World War I Devastation and the American Hospital of Paris

The First World War was unprecedented in its scale and impact, forcing medicine to respond and evolve. At the American Hospital in Paris, doctors developed better anesthesia and a precursor to the modern ambulance, among other advances. When the war broke out in August 1914, Americans in France and at home joined efforts to restructure, equip and staff a 600-bed military hospital in the Lycée Pasteur building in Neuilly-sur-Seine, under management of the nearby American Hospital of Paris. Volunteers from the expatriate community and from the United States stepped forward to serve as doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers, funded through an unprecedented wave of giving. The American Hospital became the epicenter of these volunteer efforts, organizing the first motor-ambulance squad, setting up field hospitals and convalescent centers, and bringing modern medicine to treat terrible war wounds. NBC’s Lucy Kafanov reports for Nightly News.

The Yellow Vests and Why There Are So Many Street Protests in France

Rioting erupted in the heart of the French capital Saturday, as protests against President Emmanuel Macron morphed into melees that left burning cars and shattered storefronts across one of the city’s most upscale neighborhoods.

The demonstrations, among the most destructive to hit Paris in recent decades, signal the depth of public opposition to Mr. Macron as he moves to enact sweeping overhauls of the French economy. A protest movement of “gilets jaunes,” or yellow vests, has ridden a wave of popular discontent with the French leader to become the most potent threat yet to his young presidency.

While France is accustomed to sometimes violent protests in the working class suburbs of Paris, Saturday’s rioting occurred in the streets around the Champs-Élysées, a magnet for tourists and the wealthy. The area on Saturday would normally be thronged with holiday shoppers. Instead, stores closed en masse and boarded up their windows as they braced for the demonstrators. NBC’s Lucy Kafanov reports from Paris for the TODAY Show, Nightly News with Lester Holt and MSNBC:

Searching for America's Next Bobby Fischer

The last American to win the world chess championship was a Brooklyn-bred grandmaster who stunned the world champion and took his title.

The next one may be, too.

Beginning this week, Fabiano Caruana, a 26-year-old grandmaster who has spent the last two decades fighting his way up the ranks to reach No. 2 in the world, is expected to lay serious claim to a title that has not been held by an American since Bobby Fischer won it from Boris Spassky in 1972.

Caruana will challenge the world’s best player, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, at the World Chess Championships in London. NBC’s Lucy Kafanov reports on the World Chess Championships for the TODAY Show:

Dreaming Big with the Liverpool Giants :: Lucy Kafanov reports

In Liverpool this weekend, we were treated to an unusual sight: Giants roaming the streets. This was puppetry of colossal proportions — brought to us by the French street theater company Royal Deluxe. It was the third time these gentle giants visited Liverpool, and the last the world will get to see them. We were lucky enough to experience the magic and the wonder — reminding us all to dream big.

Check out our story for NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt:

AN INCREDIBLE SIGHT

I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO VISIT THE LOFOTEN ISLANDS IN NORTHERN NORWAY FOR A STORY RECENTLY. THIS WAS MY FIRST TIME SEEING NATURE’S GREATEST LIGHT SHOW: THE AURORA BOREALIS.

 NBC’S LUCY KAFANOV UNDER THE NORTHERN LIGHTS. SEPTEMBER 2018

NBC’S LUCY KAFANOV UNDER THE NORTHERN LIGHTS. SEPTEMBER 2018

Meet Russia's Arctic Army

As President Donald Trump seeks to open the Arctic waters for offshore oil and gas drilling, there's a race unfolding for the remote region's mineral wealth. Russia's military is on the march in the arctic - its biggest push in the region since the fall of the Soviet Union. NBC's Lucy Kafanov is the first American journalist to get access to Russia's newly-formed arctic brigade on the northern frontier near the border with Finland.

Watch our story below or read more here: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/russia-s-military-buildup-arctic-has-u-s-watching-closely-n753041

Vocativ: Turkey And Russia: True Frenemies When It Comes To Syria

It was the nightmare scenario analysts warned about ever since Russia formally entered the Syrian conflict: Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border on Tuesday, dramatically escalating tensions between the NATO member country and Moscow while raising the prospect of further chaos in the Middle East.

