Erdogan proclaimed winner of Turkey’s presidential election

Posted on: June 24th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

He’s bidding for a presidency with broadly expanded powers.

Protest of Macedonia name deal gets unruly in Greece

Posted on: June 24th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Over 5,000 people demonstrated in Greece’s second-largest city against a deal with Macedonia that seeks to end nearly 27 years of disagreement between the two countries over Macedonia’s name

Prince William on historic Mideast trip, praises Jordan ties

Posted on: June 24th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The tour will include Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Prince William on historic Mideast trip, praises Jordan ties

Posted on: June 24th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The tour will include Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Turkey heads to polls for 2nd time since Erdogan imposed emergency rule

Posted on: June 24th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(ANKARA, Turkey) — Turkey’s voters will go to the polls Sunday for the country’s second election since emergency rule was imposed after the 2016 attempted coup.

President Recep Erdogan has since the attempted coup acted to reassert his position and his power, including through the imposition of emergency law that enables him to pass legislation without parliamentary scrutiny or intervention from the judiciary.

In addition, the government has imprisoned more than 140 journalists and dismissed or suspended from duty more than 100,000 public servants, according to Human Rights Watch. Around 28,000 of these dismissed public employees are teachers whom the government says are supporters of exiled dissident Fethullah Gulen.

Why is Turkey going to the polls again?

Citing economic challenges and a growing military campaign in Syria, Erdogan announced this snap election — its fourth election in six years — more than a year before it is due. When it was announced, the opposition had barely two months to organize a campaign. Some international observers raise concerns about whether a fair election is possible considering Erdogan has almost complete control of domestic media, including newspapers that account for around 90 percent of overall circulation.

The voting process

More than 50 million voters will head to the polls on Sunday to choose both the president and representatives to the Parliament. There are also 3 million expatriates eligible to vote, some of whom started voting early this month. If no presidential candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the election moves to a runoff vote in early July.

Who is the opposition?

The main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party is led by Muharrem Ince. Conservative but secular, this party is opposed to Erdogan’s conservative party, accusing it of promoting a creeping Islamisation of country.

Nationalist candidate Meral Aksener, nicknamed the “she-wolf” by her admirers, leads the Iyi party and is seen by many as the only viable alternative to Erdogan in a country that is becoming increasingly conservative. She is targeting voters in Erdogan’s party who are unhappy with corruption allegations, as well as others who are growing frustrated with the inability of other opposition parties to take control.

There is also a Kurdish presidential candidate, Selahattin Demirtas, who is running from behind bars after being imprisoned in November 2016 as part of the purge following the attempted coup. He won almost 10 percent of the vote in the last election, and if he were to get a bigger percentage this time, the ruling coalition may lose its majority. However there are widespread fears of vote-rigging and intimidation of voters, particularly in areas heavily populated by Kurds in the southeast of the country.

What happens after the vote?

If Erdogan wins both the presidency and control of Parliament, observers worry that Turkey could continue a slide from authoritarianism to outright dictatorship. Most analysts believe, however, that Erdogan will take the presidency but lose a majority in Parliament, which could lead to turbulent political times ahead for Turkey and possibly force another election if political gridlock ensues.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

UK’s Prince William starts politically delicate Mideast trip

Posted on: June 24th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The tour will include Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

UK’s Prince William starts politically delicate Mideast trip

Posted on: June 24th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The tour will include Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Kushner rips Abbas, says Mideast peace plan due ‘soon’

Posted on: June 24th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

He said the US will present its peace plan with or without input from Abbas.

Kushner rips Abbas, says Mideast peace plan due ‘soon’

Posted on: June 24th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

He said the US will present its peace plan with or without input from Abbas.

Police: 25 injured in building explosion in Germany

Posted on: June 24th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Police would not comment when asked if the explosion could be terror-related.

