Travel News

The double life of Franco A.

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Today, Katrin Bennhold, Berlin bureau chief for The Times, tells the story of a far-right German terrorist suspect with a refugee alias.

The far right is gaining visibility across the West, including the United States. But this is particularly pronounced in Germany, where cases of extremists in the military and police have increased recently, Katrin reported this year.

Franco A., a lieutenant in the German army, passed himself off as a Syrian refugee at the height of the migrant crisis in Europe. He had darkened his face and hands with his mother’s makeup and applied shoe polish to his beard. The ruse, prosecutors said, was part of a far-right plot to carry out one or more assassinations for which his refugee alter ego could be blamed, and to spark enough civil unrest to bring down the Federal Republic of Germany.

Franco denies this. He said he was trying to expose flaws in the asylum system. His double life, which lasted 16 months, fell apart after police caught him retrieving a loaded handgun from a toilet at a Vienna airport. (How Franco got the gun, as well as what he planned to do with it, remains a mystery, Katrin says.)

“There were endless and difficult searches to do,” Katrin, who has been covering the far right in Germany since 2018, told me of today’s report. “I spent so many hours trying to glean information on this guy.”

The breakthrough came when she got voice memos Franco had recorded on her iPhone. In the memos, Franco praises Hitler, questions Germany’s atonement for the Holocaust, and engages in plots, among other things.

Franco, who received rave reviews during his time as an officer, has been widely radicalized online, Katrin says, in part by watching conspiracy theories on YouTube.

What makes it interesting “is so much bigger than its own story,” Katrin says. “People have taken a very careful look at the story. And atonement is part of German culture today – it’s real. But the backlash is just as real. “

A morning reading: “There is no such thing as cruelty-free milk.” Faced with pressure from animal rights activists, dairy farmers are starting to change their practices.

From the review: Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico will need to balance the conflicting interests of tribal communities and the federal government if she becomes the first secretary of the Native American cabinet, argues journalist Claudia Lawrence.

Lives lived: Dr H. Jack Geiger has helped found community health centers and advocacy groups in response to poverty, discrimination and war. He believed that doctors should use their expertise and moral authority to change the conditions that make people sick in the first place. He died at age 95.

For most of the year, going out to eat out was next to impossible. When people wanted a treat – and didn’t want to spend a lot of time doing it – they often turned to options that could be delivered. “This year, especially this season, it’s not just a fruit cake or a box of chocolate or a bottle of wine,” said Florence Manufacturer, who has written about food and wine for The Times for over. 40 years. “I see more interest in wanting to be able to send real food.”

Here are some recommendations from Florence:

  • A Neapolitan pizza. Straight from Naples, Italy, this frozen pizza takes about 10 minutes to heat in a 400 degree oven. Travel on your taste buds.

  • Rare southern honey. The Georgia-based Savannah Bee Company offers all kinds of goodies, most of them sweet.

  • A cheese box. Florence recommends one at a dairy like Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont, but there are plenty of local options to try. (If you’re looking for Wisconsin flavors, you’re in luck, too.)

  • A hearty leaven. The adjacent bakery in Manresa, a three-star restaurant in Los Gatos, Calif., Ships flour-cereal breads across the country. (They also make an average kouign-amann, a flaky Breton confectionery.)

If you’re looking to stay closer to home and keep it simple, you can always order a bottle of wine from your local liquor store – or your friends’.

Try this vegan dish inspired by three-cup chicken, a tasty Taiwanese specialty. Serve over rice.

If you enjoy our cooking suggestions, you can get the full recipes – along with cooking guides, videos, tips, and more – with a NYT Cooking membership. Consider subscribing today.

A Times columnist misses restaurants in New York City and counts the lessons she’s learned from going out to eat.

Food writers at The Times praised some of their favorite restaurants that closed this year.

Yesterday’s Spelling Bee pangram was challenge. Today’s puzzle is above – or you can play it online if you have a Games membership.

Here are today’s mini crosswords, and a hint: make, like beer (four letters).

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. – Claire

PS An accidental poem in yesterday’s newsletter made an appearance on the @nythaikus Twitter account: “Subscriber assistance / Helped make Times journalism / possible this year.”

You can see the first printed page of the day here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about a new way to cry. On the latest “Sway,” astrologer Chani Nicholas demystifies a $ 2.2 billion industry.

Amelia Nierenberg, Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can join the team at

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