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Istanbul Contrasts, FARC Referendum, Melania Mimics


Taksim Square is both symbolic and convenient: Flat in the middle of the bustle of Istanbul, it can serve as a meeting point for locals and tourists — and protesters. It is where many of the most ardent supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gathered after tanks took control of the streets Friday night, and where they even found secularists normally opposed to Erdogan's Islamist rule standing with them against the coup attempt.

But this alliance of convenience is bound not to last. Writing in left-wing Istanbul daily Sozcu, Bekir Coskun notes the contrast between Erdogan's crowd that took to the streets to celebrate "the victory for democracy" and the crowd that three summers ago demanded Erdogan's resignation during the Gezi Park protests, just off of Taksim Square. "Neither your ‘uprising' nor your ‘democratic victory' makes sense," Coskun writes. "Because there is no room for bullets in our ‘uprising.' Instead, there are songs, poems, humor and flowers."

How this weekend's failed coup plays out for Erdogan and the future of Turkey remains to be seen. But the initial burst of unity is indeed quickly fading, notes Turkish scholar Kutlu Yildizhan in the Istanbul daily Cumhuriyet: "To be opposed to the Islamist government for any reason or to criticize them or to even suggest an alternative to their way of governance has become enough to be labeled a traitor." For leaders who are eager to talk about values, it seems the value that matters most in Turkey right now is loyalty.


  • IOC meets to decide on Russian Olympic sanctions.
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At least 26 people, including 24 from mainland China and two from Taiwan, were killed today when a tour bus caught fire in Taiwan's Taoyuan city, Focus Taiwan reports. The fire broke out after the vehicle crashed into a road barrier while on its way to the airport.


A 17-year-old Afghan asylum seeker injured four people from Hong Kong, including two seriously, when he attacked passengers last night on a train with an axe in Wurzburg, in southern Germany, Die Welt reports. The attacker was shot dead by police as he tried to flee. A hand-painted ISIS flag was later found in the room of the teenager.


For Turkish daily Hürriyet, Melis Alphan recounts and reflects on Friday night's failed coup, and the mob mentality left in its wake: "So we survived the coup attempt, but so quickly an atmosphere of lynching and its Islamic formations scare me. I'm afraid how mob psychology can take over the law and ethics of civic life, and how this is being tolerated. While I celebrate the failure of the coup attempt for the sake of democracy, I'm shocked in the face of those who are not saddened by this flourishing lynching culture."

Read the full article, Turkey's Failed Coup And The Rise Of A "Lynching Culture".


North Korea fired three new ballistic missiles into the sea off its eastern coast early this morning, the South Korean Yonhap news agency quotes officials as saying. This comes less than two weeks after U.S. and South Korean forces announced they would deploy an advanced anti-missile system to counter Pyongyang threats.


Speaking the Republican Convention, Donald Trump's wife Melania has been accused of plagiarizing a speech delivered by current First Lady Michelle Obama to the Democratic National Convention in 2008. CNN reports that entire sentences, about the importance of working hard, respect and dignity can be found almost word-for-word in both speeches.


The Colombian Constitutional Court has approved a measure to hold a national referendum on the peace agreement that was recently signed between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), after four years of talks and a half-century of civil war. See how Colombian daily El Espectador featured the news on today's front page.


The six richest countries (the United States, China, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom), hosted only 9% of the world's refugees last year, a report published by the international human rights organization Oxfam yesterday says. These same countries make up more than half of the global economy.


Corsican Siesta — Bonifacio, 1969


A Baltimore judge acquitted yesterday the highest-ranking police officer involved in last year's death of Freddie Gray, a black detainee who died after suffering a broken neck in the back of a police van, The Baltimore Sun reports. Prosecutors have failed to secure a conviction in the trials of four officers involved in the death of the 25-year-old.


From the Paris Metro to Mad Men, here's your 57-second shot of History!


"AIDS is still the number two cause of death for those aged 10-19 globally — and number one in Africa," the Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Anthony Lake said in a speech on the opening day of the international conference on the virus yesterday in Durban, South Africa. "Despite remarkable global progress in tackling the HIV/AIDS pandemic, much work remains to be done to protect children and adolescents from infection, sickness and death," he also said, according to Jeune Afrique.



Need space for all those upcoming selfies on the beach? Dutch researchers say they have created an atomic hard drive that can store 500 times more data than current hard drives.

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Iran's War On Abortion Rights, A Toxic Mix Of Theocracy And Demographic Panic

Ending a pregnancy has become a major complication, and a crime, for Iranian women who cannot or will not have children in a country wracked by socio-economic woes and a leadership.

photo of a young child surrounded by women in chadors

Iran's government wants to boost the birth rate at all costs

Office of Supreme Leader/ZUMA
Firoozeh Nordstrom

Keen to boost the population, Iran's Islamic regime has reversed its half-hearted family planning policies of earlier years and is curbing birth control with measures that include banning abortion.

Its (2021) Law to Support the Family and Rejuvenate the Population (Qanun-e hemayat az khanevadeh va javani-e jam'iyat) threatens to fine the women who want to abort, and fine, imprison, and dismiss the performing physician, if the pregnancy is not deemed to be life-threatening. The law also bans contraceptives.

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The measures are in line with the dictates of Iran's Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. He was already denouncing birth control policies by 2018-19, though conservative elements among Iran's rulers have always dismissed birth control as a piece of Western corruption.

Today, measures to boost families include land and credit incentives for young couples, but it is difficult to say how far they will counter a marked reluctance among Iranians to marry and procreate. Kayhan-London had an online conversation with individuals affected by the new rules in Iran.

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