In about-face, Iraq’s maverick al-Sadr moves closer to Iran

Posted on: June 24th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Iraq’s mercurial Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s move to join forces with an Iran-backed coalition of powerful Shiite militias boosts Tehran’s interests in Iraq and gives it more leverage over the formation of the next government

US moves 100 coffins to N. Korean border for war remains

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The U.S. military says it has moved 100 wooden coffins to the inter-Korean border to prepare for North Korea’s returning of the remains of American soldiers who have been missing since the 1950-53 Korean War

Saudi women get behind the wheel of a car for the first time in history

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) — At the stroke of midnight on Sunday, women in Saudi Arabia got behind the wheels of their cars and drove in the streets of the conservative capital Riyadh, a daily mundane act everywhere else but here. They marked the historic end to a ban on women driving, the culmination of more than three decades of activism.

Women, with beaming husbands and male relatives by their side in the passenger seats, appeared on Saudi television and on social media platforms driving in the streets of the kingdom. One addressed her fellow women from behind the wheel, “The sky’s the limit. Nothing can stop you.”

Traffic policemen were photographed handing out roses to female drivers, an extremely unusual act in a conservative, gender-segregated society where strict rules govern male-female interactions.

While some women had been hesitant to drive as soon as the ban lifted — preferring to wait and see how it goes — the first hours of Sunday in Saudi still saw an enthusiastic number of women driving.

One woman even reportedly got a speeding ticket, seemingly fitting in nicely with her countrymen’s taste for speed. Her husband playfully reported on Twitter that his wife was probably the first woman to be fined for speeding, driving 70 in a 55 mph zone. The tweet has since been deleted.

Yet not every woman who’s been eager to drive was able to. Some of the women who have been advocating for decades for this very right were still in jail after being detained at the end of May. They were not forgotten in this historic moment though. Fellow activist Manal al-Sharif, who lives in exile, tweeted an announcement of a new campaign channeling the miles women will now be able to drive; to obtain the release of the detained activists; and continue to push for the end of male guardianship laws, the next frontier in women empowerment in Saudi Arabia.

Excitement has been steadily building since the king announced the lifting of the ban on women driving last September. Over the past few months, women have enthusiastically gone to auto shows specifically geared toward them, signed up for driving lessons and traded in their foreign licenses for Saudi ones.

Pictures of women proudly holding their licenses have abounded on social media and have made the cover of one of the leading Arab women’s magazines, Sayidati.

Many Saudi women drive abroad, including in neighboring conservative Arab countries such as Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates. As such, 21 centers were set up to exchange foreign-issued driver licenses for Saudi ones across the provinces of the kingdom. And the first licenses were delivered at the beginning of the month.

The world’s most profitable oil company, Saudi Aramco, employing more than 60,000 people in the kingdom and running city-sized compounds, set up a driving school to train thousands of its female employees and female descendants of its employees. One of those brought in to oversee the effort was California driving instructor Norma Adrianzen, who moved to the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran two months ago, along with a Canadian and a British colleague. She has found her Saudi driving students exactly the same as the students she teaches in California, except for one difference: They are very cognizant of the historic nature of their undertaking.

“I really felt it became real for them the day they applied for their licenses. They all went quiet in the room. It was surreal and very emotional,” Adrianzen told ABC News.

The ages of the students at the school range from 18 to 50. Some already drive abroad; others are first-time drivers.

She expects to be in the country over the next two years, with thousands of eager students to teach. And her Canadian colleague Deborah Sherwood would even like to train some of the men in Saudi, known for their love of speed. “They could definitely use some of our training,” she told ABC News in jest. A woman training a man on how to drive in the conservative kingdom might still be a step too far even amid the liberalizing reforms underway.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing though. On June 19, a news item circulated on Saudi Twitter saying that in the eastern province of Saudi, only 67 out of 13,000 female candidates passed the driving tests required, drawing the ire of some in the hyperactive Saudi Twittersphere.

Nevertheless, those who have gotten their Saudi driver’s license have described the moment as “surreal.”

Well-respected Saudi scholar Hatoon Ajwad Al- Fassi told local newspaper Arab News, “It is as if I have been recognized as an equal citizen. … I felt strange going in the front door of the main traffic department, one of the taboo places for women in Saudi Arabia.”

Yet this change has come at a steep price for others.

The activists who had become the faces of the decadeslong struggle to secure the right to drive were abruptly detained at the end of May. Though they had seemingly contributed to bringing about that change, they had quickly moved on to advocate for an end to the male guardianship law that compels women to seek the permission of their male relatives for traveling, conducting official business or undergoing certain medical procedures.

