WYSO

Joanna Kakissis

Each year, the Eurovision Song Contest unites 180 million viewers in more than 40 countries for an electric-falsetto night of glitter, glam and hard-rock hallelujah.

European Parliament lawmakers demanded Thursday that European Union leaders punish Hungary's government for using the COVID-19 pandemic to grab power through a controversial emergency law.

Democracy is weakening across Central and Eastern Europe as well as Eurasia amid the rise of Chinese and Russian influence, according to a new report by Freedom House, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.

The annual report — Nations in Transit 2020, Dropping the Democratic Facade — covers 29 countries from Central Europe to Central Asia and says there are now fewer democracies in the area than at any point in the past 25 years.

Federico Manni first noticed something was wrong with his family's olive trees about six years ago.

It was summer, the cicadas were singing, and Manni and his father, Enzo, were weaving through their olive groves in Puglia, the southern region forming the "heel" of Italy's boot.

They noticed some trees looked burnt.

"Dead branches, brown leaves," Manni says. "Terrible, really terrible."

They pruned and washed the trees but it didn't help. Soon more trees shriveled. Today nearly all are dead.

The International Organization for Migration said Tuesday that it was responding to a new COVID-19 outbreak at a third migrant shelter in Greece.

At least 150 people tested positive for COVID-19 at a hotel that's been converted into a migrant shelter in the town of Kranidi, in southern Greece. They include 148 asylum seekers, an aid worker and a hotel employee.

Updated at 12:34 p.m. ET

Orthodox Christians — 300 million worldwide — are observing Easter, their biggest holiday, this weekend.

The Roma are Europe's largest ethnic minority — and among the most marginalized European citizens, excluded from society for decades. With the coronavirus pandemic, now they're facing a potential humanitarian disaster.

Many of the estimated 12 million Roma in Europe live in shantytowns without access to water, electricity or sanitation — not to mention with sometimes limited access to doctors.

The coronavirus pandemic has all but shuttered global tourism. As quarantines and social distancing continue in countries around the world for the foreseeable future, airlines are warning of bankruptcy, hotels are closed, cruise ships are docked and tour buses are idle.

Greece is among some countries that have begun offering interactive websites to keep their tourism brands afloat — "until we can all be together in person again," Dimitris Fragakis, secretary-general of the Greek National Tourism Organization, said in a statement on Thursday.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, medical personnel, human rights groups and others have warned of catastrophe if COVID-19 spreads to the roughly 60,000 refugees living in often-squalid camps in Greece.

Now the virus has arrived. This week, at least 20 refugees living in the Ritsona camp, near Athens, have tested positive for COVID-19. The camp is now on lockdown for the next two weeks.

"No one can go in or out" except for essential personnel like healthcare workers, Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis told Greece's SKAI radio on Thursday.

The nationalist government in Hungary passed a law Monday granting sweeping emergency powers that Prime Minister Viktor Orban says are necessary to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Those powers include sidelining parliament and giving Orban the power to rule by decree indefinitely. The law would punish those who spread false information about the pandemic with up to five years in prison.

"Changing our lives is now unavoidable," Orban told lawmakers last week. "Everyone has to leave their comfort zone. This law gives the government the power and means to defend Hungary."

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