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NATO: Turkey’s President Says No Support For Sweden’s NATO Bid

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ISTANBUL, Turkey — Following weekend protests in Stockholm by an anti-Islam activist and pro-Kurdish groups, Turkey’s president cast serious doubt on NATO’s expansion on Monday, warning Sweden not to expect support for its bid for membership in the military alliance.

On Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Rasmus Paludan’s Quran-burning protest, calling it an insult to everyone, especially Muslims. He was especially enraged at Swedish authorities for allowing the demonstration outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm to take place under “the protection” of security forces.

“Those who allowed such vileness to occur in front of our embassy can no longer expect any charity from us regarding their NATO membership application,” Erdogan said in his first remarks about the weekend protests, adding that Sweden must have calculated the consequences of allowing Paludan’s demonstration.

The burning of Islam’s holy book in Turkey infuriated people across the political spectrum, just as Sweden and Finland appeared on the verge of NATO membership after abandoning their long-standing policies of military nonalignment in the aftermath of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin now stands to benefit as the world’s most powerful military alliance’s potential expansion appears to be stalled.

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Sweden And Findland Bid For NATO

Erdogan also chastised Sweden for allowing pro-Kurdish protests in which demonstrators waved flags of various Kurdish groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has been fighting Turkey for decades. Although the PKK is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, the European Union, and the United States, its symbols are not prohibited in Sweden.

“So you will let terror organizations run wild on your avenues and streets and expect our support for getting into NATO. That is not going to happen,” Erdogan said, referring to Sweden and Finland’s bids to join the military alliance. He stated that if Sweden does not respect NATO member Turkey or Muslims, “they will not see any support from us on the NATO issue.”

A joint memorandum signed in June by Turkey, Sweden, and Finland averted a Turkish veto of their NATO membership bid at the Madrid summit, where they recognized the PKK as a terrorist organization and committed to preventing its activities. Protests have enraged Ankara, which has stated that Sweden must address Turkey’s security concerns and demand that the Turkish parliament ratifies their NATO request.

“If they love terrorists and Islamophobes so much, we recommend that they entrust their countries’ security to them,” he added. On Saturday, several hundred pro-Kurdish protestors walked over a photograph of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and an Erdogan effigy was hung from a lamppost in a previous protest. In response, Turkish officials canceled bilateral meetings.

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Swedish Constitution Guarantees Freedom Of Expression

Swedish officials have emphasized that the Swedish Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and gives people broad rights to express themselves publicly, though incitement to violence or hate speech is not permitted. Demonstrators must apply to the police for a public gathering permit. Only in exceptional circumstances, such as threats to public safety, can police deny such permits. Top Swedish officials have stated that freedom of expression is critical to democracy while criticizing Paludan’s actions as disrespectful and ones with which they disagree.

Paludan, a Danish and Swedish citizen, founded far-right parties in both countries that have failed to win any seats in national, regional, or municipal elections. In Sweden’s parliamentary election last year, his party received only 156 votes nationwide. Over the weekend, protesters in Turkey burned his photograph and a Swedish flag in response to his burning of the Quran.

SOURCE – (AP)

 

 

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Iranian Official Warns Israel That Its Embassies Are Not Safe After Deadly Damascus Strike

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JERUSALEM — A top Iranian military adviser warned Israel on Sunday that none of its embassies were secure following last week’s strike in Damascus, which killed two elite Iranian generals. As Israel’s battle against Hamas enters its sixth month, regional tensions threaten to plunge the Middle East into a larger confrontation.

The statements of Gen. Rahim Safavi, a military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, suggested that the attack on a diplomatic mission would be met with a similar response. They have not explicitly admitted its involvement.

“None of the (Israeli) regime’s embassies are safe anymore,” Safavi told the semi-official Tasnim news agency. He spoke at a ceremony in Tehran honoring the generals slain in the strike that destroyed an Iranian consulate building.

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Iranian Official Warns Israel That Its Embassies Are Not Safe After Deadly Damascus Strike

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the country was prepared for any response. “Whoever harms us or plans to harm us, we will harm them,” he warned a Cabinet gathering.

The regional tensions erupted six months into the war, which began when Hamas-led militants infiltrated from Gaza into the country, killing 1,200 people, the majority of whom were civilians, and kidnapping approximately 250 others. They replied with a severe bombardment and ground offensive that killed over 33,000 Palestinians, most of whom were women and children, according to local health authorities.