They had also recently started advocating for victims of domestic violence.

Their advocacy may not have played in their favor in a deeply patriarchal country — a country still ruled by an all-powerful monarch, where political dissent is not tolerated.

Four women and five men are in custody after being referred to the Specialized Criminal Court to be, per Saudi paper Okaz, all for allegedly conspiring against the national security of Saudi Arabia on behalf of foreign entities.

And in recent days, Human Rights Watch reported the arrest of two additional female activists who had publicly decried the earlier arrests.

The arrests puzzled many who had been enthused by the social reforms put in place by the powerful young prince. He is seen as the impetus behind the lifting of the driving ban as well as the return of cinemas to the kingdom and a relaxing of gender segregation in the workplace.

Nevertheless, Twitter has been alight with comments using a hashtag that translates to #Women_Driving_Cars. Some, like prominent Saudi television journalist Muna Abusulayman, tweeted lyrics from The Pointer Sisters’ 1980s hit “I’m So Excited.”

Others were more hesitant.

Some, mainly men, poked fun, tweeting memes showing children and a husband fighting over the backseat.

Or tweeted sexist advice urging women not to “put makeup while driving.”

Though some men were supportive, even pointing out how dismal and dangerous Saudi male driving is.

“Seeing a lot of commentary ridiculing and fear-mongering about women driving, but I’d like to show you a video I shot this morning from my car, this is how men drive, women won’t be worse!” one Twitter user wrote.

In addition to setting up driving schools and driving simulators, a special parking section for ladies only has already been set up in one of the most popular shopping malls in Riyadh.

Some slots formerly reserved for drivers with disabilities have been superseded by a newer pink stamp in the shape of a woman.

While some were delighted to see the signs, Haya AlNaeemi, a Saudi woman, commented that these measures “give the idea that the Saudi woman needs special attention and isn’t equal to the man, and will reinforce gender segregation in contrast to the mixing of the sexes while driving or at work.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

BNSF: Estimated 230,000 gallons of oil spilled in derailment

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

An estimated 230,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into floodwaters in the northwestern corner of Iowa following an early Friday morning derailment, a railroad official said Saturday

Jogger says US detained her after accidental border crossing

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Woman had traveled from France to Canada to visit her mother in British Columbia

Jogger says US detained her after accidental border crossing

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Woman had traveled from France to Canada to visit her mother in British Columbia

Women will be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia on June 24

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) — Women in Saudi Arabia will be able to drive for the first time on June 24, ending a long-standing rule in the country. King Salman declared last September that the country would end its ban on women driving a vehicle.

According to BBC News, women were first issued licenses earlier this months.

The move comes after years of protest and pushback against the ban, with several women having been arrested in 1990 in the country’s capital Riyadh.

Over the past decade, some Saudi women have posted videos of themselves driving even though the ban was still in place.

Women will be able to drive in the country on June 24 at midnight local time.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Women will be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia on June 24

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) — Women in Saudi Arabia will be able to drive for the first time on June 24, ending a long-standing rule in the country. King Salman declared last September that the country would end its ban on women driving a vehicle.

According to BBC News, women were first issued licenses earlier this months.

The move comes after years of protest and pushback against the ban, with several women having been arrested in 1990 in the country’s capital Riyadh.

Over the past decade, some Saudi women have posted videos of themselves driving even though the ban was still in place.

Women will be able to drive in the country on June 24 at midnight local time.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Argentina: cocaine seized in World Cup trophy replicas

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

An organization trafficked marijuana and cocaine in fake World Cup trophies.

Israelis, Palestinians await William’s inaugural royal visit

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

This will be the first official visit of a member of the British royal family.

