By Seda Sezer and Dan Williams ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan swore on Sunday he would survive a corruption crisis circling his cabinet, saying those seeking his overthrow would fail just like mass anti-government protests last summer. Erdogan accused his opponents of trying to sap the power of Turkey, which has seen rapid economic growth and assertive foreign policies under his 11-year leadership, in the service of an international plot cloaked as criminal proceedings. Yet striking a somewhat milder tone, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu appeared to seek common ground with a U.S.-based Turkish cleric whose rivalry with Erdogan is widely seen as having stoked the controversy. On Friday, thousands of Turks demanding Erdogan step down clashed with riot police in central Istanbul. The trouble recalled protests in mid-2013 which began over development plans for the city's Gezi park but broadened into complaints of authoritarianism under Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK party. Erdogan, who is touring Turkey to drum up support before local elections in March, defied his accusers over the detention for suspected graft of three ministers' sons and the head of state-run Halkbank on December 17. "They said 'Gezi' and smashed windows. Now they say 'corruption' and smash windows. These conspiracies will not succeed," he told a cheering crowd in western Manisa province. "Their concern is not corruption, law or justice. Their only concern is damaging this nation's power." Erdogan's government has purged about 70 police investigators involved in the case, while financial markets have taken fright and one AK official said national elections could be brought forward from 2015 if the crisis persists. Although 7 protesters and a policeman were killed in last summer's protests, Erdogan's popularity was almost unaffected in opinion polls. Analysts say this was due to his strong support among pious Turks and wealthy elites, as well as the diffuse nature of those demonstrations. However, the current affair threatens to tarnish Erdogan's moral appeal and the crackdown on police has provoked a feud with the judiciary. Fretting investors have dumped Turkish stocks and pushed the lira currency to an all-time low against the dollar, a slide which a cabinet reshuffle failed to halt. The case turned more personal last week when Turkish media published what appeared to be a preliminary summons for Bilal Erdogan, one of the premier's two sons, to testify. Erdogan, who denies any wrongdoing, said Bilal was named to hurt him. RELIGIOUS RIFT Friday's unrest did not recur on Saturday or Sunday. Unlike Erdogan's past confrontations with rivals such as the secularist military, the corruption scandal has exposed an internecine rift among powerful religious Turks. Erdogan's allegations of a foreign hand in the affair put the focus on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who preaches from self-imposed exile in the United States and whose Hizmet movement claims at least a million followers, including senior police and judges, in Turkey. Gulen denies involvement in stirring up the graft case. But he regularly censures Erdogan, a ex-ally with whom he fell out in a dispute for control over an influential network of Turkish cram schools, which prepares students for university exams. In a vaguely phrased sermon uploaded to Gulen's website over the weekend, the cleric likened the current situation to dark historical episodes when "the masses were the playthings of demagogues, put to sleep and awoken at will". He predicted the "funeral of this chaos, and the sacred days when the nation will be on a path to relief, are close". Erdogan has hinted strongly that Gulen deserved blame in the scandal. Davutoglu was more diplomatic on Sunday, saying Hizmet should credit the AK government for its achievements. "We are praying with hope and understanding that what we did over the past 10 years will be seen, and that our friends, our brothers, will search their souls," he told Turkish TV. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for a thorough investigation of the graft allegations in remarks published in a Sunday newspaper. "In a region marked by crises and conflict we need Turkey as a stable anchor," he told Bild am Sonntag. "We trust in the power of the Turkish state to investigate the corruption allegations irrespective of the persons involved," he said. "Succeeding in this is a measure of every state build on the rule of law." The Erdogan government's crackdown on last summer's protests drew rebukes from several members of the European Union, which responded by postponing negotiations on Turkey's application to join the bloc. The talks were revived in November but the EU warned Turkey last week to safeguard an independent judiciary. (Writing by Dan Williams; Additional reporting by Alexandra Hudson in Berlin; Editing by Ralph Boulton)
- Yahoo News
If it takes a miracle for Trump to stay in office, evangelicals like Michele Bachmann are fine with that
As the inevitability of President Trump’s loss became apparent even to his acolyte Kellyanne Conway in recent days, his supporters increasingly pinned their hopes for a second term on a last-ditch appeal, not to the Supreme Court, but to the one power that can outvote it: God.