“There was plenty of time from the first warning to the shot being fired for this to run up and down the chain of command,” said Howard Eissenstat, a Turkey expert at St. Lawrence University in New York state. “I don’t think this was an accident. I think this was a game of chicken that went wrong.”

You can read the rest of my story for Vocativ here: Turkey And Russia: True Frenemies When It Comes To Syria

Newsweek: In Germany, Shock, Sympathy and New Debate Over 'Open Door'

In my latest story for Newsweek, I examine Germany's reaction to the devastating attacks in Paris and whether they are likely to affect Berlin's open-door policy towards refugees.

You can read the story here: In Germany, Shock, Sympathy and New Debate Over 'Open Door'

I also contributed some reporting to Bill Powell's excellent cover story for the magazine, Paris Attacks Show 9/11 Changed Everything and Nothing. If you have a few spare minutes, it is worth a read.


"Where we come from, there is only death."

I have a new story out in USA Today, along with several photographs, documenting the perilous journey of war refugees as they seek safety and better opportunities in Europe. Here's a short excerpt: 

IDOMENI, Greece — Clutching his son as he trudged through a field of sunflowers toward Greece’s border with Macedonia, Aladdin Shoumali’s eyes glistened with tears in the dim moonlight as he described why he fled his native Syria.
“My daughter dead, my father and brother dead, our home destroyed — we lost everyone, everything in this terrible war,” said Shoumali, 34, wincing as the toddler let out another piercing cry. “My son is sick and we have not slept in days, but there is nothing to do except keep walking.”
So they pressed on, part of an unrelenting tide of desperate people fleeing war-torn homelands to find refuge and better opportunities in Europe. More than 340,000 people have entered Europe so far this year — surpassing 100,000 in July alone — in what authorities describe as the worst refugee crisis since World War II. With unprecedented numbers of migrants making the long and perilous journey to reach European Union borders, countries are struggling to cope.

Read the rest of the story on the USA Today website: Migrants press on, hoping to find refuge anywhere in Europe

Seeking refuge from war, thousands cross from Greece into Macedonia

I spent several days at the Greek-Macedonian border, covering the plight of migrants -- most of them families seeking refuge from bloody conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. These are a few of the photographs from my time with them:

A long and difficult day on the Greek-Macedonian border, with hundreds of refugees waiting for hours in the sweltering heat to be able to cross. There there was no aid presence whatsoever in the early hours of the morning -- just us and the Macedonian riot police. By the afternoon, a handful of volunteers began to trickle in to help. An ice cream vendor set up his cart right next to the border crossing, but not before treating several dozen children to free cones.

The United Nations expects up to 3,000 migrants to cross into Macedonia every day in the next few months -- most of them refugees fleeing war.

A young girl takes a nap as her family waits for the Macedonian-Greek border crossing to open.

Surrounded by Macedonian riot police, a Syrian boy waits to cross into the country from Greece.

Hundreds of migrants wait on the train tracks for Macedonians to open the border crossing.

UNICEF has established a child-friendly space with a mobile team near Gevgelija town, at the border with Greece to provide much needed support to women and children on the move through the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. At the moment, there are no such facilities on the Greek side where refugees are massing as they wait to cross.

AJE: Refugees flee Syrian border town as Kurdish forces push back Islamic State fighters

This week, Syrian Kurdish fighters -- backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and a group of Syrian rebel allies -- wrested control of a key Syrian border town from the so-called Islamic State. My report from the Turkish-Syrian border for Al Jazeera English:

Years of instability and political uncertainty have taken their toll on Tal Abyad's residents. Several of the refugees crossing back home refused to answer reporters' questions, citing security concerns.

Whoever controls the town is in charge. I have learned long ago that political opinions are best kept private. Returning Tal Abyad resident "Whoever controls the town is in charge," said a man who was heading back to Tal Abyad with his wife and two daughters. "I have learned long ago that political opinions are best kept private."

Read more here: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/06/refugees-syria-tal-abyad-face-uncertain-future-150618101233030.html