US moves 100 coffins to inter-Korean border for war remains

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The U.S. military says it has moved 100 wooden coffins to the inter-Korean border to prepare for North Korea’s returning of the remains of American soldiers who have been missing since the 1950-53 Korean War

1 dead after attack at huge rally for Ethiopia’s new PM

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

1 dead after blast at huge Ethiopia rally for reformist new PM; a ‘well-orchestrated attack’

The Latest: 1st confirmed death after Ethiopia rally blast

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

The Latest: Ethiopia’s health minister confirms 1st death after blast at rally for new PM

Deadly blast at Ethiopia rally a ‘well-orchestrated attack’

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Deadly blast at huge Ethiopia rally to support reformist new PM a ‘well-orchestrated attack’

Whiskey, Harley prices expected to jump in Europe as tariffs take effect

Posted on: June 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — In the heart of London’s Soho, whiskey mecca Milroy’s of Soho has a section dedicated exclusively to American whiskey.

“The rarer products we get in … they’ll be hit fairly quickly because there’s not that much of it in the country,” the owner of the shop, Simo, who prefers to go by just one name, told ABC News.

Milroy’s customers will feel the price rise quickly, he said Friday afternoon, as whiskey drinkers filed in after work.

The European Union’s imposition on Friday of tariffs on American imports in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s tariffs on aluminum and steel imports will be applied to anything that leaves the U.S. today, going forward.

The American tariffs effect some $7.5 billion worth of European goods coming into the U.S., while the current European tariffs hit some $3.2 billion worth of American goods.

But it’s the specific goods the E.U. chose that matters, economist Matthew Oxenford, of the London think tank Chatham House, told ABC News in an interview at Milroy’s.

The E.U. has levied a 25 percent duty on scores of products, including iconic American brands Levi jeans, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Kentucky bourbon. Some other goods have been hit with 10 or 50 percent tariffs.

“I think any sort of retaliatory tariff like this sort of tariff is designed not to inflict the most economic damage but the most political damage on the people who implemented these tariffs, in this case President Trump. So they’re targeting iconic brands that have political resonance with powerful Republicans in Congress such as Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, also the new potential House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from northern California, near where Levi’s is headquartered,” Oxenford said.

Even orange juice from Florida, a swing state in U.S. presidential elections, is included.

“Generally when economists talk about a tit-for-tat trade war, this is exactly what they’re talking about. The United States has implemented tariffs on steel and aluminum, the EU has retaliated, the U.S. thinks that’s unfair and is retaliating further,” Oxenford said.

Trump on Friday threatened to impose a 20 percent tariff on cars from the E.U.

“This could become something that affects more and more and more products, and more and more and more consumers will feel the pinch,” Oxenford said.

Harley-Davidson in the UK declined an invitation from ABC News for an interview but in a statement said its position on tariffs hadn’t changed. “We support free and fair-trade policies that address barriers to international growth and allow us to compete globally,” the company said.

For Simo, Kentucky bourbon may cease to compete, and his customers’ taste may just shift.

“Europe is actually the largest emerging market for American whiskey. I mean the UK alone imported 124 million pounds last year. That’s just in the UK alone. And unfortunately with this 25-percent tariff, it’s going to make it slightly unobtainable for sort of those whiskey drinkers coming in,” Simo said.

“It’s going to kill the American whisky industry here,” he added, saying he was among those in the U.K. who wore Levi jeans and drove a Harley-Davidson. “Yeah, my life is about to get a bit more expensive.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Whiskey, Harley prices expected to jump in Europe as tariffs come into effect

Posted on: June 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Some popular U.S. products are expected to jump in price in Europe due to tariffs.

Russian city sprays vanilla to try to repel clouds of gnats before World Cup game

Posted on: June 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(VOLGOGRAD, Russia) — Authorities in the Russian city of Volgograd are spraying vanilla concentrate to try to stop huge clouds of gnats from impacting the World Cup games being played at the city’s stadium.

The gnats attracted almost as much attention as the soccer during a game between England and Tunisia last Monday. Swarms of the insects were visible on television and players batted and swatted at them throughout the game. One German TV journalist took extreme measures, donning a bee-keeping mask during her broadcast.

“There were a lot more than I first thought … some of them in your eyes, some of them in your mouth,” England’s captain, Harry Kane, told reporters after his team won 2-1.

To try to head off the problem ahead of Friday’s match between Iceland and Nigeria, city authorities said they were spraying vanilla concentrate on trees and shrubs around the stadium, the state news agency TASS reported.

