of boys."

It's a hot summer day, and 8-year-old Zak Ballenger and his 5-year-old sister, Alison, are doing something they've never done in Paris.

They're diving into the cold, murky waters of a city canal.

"I like splashing around," Zak says, "because it's hot outside."

His mom, Celina Ballenger, is a 38-year-old nurse. She says she couldn't afford a vacation this year.

"So we've come here because we can't go out of Paris," she says.

Samir Hussain's life changed in 2015, just after he and a friend left a movie theater in Crawley, a town south of London.

A gang of strangers, all men, had harassed them during the show and tried to start a fight outside Hussain's car.

He noticed that one of the men held what looked like a bottle of water in his hand, wrapped in a sweater. The man splashed it on Hussain.

The sea winds of Greece are legendary.

The strong, dry north Etesian winds, also known as the meltemia, blow on the Aegean Sea from May to September.

Then there are the fierce main winds, which blew mighty waves towards Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey. "Then were the knees of Odysseus loosened and his heart melted, and deeply moved he spoke to his own mighty spirit: 'Ah me, wretched that I am! What is to befall me at the last?'"

Odysseus may have seen the winds as a curse. But on the island of Tilos, they're a blessing.

Slobodan Simic hardly looks like a donkey farmer. A 62-year-old lawyer and former lawmaker in the Serbian parliament, he's in dark glasses, chomping on a tobacco pipe.

"Jesus rode to Jerusalem on a donkey," he says. "They're special creatures, and that's why everyone in Europe used to have one. Ours was the Balkan donkey, and I want to preserve it."

The hamlet of Sevnica, population 5,000, sits right in the middle of the small, alpine nation of Slovenia, in a green valley along the Sava River, surrounded by pine-forested hills.

"It's really an amazing climate," chirps Lidija Ogorevc, a cheerleader-peppy tour guide here. "You should try our wine, our salami."

She stops in front of a fenced-in building — not unattractive, but clearly closed.

"A cultural monument," she declares.

With his coiffed, salt-and-pepper hair and stoic demeanor, Francois Fillon looks like a president out of central casting. The 63-year-old conservative, a former prime minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, is even serious and prim at his campaign rallies, where his passionate supporters clap and chant his name.

"I'm not asking you to like me, but to support me," he told one crowd at an April 9 rally. "We're not choosing a buddy. We're choosing a president."

Fillon is also a practicing Catholic, and the only presidential candidate who speaks openly about his faith.

The tiny Balkan country of Montenegro may be best known for its stunning coastline on the Adriatic sea — and as a setting for the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale.

But in February, news broke that sounded like a twist right out of a 007 thriller.

Montenegro's special prosecutor, Milivoje Katnic, announced that "Russian state bodies" had backed a plot to overthrow the government and kill the prime minister during elections last October.

Abbad Yahya is used to controversy. For the last five years, the young Palestinian novelist has been writing books that have been criticized for including sex and politically unpopular opinions.

Yahya, who's 28, expected similar complaints about his fourth novel, Crime in Ramallah, published in Arabic late last year, which chronicles the lives of three young men affected by a woman's murder in the city where the Palestinian Authority has its headquarters.

The "most beautiful candidate in Serbia" (self-proclaimed) arrives in the sleepy town of Kovavica at midday, a loudspeaker perched atop his aging car.

He's tall, blue-eyed and wearing his signature white suit, tie and shoes, his long hair in a man-bun.

His name is Ljubisa Beli Preletacevic, or just Beli for short. It means "the guy in white who switches his beliefs for political gain," says the candidate himself.

"I'm every bad politician rolled up into one young, strong man," he declares.

Pages