Also on Sunday, the military stated that it was withdrawing forces from the 98th Paratroopers Division, which had been operating in the Khan Younis area of southern Gaza, lowering Israeli troop levels in Gaza to some of their lowest since the conflict began. The Hamas stronghold has been the primary target of Israel’s offensive in recent months.

The forces retreated to rest and prepare for future operations, but a considerable number remain in Gaza, according to military sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The country keeps troops in damaged northern Gaza and can send them south as needed. Israel has declared a ground offensive against Rafah, the southernmost Gaza city and Hamas’ last stronghold. However, the area houses around 1.4 million people, representing more than half of Gaza’s population. The threat of an offensive has sparked global concern, particularly from key partners, the United States, which has demanded a credible strategy to protect civilians.

The six-month mark of the war has been met with growing discontent in Israel, where anti-government protests have erupted, and resentment is rising over what some Israelis regard as the government’s failure to assist in rescuing the remaining around 130 hostages, about a fifth of whom claims are dead.

Negotiations for a cease-fire in exchange for the hostages’ release will likely restart in Cairo on Sunday. An Israeli delegation led by the head of the Mossad intelligence agency was scheduled to leave for Cairo, according to an Israeli official who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the topic with the press.

israel Damascus

Iranian Official Warns Israel That Its Embassies Are Not Safe After Deadly Damascus Strike

“Israel is prepared for a deal; Israel is not prepared to surrender,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated. “Instead of the international pressure being directed at Israel, which is only causing Hamas to harden its positions, the pressure of the international community needs to be directed at Hamas.”

The pressure to act has increased.

“This does not appear to be a war against terrorism. This no longer appears to be a war fought to defend Israel. Chef Jose Andres told ABC that this appears to be a battle on humanity itself, just days after an Israeli bombardment murdered seven of his World Central Kitchen colleagues in Gaza. Aid deliveries along a critical new sea route to the area were halted.

The United Nations and its allies have warned of “imminent famine” for more than 1 million people in Gaza, as humanitarian workers ask the country to ease restrictions on assistance delivery overland, the only option to meet rising demands as some Palestinians scavenge for weeds to eat.

Mothers who have given birth in Gaza since the conflict started are particularly susceptible.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, the bodies of 38 persons killed in Israel’s shelling have been transferred to the territory’s remaining functional hospitals during the last 24 hours. According to reports, 71 people were injured and sent to hospitals.

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Iranian Official Warns Israel That Its Embassies Are Not Safe After Deadly Damascus Strike

The ministry reported that 33,175 people had been murdered since the war began. The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants but claims two-thirds of those killed are children and women. A further 75,886 people have been wounded.

Israel’s military continues to suffer fatalities, particularly in Khan Younis, where four troops were killed in combat with extremists.

According to Israel’s administration, more than 600 Israeli soldiers have been killed since October 7, with 260 killed in the Gaza ground operation.

source – ap

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Dutch Police Have Detained Activist Greta Thunberg At A Climate Demonstration In The Hague

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The Hague, Netherlands — Greta Thunberg, a climate activist, was among dozens of individuals detained by police in The Hague on Saturday as they cleared a partially blocked route.

Thunberg was observed flashing a victory sign as she sat in a police bus transporting arrested activists from the scene of a protest against Dutch subsidies and tax incentives for companies tied to the fossil fuel industry.

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Dutch Police Have Detained Activist Greta Thunberg At A Climate Demonstration In The Hague

The Extinction Rebellion campaign group stated before the rally that the activists would block a major roadway into The Hague; however, a large police presence, including cops on horseback, initially prevented the activists from entering the road.

A small group of individuals managed to sit down on another road and were detained after refusing police demands to evacuate.

Extinction Rebellion protestors have blocked the roadway by the Dutch parliament’s temporary headquarters more than 30 times in protest of the subsidies.

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Dutch Police Have Detained Activist Greta Thunberg At A Climate Demonstration In The Hague

The marchers waved flags and shouted, “We are unstoppable, another world is possible.”

One carried a poster that read, “This is a dead-end street.”

A London court found Thunberg, 21, not guilty in February for defying a police order to leave a protest that was blocking the entrance to a significant oil and gas industry conference the previous year.

Since beginning weekly protests outside the Swedish parliament in 2018, her action has inspired a global youth movement demanding more efforts to combat climate change.

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Dutch Police Have Detained Activist Greta Thunberg At A Climate Demonstration In The Hague

She has been punished multiple times in Sweden and the United Kingdom for civil disobedience during protests.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Biden Is Touring Collapsed Baltimore Bridge Where Recovery Effort Has Political Overtones

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Washington — President Joe Biden is due to see firsthand attempts to remove the huge remnants of Baltimore’s fallen Francis Scott Key Bridge on Friday as cranes, ships, and dive crews strive to reopen one of the country’s main commerce lanes.