- Yahoo News
George Floyd’s death and the white response had placed an emphatic point on how twin scourges of economic disenfranchisement and racial segregation had manifested, with the pandemic as a backdrop. My role was victim and teacher all at once, and it enraged me.
- Associated Press
A cargo ship traveling past Yemen in the Gulf of Aden came under attack in unclear circumstances, maritime authorities said Saturday. The Gulf of Aden is a crucial route for global trade and has seen attacks attributed to Yemen’s Houthi rebels as its civil war rages on. The ship ended up off the small port city of Nishtun in Yemen's far east after coming under attack early Saturday morning, according to an alert from the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organization that is overseen by Britain's Royal Navy.
Russia protested on Friday after Latvia charged several journalists from the Rossiya Segodnya news agency with violating European Union sanctions. The journalists were charged because of their association with Dmitry Kiselyov, who heads Rossiya Segodnya, said Sputnik Latvia, a subsidiary of Rossiya Segodnya. The Kremlin media mogul was sanctioned by the EU for his role in Russia's seizure of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
- Christian Science Monitor
Both countries must address feelings of humiliation over past actions. A window of opportunity opens next year to do just that.
- Associated Press
A California psychologist convicted of tax evasion was at the center of a mysterious, recently disclosed Justice Department investigation into whether White House officials were illegally lobbied to obtain a presidential pardon. The effort to obtain the pardon for the psychologist, Hugh Baras, involved a prominent Washington attorney and a major donor to President Donald Trump, according to lawyers involved in the case. One of the lawyers, Reid Weingarten, confirmed that the pardon was sought on behalf of Baras.
Violence in Afghanistan is "unacceptably high" as delayed peace negotiations get underway, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday, adding that Washington has asked the warring parties to "stand back and indeed stand down." Pompeo's comments, made in a virtual address to the IISS Manama Dialogue, an annual security conference, came two days after Kabul-backed and Taliban negotiators reached a deal in Doha to proceed with talks on a political settlement to decades of strife. Pompeo noted that he met with the negotiating teams during a Nov. 21 visit to Doha and he said he told both sides that the strife must be reduced.
- The Telegraph
Labour will be 'putting two fingers up' to voters if it fails to back Brexit deal, Sir Keir Starmer warned
Labour will be putting "two fingers up to voters" if it refuses to back a Brexit trade deal, Sir Keir Starmer has been warned, as a prominent Remainer MP said they would vote for it. Amid splits at the top of the party on whether to withhold support for an agreement, shadow business minister Lucy Powell suggested Labour would struggle to win back voters in “Red Wall” seats if it attempted to abstain. Arguing that a “skinny deal” could be “built on” in future, Ms Powell added that it was better than no deal - which she said would be a “catastrophe” - and was therefore “quite hard for us to oppose”. Echoing her concerns, Chris Bryant MP, a staunch Europhile, revealed he intended to back the deal and urged his colleagues to do the same. Writing for The Telegraph, the former foreign minister said that even if Boris Johnson failed to strike the “comprehensive deal we were promised” the alternative of no trade deal would be “even worse.” While Sir Keir has hinted he intends to back a deal, Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, is said to be one of several shadow cabinet ministers who believe Labour should abstain to avoid being blamed for any economic fallout. Other sceptics include shadow trade secretary Emily Thornberry and shadow justice secretary David Lammy, both prominent remainers, as well as shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray. On Friday evening Lord Kinnock, the former Labour leader, also waded into the row, telling peers that backing the deal would be politically "lethal" for the party. "We must abstain and explain that this is the rational course when faced with a damaging ‘yes’ and a disastrous ‘no’,” he wrote in a private Whatsapp group. However, Ms Powell, who helped lead a review into last year’s crushing election defeat, argued that it was better to be “strong” than refusing to take a position either way. “It’s not just about Brexit, although Brexit was a big symbolic expression of Labour losing touch with its traditional voter base,” she told Huffington Post. “And we can’t keep putting two fingers up to people if we want them to vote for us again and support us and be part of the agenda that we want for the future.” According to Labour insiders, Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, and Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, are also in favour of a deal. Mr Bryant, the MP for Rhondda in Wales, warned that a no deal exit would lead to tariffs on Welsh lamb that would make the meat unaffordable in the EU, where half is sold at present. He also voiced alarm about the security implications of leaving without a deal, adding: “If the Prime Minister does what I expect him to do, namely negotiate some kind of minimalist trade deal with the EU at the very last minute – I expect I will vote for it and I would encourage all my Labour colleagues to do the same.” enior Labour source told The Telegraph a final position was likely to be hammered out over the next few days, adding that the party would need to have come to “collective decision” either before or soon after any deal is struck. Allies of Sir Keir allies have also been frustrated by leaks suggesting the shadow cabinet is divided and are determined to prevent a repeat of the public rows that plagued Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. They believe they are an attempt by advocates of an abstention to bounce Sir Keir into sitting on the fence. While they insist no position has been reached, they have warned that there will be no room for dissent on the frontbench once a decision has been taken. However, a number of shadow cabinet figures believe that proponents of a deal have become too preoccupied on the Red Wall rather than focussing on the issues that will define the next four years. One source told The Telegraph that some in the party appeared to be trying to “refight the last election” rather than thinking of the “bigger picture.”
