By Ece Toksabay ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish court on Wednesday ordered the release on bail of eight human rights activists, including the director of the local branch of Amnesty International, pending a verdict in their trial on terrorism charges. The case against the activists, who number 11 in total and who face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty, has become a flashpoint in Turkey's tense relations with Europe and heightened concern that an important NATO member is sliding further towards authoritarianism under President Tayyip Erdogan. Among those ordered released were Idil Eser, the director of Amnesty in Turkey, as well as Peter Steudtner, a German national, and Ali Gharavi, a Swede. Under the terms of their release, Steudtner and Gharavi are not required to remain in Turkey before the next court date on Nov. 22. Two other activists were released on bail prior to the start of Wednesday's trial. Another, Amnesty's local chairman, is still being held in the coastal province of Izmir where he faces charges in a separate case. "I think we're all more than relieved," a tearful Steudtner told reporters after he walked out of the Silivri prison, outside of Istanbul, a few hours later. "We are really grateful for everyone who supported us legally (and) diplomatically." The case had brought widespread condemnation from rights groups, some Western governments and, on social media, prominent activists such as Edward Snowden. Almost all of the eleven were detained in July after participating in a workshop on digital security held on an island off the coast of Istanbul. The prosecutor has alleged a range of charges, including helping the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Ankara of engineering last year's coup attempt. "It is a happy development that our friends are released, but this case should have never been brought," said one of the defense lawyers, Erdal Dogan. "We need a state of law and we need the support of our citizens." 'ENCOURAGING SIGNAL' Germany, which has seen a steady deterioration in ties with Turkey over the case and other rows, said it welcomed the decision, even though it remained concerned about Ankara's record on rights. "That is an encouraging signal, a first step," Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement, adding that many Germans remained imprisoned in Turkey for no clear reason. Eser, the local Amnesty director, had earlier told the court that she had been arrested for doing her job. "I don't understand how I can be associated with three different terrorist organizations by having attended a workshop," she said. "I don't have anything to regret. I just did my work as a human rights defender." The prosecutor has cited Amnesty's links to jailed hunger strikers and alleged that some of the defendants had contact with people who had downloaded the encrypted messaging app used by the plotters of last year's failed coup. Another accused, Ozlem Dalkiran, told the court: "I have no idea why we're here." "I dedicated my life to truth, human rights and justice. Now I am here being charged with membership in a terrorist organization," said Dalkiran, a member of the Turkish arm of the Citizens' Assembly rights organization. Authorities have jailed more than 50,000 people pending trial in a crackdown following the failed military coup. Erdogan says the purges across society are necessary to maintain stability in a key NATO country bordering Iran, Iraq and Syria. European allies fear he is using the investigations to check opposition and undermine the judiciary. The case has worsened Turkey's already fraught relations with the European Union. Shortly after the arrests, Germany said it was reviewing Turkey's applications to buy weaponry from Germany. A cabinet minister in Berlin compared Ankara's behavior to that of the former communist East Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Turkey's 12-year-old attempt to join the European Union should be halted, although Ankara has said it remains determined to press on with its accession process. (Additional reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen, Ezgi Erkoyun, Osman Orsal, Yesim Dikmen and Mehmet Emin Caliskan; Michelle Martin and Andrea Shalala in Berlin; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Ralph Boulton and Simon Cameron-Moore)
- The Daily Beast
ABCOn Thursday night, comedian Jimmy Kimmel kicked off the latest edition of Jimmy Kimmel Live! by addressing the vaccine selfie that Ivanka Trump—whose father, brother, and stepmother contracted COVID-19 due to their reckless behavior—posted to her Instagram.“I’m glad she did it and posted about it, but the comments under her post are, ‘nope,’ ‘not doing it,’ ‘hard no,’ ‘pass,’ ‘you’re joking, right?’ and ‘I never will.’ What a solid fanbase this is,” cracked Kimmel, adding, “Which is it, Trumpsters? Does Donald Trump deserve credit for the miracle of vaccines, or are they useless? It can’t be both of those things!”Stellan Skarsgard Is Finally Seizing the SpotlightLater on in his monologue, Kimmel shouted-out a recent Daily Beast story revealing the Venmo payments that House Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and his fellow accused sex-trafficker/pal, Joel Greenberg, made to a number of women via Venmo.“Meanwhile, there are more details in the sordid saga of future former Florida congressman Matt Gaetz,” explained Kimmel. “Yesterday we learned that Gaetz was involved in more wild house parties than Kid n’ Play in the ‘90s. There were drugs and sex at these parties where women were given gifts of money in exchange for their participation, much of it paid through Venmo.”He continued: “So, The Daily Beast got their hands on Venmo transactions from this guy Joel Greenberg, one of Gaetz’s closest friends. Greenberg is now cooperating with authorities, which is bad for Matt Gaetz, presumably as a result of more than 150 payments made to dozens of young women. At least 16 of those payments were made to a woman who later dated Matt Gaetz, and the notes—you know how you put the notes on Venmo?—they’re ridiculous. Three payments—for $500, $200, and $250—labeled ‘ice cream.’ Five other payments labeled ‘salad.’ One of those ‘salads’ cost more than $1,000. I guess they added avocado. Two of those transactions were for ‘stuff’ and ‘other stuff.’”“Of course, we know about all this because stupid Joel Greenberg made his Venmo transactions public—as did Matt Gaetz,” Kimmel said. “They didn’t check the privacy box. What’s the opposite of a criminal mastermind?”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.