“The vanilla concentrate will not create inconveniences for fans, but it will be enough to repel the gnats,” one official told TASS.

Formerly known as Stalingrad and the site of the Second World War’s bloodiest battle, Volgograd is located in southwest Russia on the huge Volga River — the longest river in Europe that stretches hundreds of meters wide. The waters and marshes around the city are ideal breeding grounds for the gnats during the hot, dry summers there.

Organizers had known the insects would be a nuisance during the World Cup and had taken other measures before the tournament, using helicopters to spray pesticide on nearby marshland. Authorities had also reportedly regulated the flow of water through a hydro-electric dam, which locals believe has an effect on the flies’ numbers.  

Large trucks with sprayers on the front were seen hosing the roads with vanilla concentrate near the fan zone set up for people to watch game. Volunteers were also handing out bug spray. Rules banning liquids from being brought into the fan zone had been relaxed to allow people to bring in their own repellent.

Dantata Ubaidullah, a Nigerian fan, told Reuters: “We came close to the river and they were almost entering our eyes, our ears and they flew around your face wherever you go.”

But both Nigerian and Icelandic fans getting ready for their teams’ match said they didn’t believe their players would be put off by the flies.

“This doesn’t bother us because we are from Iceland. Our players are tough, they won’t complain at all,” Egill Skallagrimsson told Reuters.

“The heat the flies the mosquitoes, everything – it feels like home so I think it’s an advantage to Nigeria than to Iceland,” Ubaidullah added.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Russian city sprays vanilla to try to repel clouds of gnats before World Cup game

Posted on: June 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Huge clouds of the insects have bothered players and fans in Volgograd

New, long-extinct ape species found in ancient Chinese tomb

Posted on: June 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Thierry Falise/LightRocket via Getty Images(SHAANXI PROVINCE, China) — An entirely new but long-extinct ape species has been discovered in an ancient tomb in central China.

The skull and jaw of the never-before-seen gibbon were found in Shaanxi province inside a royal burial chamber that was built some 2,300 years ago. The previously unknown genus and species of gibbon, which researchers have named Junzi imperialis, may be the first ape to have become extinct due to humans, according to a new study published in the journal Science on Friday.

“Our discovery and description of Junzi imperialis suggests that we are underestimating the impact of humans on primate diversity,” the study’s lead author, Samuel Turvey, said in a statement.

Zoological Society of London Handout/EPA via ShutterstockTurvey and other scientists, led by international conservation charity the Zoological Society of London, made the discovery while examining the contents of the tomb, which was first excavated in 2004 and contained 12 burial pits with animal remains. The team also uncovered the bones of black bears, cranes, leopards, lynx and a variety of domestic animals, the study found.

Researchers believe the burial chamber, and possibly the gibbon, may have belonged to Lady Xia, the grandmother of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang.

Zoological Society of London Handout/EPA via ShutterstockGibbons are the smallest apes, known for their loud, melodic songs and long arms, which they use to swing gracefully through the treetops. They were revered as regal primates in imperial China and were often kept as high-status pets, according to an article announcing the findings published in Science.

The Junzi imperialis was likely widespread in the region at the time and may have survived until the 18th century, just a few hundred years ago, the study says.

There are no gibbons in that area of China today. So the finding may indicate an unrecognized biodiversity of primates that thrived across Asia, according to the study.

There are more than a dozen recognized species of gibbons in present day, living in rain forests from northeast India to southern China and Indonesia, and many are considered to be endangered or critically endangered. All surviving Chinese species are currently classified as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species.

Researchers believe the eventual demise of the Junzi imperialis was a result of past human activities, which likely included deforestation and hunting.

All of the world’s apes are under threat of extinction due to human activities, according to the Zoological Society of London. But there has been no evidence of humans directly causing extinction among our relatives — until now.

“These findings reveal the importance of using historical archives such as the archaeological record to inform our understanding of conservation and stress the need for greater international collaboration to protect surviving populations of gibbons in the wild,” Turvey said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

New, long-extinct ape species found in ancient Chinese tomb

Posted on: June 22nd, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

An entirely new but long-extinct ape species has been discovered in an ancient tomb in central China.