In The News

Omicron Reinfection Rates, Abortion To Supreme Court, Battleaxosaurus

👋 Håfa adai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where new Omicron findings arrive from South Africa, abortion rights are at risk at the U.S. Supreme Court and Tyrannosaurus rex has got some new competition. From Germany, we share the story of a landmark pharmacy turned sex toy museum.
Watch Video Show less

Poopgate: Is Beloved Istanbul Street Dog Caught In Turkey’s Political Dirty Tricks?

Boji the dog was giving a good image to Istanbul's public transportation system. Some wonder if opponents of the mayor exercised the canine nuclear option...

Boji, a street dog in Istanbul, has garnered national and international acclaim in recent weeks for his ability to navigate the Turkish megapolis all on his own — commuting on the metro, riding ferries and even taking elevators.

According to Getty Images photographer Chris McGrath, who followed him around the city, Boji loves riding the city's trams and trains. The dog's name comes from the word "bogie" ("boji" in Turkish), the framework of a vehicle that houses the wheel and axle, since his favorite spot is sitting on top of the bogie and feeling the vibrations of the engine.

Keep reading... Show less

Sudan Prime Minister Reinstated, Peng Shuai’s Call, No Shuffling Adele

👋 မင်္ဂလာပါ!*

Welcome to Monday, where Sudan's ousted prime minister has been reinstated after a deal with the military, Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai says she is safe and well in a video call and a Venezuelan orchestra sets a new world record. We also look at the sons of two of the 20th century's most ruthless strongmen now running for president.

[*Mingalabar - Burmese]

Keep reading... Show less

The Stakes Of A Ukrainian-Russian Drone Arms Race

A recent unmanned attack could heighten tensions in the conflict zone and have broader geopolitical consequences.

Last week Vladimir Putin complained that even without accepting Kyiv into its ranks, NATO could place missiles in Ukraine near Russia's borders. Russian media was quick to help prove Putin's point, writing about Washington's current military aid to Kyiv, Ukraine's talks with London on obtaining British Brimstone missiles and Turkish drones in Donbas, which has been a disputed site of conflict since 2014.

Just days later, the Ukrainian military for the first time used the Turkish Bayraktar TB-2 drone in Donbas. The incident Tuesday could seriously change the situation in the conflict zone and have consequences for both Russian-Ukrainian and Russian-Turkish relations.

Keep reading... Show less
Society
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Roe v. Wade And Beyond: The Battle For Abortion Rights Around The World

As many look to an imminent threat to abortion rights in the U.S., there are changes afoot around the world, from strict new bans and more subtle means for limiting access to surprising progress elsewhere for women's right to choose.

PARIS — While Roe v. Wade cemented abortion access in the United States almost 50 years ago, the pro-life fight to overturn the landmark legislation has long kept the United States in the global spotlight in the debate over reproductive healthcare.

A recent Texas law banning the procedure once cardiac activity is detected (about six weeks into pregnancy) has resulted in an 80% reduction in abortions in the country's second-largest state. Now, as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on November 1 to determine whether the federal government has the right to sue over the law, it's an opportune moment to also look at the status of legal abortions around the world.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Carolina Drüten and Gregor Schwung

Erdogan And Boris Johnson: A New Global Power Duo?

As Turkey fears the EU closing ranks over defense, Turkish President Erdogan is looking to Boris Johnson as a post-Brexit ally, especially as Angela Merkel steps aside. This could undermine the deal where Ankara limits refugee entry into Europe, and other dossiers too.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — According to the Elysée Palace, the French presidency "can't understand" why Turkey would overreact, since the defense pact that France recently signed in Paris with Greece is not aimed at Ankara. The agreement covers billions of euros' worth of military equipment, and the two countries have committed to come to each other's aid if they are attacked.

Although Paris denies this, it is difficult to see the agreement as anything other than a message, perhaps even a provocation, targeted at Turkey.
Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Kayhan-London

Iran-Azerbaijan Tensions: How Khamenei Overplayed Islamic Ties

Azerbaijan's flourishing ties with Turkey and Israel threaten Iran's regional trade and strategic security after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei overestimated his ability to woo Azerbaijan leader, Ilham Aliev, because both nations are predominantly Shia Muslim.