- Associated Press
Iran's death toll from the global pandemic has risen above 50,000, state television said Saturday, as the country grapples with the worst outbreak in the Middle East. A two-week partial lockdown in the capital of Tehran and other major cities helped slow, but not stop the rising wave of deaths from the coronavirus over the past few weeks. President Hassan Rouhani warned Saturday that the lockdown could be extended to more cities or reimposed on the capital, if people do not abide by health measures.
U.S. lawmakers unveiled the final version of a massive annual defense policy bill on Thursday that defies President Donald Trump's plans to withdraw troops from Germany and keep the names of Confederate generals on military bases, setting the stage for a veto fight in the last weeks before he leaves office. The $740 billion, 4500-page National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, is the result of months of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives. Among other things, the bill expresses support for the continued presence of U.S. forces in Germany and limits the ability of the Department of Defense to reduce the number of active-duty service members there below 34,500 without an assessment of its impact.
- The Telegraph
Michel Barnier is accustomed to being universally praised on his regular tours of the EU's capitals to preach the gospel against Brexit. On Tuesday, he was in the unfamiliar position of coming under friendly fire for the first time in three years as the EU's chief negotiator. It was an uncomfortable moment for Mr Barnier, who was headquartered at the Hotel Conrad in Westminster and is enmeshed in intensive Brexit negotiations with his UK counterpart David Frost. Expectation had been building that a trade agreement with Britain was close and a damaging no deal avoided. A fitting legacy for a politician who had dedicated decades of service to the EU was in Mr Barnier's grasp. He was far from the poisonous briefings in Brussels that were going on behind his back – but bad news travels fast. The chief negotiator was going soft on Britain, EU diplomats in the Belgian capital sniped. He risked giving too much away.
New market-friendly agricultural laws are unfair and exploitative, protesting farmers say.
- Associated Press
A California attorney for an Illinois 17-year-old accused of fatally shooting two people and wounding a third during a night of unrest in Wisconsin is extracting himself from his criminal defense after prosecutors raised ethical concerns about the lawyer. Los Angeles civil lawyer John Pierce has been at the forefront of the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused in the shootings during protests in Kenosha this summer. Pierce has also worked to help secure the $2 million bail for Rittenhouse, who was bound over Thursday for trial.
Iran plans to install hundreds more advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges at an underground plant in breach of its deal with major powers, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report showed on Friday, a move that will raise pressure on U.S. President-elect Joe Biden. The confidential International Atomic Energy Agency report obtained by Reuters said Iran plans to install three more cascades, or clusters, of advanced IR-2m centrifuges in the underground plant at Natanz, which was apparently built to withstand aerial bombardment.
- Yahoo News Video
President Trump fruitlessly pressured Georgia’s governor on Saturday to call a special legislative session aimed at overturning the presidential election results in that state.