Lifting weights is the most efficient way to get a lean physique, says CrossFit competitor turned 'Wonder Woman' actress Brooke Ence
It's a myth that weight lifting makes women bulky - strength training is great for toning and strength, she said.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The Seahawks tried to acquire Aldon Smith before the trade deadline last season, but they were rebuffed by the Cowboys. Now, they get him for free.
- Associated Press
An appeals court has overturned the sentence of Texas’ longest serving death row inmate, whose attorneys say has languished in prison for more than 45 years because he's too mentally ill to be executed. Raymond Riles’ “death sentence can no longer stand” because the 70-year-old inmate’s history of mental illness was not properly considered by jurors, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Wednesday. When Riles was tried, state law did not expect jurors to consider mitigating evidence such as mental illness when deciding whether someone should be sentenced to death.
- Business Insider
Manchin balks at GOP's smaller infrastructure plan - and says he can back $4 trillion as long as it's paid for
Republicans are putting together an infrastructure plan of up to $800 billion and wooing Joe Manchin. But he wants to go bigger.
- Business Insider
How Delta, Rangers, and the Green Berets' unique training would pay off in an Arctic war with Russia
Arctic warfare demands a special set of skills to survive and win - skills that Army special operators have long trained to master.
More migrants are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border near Del Rio, Texas than Martinez recalls in his 13 years as Val Verde County Sheriff. Last month, he said, a resident fired his gun to scare a group of migrants walking on the outskirts of town; nearby schools were locked down in response. Tensions are rising in Del Rio, a city of 35,000, as the nation once again grapples with an increase in migrants seeking entry into the United States.
- Yahoo News
The COVID-19 vaccine that Russia approved for use last August, before undergoing crucial phase III trials, appears to be another tool in Vladimir Putin’s arsenal of political tricks designed to ensure Russia's status as a global power.
- The Telegraph
The ousted Myanmar ambassador to the UK has urged the British Government to help him as he faces being evicted from his residence by the country’s military regime. Kyaw Zwar Minn, who was last week forced out of the Myanmar embassy at the orders of the junta, was told to leave by Thursday the London house where he has lived with his family since his appointment in 2013 or face prosecution. The military regime – which seized power on Feb 1, paving the way for a bloody suppression of all civilian opposition – appears determined to extract revenge on the ambassador for daring to criticise the coup. Now he has urged Boris Johnson’s government to intervene and offer protection to him and his family. Speaking outside his residence in Hampstead he said: “I say to the British Government help me, help me, help me. I am hoping they will do so over the next few days.”
- The Independent
Trump supporters called Ivanka a ‘disappointment’ for getting the jab
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence received a heart pacemaker device during routine surgery on Wednesday and is expected to fully recover, his spokesman said on Thursday. Pence, 61, who previously disclosed an "asymptomatic" heart condition, underwent the procedure at the Inova Fairfax medical facility in Virginia after experiencing symptoms associated with a slow heart rate over the past two weeks, spokesman Devin O'Malley said in a statement. “I am grateful for the swift professionalism and care of the outstanding doctors, nurses and staff at Inova Heart and Vascular Institute," Pence said in a statement, adding thanks to his doctors in his home state of Indiana.
- Business Insider
Port delays in Southern California are helping drive shortages and delivery delays in the US, as massive cargo ships wait weeks to dock and unload.
- FOX News Videos
'You don't end wars by announcing that you're leaving,' Wyoming Republican tells 'Your World'
- The Independent
“You’re indicating liberty and freedom. I look at it as a public health measure to prevent people from dying and going to hospital,” Dr Fauci said
- Associated Press
Federal prosecutors will not charge a police officer who shot and killed a woman as she climbed through the broken part of a door during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the Justice Department said Wednesday. Authorities had considered for months whether criminal charges were appropriate for the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran from San Diego. Video clips posted online depict Babbitt, wearing a stars and stripes backpack, stepping up and beginning to go through the waist-high opening of an area of the Capitol known as the Speaker’s Lobby when a gunshot is heard.
The controversial YouTuber said in a pre-fight media event on Thursday that he had "gotten brain scans" that showed early signs of chronic trauma to his brain.
COVID-19 restrictions and the ongoing pandemic have once again tempered many of the usual customs and traditions.
- USA TODAY Opinion
This is America: No I don't eat pork, but yes I'd love a glass (or five) of wine. Not all Muslims practice Islam the same
Here is a casual reminder this Ramadan not to stereotype Muslims (Translation: don't @ me if you see me stuffing my face.)
Allison Janney says 'Mom' producers were shocked when she showed up for the final season with short gray hair
Allison Janney says she's sported a blonde wig for seven seasons on "Mom," but the producers didn't know and were shocked by her natural gray hair.
- Business Insider
Jonathan Pentland's social-media accounts list him as a drill sergeant at the Fort Jackson garrison, the Associated Press reported.