-Analysis-

Iran's Revolutionary Guards have sent armored and artillery units for maneuvers Friday close to the Islamic Republic's northern border with the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Christian Putsch

Ethiopia's Civil War: Ethnic Atrocities Recall Balkans

Reports of torture, murder and gang rape are emerging from the civil war in northern Ethiopia. The conflict has spread across the country and an imminent collapse seems likely, spreading across the region. Now Turkey is also getting involved.

The news reaching the international community from the civil war in Ethiopia is deeply shocking. According to Amnesty International, many women in the Tigray region, where fighting is ongoing, say they have been imprisoned for weeks and gang-raped multiple times, sometimes in the presence of family members. They say some of the perpetrators assaulted them with nails and rocks.

These accusations are overwhelmingly directed at Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers who are fighting the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) for power in Ethiopia's northernmost state. At first, the Ethiopian government dismissed the accusations as "propaganda," but now the Ministry of Women's Affairs admits there is "no doubt" that rapes have taken place.

Watch Video Show less
Turkey
Catherine Chatignoux

It's Only Getting Harder To Be A Syrian Refugee In Turkey

The four million Syrians living in Turkey were already facing great difficulties, and the pandemic only made their lives more uncertain. But there's another truth they know must face.

GAZIANTEP — The lives of Adnan, Yasmin, Ajib and Muhammed, Syrian refugees settled in Turkey, was already a long, long hardship. When the coronavirus arrived, hardship turned into devastation.

While refugees in Lebanon and Syria are housed and fed in camps, the millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey are integrated within major cities and suburbs, and must find work. These families — which rarely have fewer than four children — live on a single daily salary, usually in the construction, agriculture or small businesses sectors. With COVID-19, these opportunities have become scarce, plunging entire families into destitution.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Klaus Geiger

Austria, A Laboratory For Hard-Line Policies On Islam

Heated debate over an 'Islam Map' is drawing new attention to the center-right government's aggressive policy, which some in Germany now see as a model.

VIENNA — The colorfully playful facade of the Hundertwasser Museum is hard to miss. Instead, just around the corner in Vienna's Weißgerberviertel neighborhood is another building that you might never notice. Behind the gray door of the house is the Tuna Mosque. It is one of hundreds of small, inconspicuous mosques, as they tend to be in Austria, similar to those in Germany. Often, only members know where they are, and what is preached there.

The mosque in Vienna's Weißgerberviertel is one of more than 600 points on an online map that has recently gotten lots of attention in Austria. The government of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has presented an "Islam map" that should give an overview of as many of the country's Muslim institutions as possible.

Watch Video Show less
Germany
Daniel-Dylan Böhmer and Clemens Wergin

Why Putin And Erdogan Are Both Going After Germany's Greens

On the Internet, Russian trolls are attacking the top candidate of the German Greens in the worst possible way. Attacks on Annalena Baerbock and other Green politicians also come from Turkey. Behind this is the concern about a green foreign policy.

BERLIN — By the time Annalena Baerbock had been tapped to be the Green party candidate for chancellor, she had already made clear her critical position on Russia. She'd lambasted the Russian troops on the Ukrainian border and demanded a reversal of support for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Rising to the top of the Greens ticket, Baerbock began receiving targeted attacks across social media.

Among them was a purported nude photo of the politician, which in reality showed a Russian nude model who resembles Baerbock. There were also campaigns that tried to tie her to a left-wing world conspiracy in alliance with the billionaire George Soros. Initially, the Greens had considered these violent personal attacks against Baerbock were part of a pattern of misogyny.

Watch Video Show less
WHAT THE WORLD
Bertrand Hauger

Why Did The Turkey Go To The Dentist's? It Was Mating Season

Some may find this story a little hard to gobble.

There's an old joke that goes: "Why did the turkey go to the dentist's? To get its cavity filled…"

Well, one particular Californian wild turkey went for real last Wednesday with no plans for getting stuffed, nor for having a laugh. The remarkably large and — as the Sacramento Bee journalist ventures — "very confused" bird crashed through the window of the waiting room at an oral surgeon's office in Fair Oaks, just east of Sacramento, and proceeded to destroy much of the premises.

Watch Video Show less
Greece
Rémy Ourdan

Over Greece's Kastellorizo Island, Erdogan's Shadow Looms

The easternmost island of the Dodecanese archipelago is just a stone's throw from the coast of Turkey, where the president's neo-Ottoman rhetoric is cause for concern.