- The Week
After six months spent pushing for a more-than $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is fine with something smaller.Earlier this week, a team of bipartisan lawmakers unveiled a $908 billion coronavirus relief. It's smaller than the $1.5 trillion deal the House's bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus drew up in September, and yet this time around, President-elect Joe Biden's win and forthcoming coronavirus vaccines have Pelosi ready to accept it.Pelosi went on to explain that she had held out for a bigger bill with longer-lasting provisions before she knew who would be the next president — essentially, she thought she wouldn't get a second chance at a stimulus package if President Trump was re-elected. But with "a president who recognizes that we need to depend on science to stop the virus" and that "America's families need to have money in their pockets," Pelosi said she was confident she could work out many more smaller relief provisions in the future.> "A new president and a vaccine" -- Pelosi on why there's momentum for coronavirus relief legislation now when there wasn't before the election pic.twitter.com/6PLwrmE305> > — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 4, 2020What hasn't changed is that millions of Americans are still out of work, likely in more dire straits than they were a few months ago as unemployment benefits begin to expire and bills continue to pile up.Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) still hasn't said he'll back the bipartisan relief bill, but a growing number of Senate Republicans have said they're willing to support it.More stories from theweek.com 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims 5 scathingly funny cartoons about the NFL's COVID problem Republican Georgia election official says Trump has put Loeffler, Perdue 'in a box'
- The Telegraph
Former Hong Kong politician Ted Hui has announced he has chosen to go into exile as Beijing intensifies its crackdown on high-profile figures of the former British colony’s pro-democracy movement. Mr Hui, 38, initially fled to Denmark this week where he was joined by his family, but he said he would make his way to the UK to continue his pro-democratic activities. He joins Nathan Law, a prominent Hong Kong human rights activist now based in London, and a growing diaspora of dissidents who are continuing to advocate for more international pressure on China to allow greater rights and freedoms in the Asian financial hub. “My personal determination is that my exile will not be a migration. My only home is Hong Kong which is why I will not apply for asylum in any country,” said Mr Hui, adding that he would make it his “life mission” to fight for the city’s freedom. “There is no word to explain my pain and it’s hard to hold back tears,” he said as he announced his decision via Facebook. Mr Hui also revealed he had resigned from the opposition Democratic Party of Hong Kong. Last month he was one of 15 legislators who quit the city’s legislative council in protest at Beijing’s decision to oust four colleagues over their political views.
- The Daily Beast
On Thursday night, The Daily Show host Trevor Noah took aim at an unlikely target: Democratic politicians.You see, a number of Dem politicians of late have been caught telling their constituents to stay inside and avoid large gatherings while ignoring those rules themselves. Among the offending Dems were San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who attended a group dinner at the swanky restaurant French Laundry; California Governor Gavin Newsom, who was among a group of 12 people dining at French Laundry; and Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who made a video cautioning his fellow Austinites to “stay inside”—but recorded it from a vacation timeshare in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.“Oh man, come on! What is it with these Democrats?” asked Noah, before mimicking Adler’s message to the public: “This is your mayor here, telling you to stay home, and stay safe. Do the right thing… All my boys in the pool know what I’m talking about! Say what’s up, everybody!”“I’m sorry, man. Everyone has given up their lives and then you’ve got these politicians who are just hypocrites out here?” he continued. “What, you guys think corona respects your office too much to come after you? Because don’t forget: it got the president of the United States, it’s not going to be star-struck by Governor Hair Gel,” he cracked, throwing to a photo of Gavin Newsom.Kevin Sorbo Was Hercules. Now He Trolls Liberals All Day on Twitter.The comedian said that even though Republicans are going maskless in droves, and the Trump administration is going so far as to throw a series of indoor parties at the White House—despite a number of Trump administration members contracting COVID—he’s more disappointed in the Dem politicians due to their “hypocrisy.”“In a way, these Democrats are even worse than the anti-maskers because of their hypocrisy,” said Noah. “At least when those dudes break the rules they’re open about it.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Associated Press
The snapshots tell the story of a big man with a big, beaming grin. The McIlvain family passes around the pictures, laughing over their son Charlie's antics captured through the years: Charlie as a youngster camping with a backpack bigger than him, Charlie cheesing for the camera on Christmas with bows stuck to his newly balding head, Charlie in a kilt on his wedding day with lovestruck eyes. Charles McIlvain died on Sept. 2, 2019, at 44.
It took Luis Salgado years of manual labor to save enough money to open a small fresh produce store, so when torrential floods swept away $1,500 worth of apples, bananas and other fruits, he decided there was no longer a future for him in Honduras. Salgado had already been struggling to eke out a profit after measures to curb the novel coronavirus such as additional cleaning cut into his meager revenues. Back-to-back hurricanes Eta and Iota internally displaced more than half a million people in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, according to International Organization for Migration data.