Biden will receive briefings from the United States Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers. On March 26, a sizable cargo ship struck and destroyed the bridge while eight laborers, all of whom were immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador, were patching potholes on it. Two guys were saved, but only two of the six people who perished have been found.

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Biden Is Touring Collapsed Baltimore Bridge Where Recovery Effort Has Political Overtones

The president intends to meet with the families of the victims.

Officials have developed a temporary, alternate lane for debris-removal vessels. According to the White House, the Army Corps of Engineers hopes to open a limited-access route for barge cargo ships and certain vessels transporting vehicles and farm equipment by the end of this month, with normal capacity restored to Baltimore’s port by May 31.

That is significant because more delays in reopening shipping lanes could send shockwaves across the economy. Baltimore’s port handles up to $200 million daily cargo and is the primary hub for automotive imports and exports.

Covering the price of cleanup and construction of a new bridge may be a more pressing worry.

The Federal Highway Administration has allocated $60 million in “quick release” emergency relief funding to get things underway. The exact cost of the collapse is unknown, but some experts predict it will cost at least $400 million and take 18 months to recover.

Within hours of the collapse, Biden stated, “the federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge, and I expect Congress to support my effort.” Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Dan Meuser termed the commitment made so soon after the catastrophe “outrageous,” telling Fox News Channel, “The first reaction, in fact the only reaction, tends to be to spend.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was more sympathetic to Biden’s request, comparing the bridge collapse to the help that follows natural disasters and stating that “the federal government will step up and do the lion’s share” of funding. However, obtaining authority in Congress is a challenging task.

The White House stated Friday that it would recommend that Congress authorize the federal government to bear 100% of the expenses of cleaning up and rebuilding the fallen bridge rather than requesting cash through a separate, emergency supplemental request.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young stated that similar techniques were used for recovery and rebuilding efforts that received bipartisan congressional support in 2007, when a highway bridge in downtown Minneapolis collapsed during evening rush hour, killing 13 people.

“We are asking Congress to join us in demonstrating our commitment to aid in recovery efforts,” Young wrote, though it is unknown how much money the government will require to cover the expenditures.

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Biden Is Touring Collapsed Baltimore Bridge Where Recovery Effort Has Political Overtones

However, much has changed in the last 17 years, and advocating for bipartisan support may be more difficult today.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus published a statement on Friday stating, “If it proves necessary to appropriate taxpayer money to get one of America’s busiest ports back online, Congress should ensure it is fully offset and that burdensome regulations” are waived. It referred to future government expenditure cuts and restrictions such as the Endangered Species Act.

The caucus’ letter also urged that approval for bridge rehabilitation money be contingent on the Biden administration agreeing to relax a moratorium on liquified natural gas exports.

The funding problems only heighten the collapse’s political consequences, as Biden will face former President Donald Trump in the November election.

It is the second catastrophic accident in the country’s key northeastern corridor in as many years. Last summer, an overpass on Interstate 95 near Philadelphia caught fire and collapsed after a tanker truck collided with it. Federal and state officials worked rapidly on temporary repairs, and the route reopened earlier than projected.

However, the cleanup and restorations in Baltimore will take much longer and cost much more, making the chances of it being a net electoral gain for Biden — especially in time for Election Day — far less likely.

That has kept the Biden administration from reintroducing a $1 trillion-plus public works program that passed Congress in 2021.

“Let’s not forget, infrastructure law will now deal with infrastructure in a generation,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated this week. She compared this with the Trump administration, which made the issue “into a joke” by repeatedly promising to win infrastructure funds but achieving “absolutely nothing.”

biden

Biden Is Touring Collapsed Baltimore Bridge Where Recovery Effort Has Political Overtones

The bridge collapse has also brought Maryland’s Democratic Gov. Wes Moore, 45, to national attention as a key figure in Biden’s reelection campaign’s drive to mobilize young voters supporting the 81-year-old president.

The president has toured nationwide, demonstrating highway, bridge, and tunnel development projects. In 2022, he appeared at an event in Pittsburgh a few hours after a neighboring bridge collapsed. Promoting the public works package has also allowed the president to tap into his passion for rail travel, which he used to commute to and from Washington on Amtrak when a Delaware senator.

Last week, Biden stated that the Key Bridge was one that “I’ve been over many, many times commuting.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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