KASTELLORIZO — There is no indication that the horseman Giorgis, who struck down the famous dragon in Lydda with a single blow of his sword or spear, ever stopped in Kastellorizo during his adventurous life. And yet, the name of the man who became Saint George for the Christians is found everywhere in Kastellorizo — or Megisti, as the Greek island is known to locals.

The monastery bears his name, as do churches and even some boats. Evoking the name of the patron saint of knights, it would seem, is a kind of plea for protection. These days, there are no dragons, of course, trying to harm the easternmost island in the the Dodecanese archipelago. But the inhabitants of Kastellorizo do live in the shadow of another threat, one that goes by the name of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

COVID-19 Stirs Prison Policy Around The World

Social distancing, disinfecting common areas and accessing health care: All three key tactics for curbing the spread of coronavirus are particularly complicated inside jails and prisons. While it might seem like an already self-isolating bubble, life inside prisons has changed dramatically since COVID-19 arrived. In an effort to keep healthy, many have lost their rights to socialize, make extra money through jobs and receive visitors. At the same time, many are looking at the option of releasing some prisoners as a way to alleviate overcrowding and limit the spread of the virus. Here are examples of how some countries are taking on the issue:

Releasing & Escaping: Countries like Iran and Turkey have responded by releasing tens of thousands of minor offenders to increase space in prisons, but also raising the question of why so many need to be jailed in the first place. While in Brazil, prison riots led to mass escapes from dirty, inhuman facilities. The last few months have shown how a highly infectious disease can exasperate exploitive systems where human rights abuses are engrained. Along with momentum from the Black Lives Matter movement, there are now global calls for criminal justice reform, from interactions with police to incarceration to reintegrating into society.

Watch Video Show less
BBC

The Latest: Sinovac Greenlight, Belarus Court Drama, Comrade Seagal

Welcome to Wednesday, where a second Chinese vaccine gets WHO's greenlight, Sri Lanka faces its worst maritime disaster ever and an asparagus recipe makes its way into a Belgian legal decree. Meanwhile, our latest edition of Work → In Progress takes the pulse of the work-life balance in a fully-vaccinated future.

• COVID travel system begins in EU: Seven European countries have started issuing COVID-19 passports for their citizens and accepting them for visitors who have been fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization approves the Sinovac vaccine for emergency use, the second Chinese vaccine to receive the green light.

• First human bird flu case in China: A 41-year old man in Eastern China is the first human to have contracted the rare bird flu strain, H10N3. Health officials believe it was a case of "accidental cross-species transmission", and assure the public that the risk for community transmission remains low.

• Cyber attack targets world's largest meat supplier: A serious cyber attack has hit JBS, halting production at several U.S. based meat processing plants. JBS reported to the Biden Administration that the attack is likely attributable to a Russian criminal group.

• African Union suspends Mali: Following a second military coup in nine months, the African Union has suspended Mali's membership and warned of possible sanctions if "normal constitutional order" isn't restored. Meanwhile, the country's coup leaders have appointed Choguel Kokalla Maïga as new prime minister.

• Belarus opposition activist stabs himself in court: Stepan Latypov, a critic and outspoken activist against the Lukashenko regime, attempted to slit his own throat during a court hearing. The apparent suicide attempt came directly after Latypov alleged he had been tortured and that his family and neighbors faced prosecution if he refused to plead guilty.

• Ecological disaster off Sri Lanka: The Singapore-registered cargo ship, MV X-Press Pearl, carrying containers, chemicals, and cosmetics, is now sinking off Sri Lanka's west coast after first catching fire two weeks ago.

• Steven Seagal joins pro-Kremlin party: A longtime friend of Vladimir Putin, the Hollywood actor has now officially joined the political party: "A Just Russia – Patriots – For Truth."

Watch Video Show less
food / travel
Bertrand Hauger

Hello, Troglodyte Neighbor

I've shared photos before of a trip to central Turkey's Göreme National Park, with its troglodyte cave-like dwellings and fairy chimney rock formations. Only recently did I dig up this image from a visit a few years earlier, and was reminded of how strange and powerful the landscape is.

EXPLORE OTHER TOPICS