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Visitors at the Atatürk Mausoleum
★ Turkey on November 10 commemorated the 79th anniversary of the death of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey, as people observed two minutes of silence during official and unofficial ceremonies across the country and abroad, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
During the official ceremony held at the Anıtkabir, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was among those to lay a wreath on Atatürk's resting place.
"We once again remember our first president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk," Mr. Erdoğan wrote in the book of commemoration.
"We are working day and night to bring Turkey to the level of contemporary civilizations. May his soul rest in peace," Mr. Erdoğan said.
People across the country marked the anniversary of Atatürk's death in other unique ways as well. In many cities, including Istanbul and Adana, human "chains of respect" stretching for miles were formed as people held hands to mark the 79th anniversary.
The chain of people in Turkey's southern city of Adana trailed 9 miles.
Atatürk was also remembered abroad. One of the places crowds gathered was his house of birth in Thessaloniki, Greece.
At the three-story building on Apostolou Pavlou Street, the Turkish Consul General addressed around 1,000 Turkish students who had gathered to pay their respects.
When Atatürk ws born in 1881, Thessaloniki was part of the Ottoman Empire before being taken by Greece in 1912.
Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, Atatürk led the Turkish War of Independence, which defeated European powers hoping to invade the crumbled empire. When he became president, Atatürk strived to transform the former emp ire into a modern, democratic and secular country.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım attended a commemoration ceremony at the New York consulate of Turkey.
★ Tesla chief executive Elon Musk visited Turkey this week.
According to the Hürriyet Daily News, he met with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Turkish capital Ankara on November 8 to discuss possible cooperation between Tesla, SpaceX and Turkish firms, as well as electric cars, presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın has said.
Musk was in Turkey to attend the Global SatShow, held in Istanbul on November 9
While in the Turkish capital, Elon Musk also visited Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's mausoleum where he laid a wreath. Musk later posted from the mausoleum to his histogram account. A photo said "I left the flowers. Three broken ribs, a pierced lung, and still he (meaning Atatürk) fought, for peace at home, peace in the world".
"Peace at home, peace in the world" was the motto of Atatürk. Commentators say that Musk is very familiar with the life and accomplishments of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Elon Musk's Instagram photograph of Atatürk's tomb: Read more at >> here <<
★ Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım was in the US this week.
According to the White House, on November 9 meeting with Turkish Prime Minister, Vice President Mike Pence expressed deep concern over the arrests of members of civil society in Turkey, urging transparency and due process in their cases, reports the Amnesty International.
Ten human rights activists, including İdil Eser, executive director of Amnesty Turkey, were arrested on baseless charges on July 5. Taner Kılıç, chair of Amnesty Turkey, was arrested a month earlier, Amnesty International writes.
★ Murat Yetkin of the Hürriyet Daily News also reported on the Turkish Prime Minister's US visit.
"The leaders expressed hope that their meeting would help to usher in a new chapter in U.S.-Turkey relations and agreed on the need for constructive dialogue, as friends and Allies, on bilateral challenges," the White House said in a statement following the Washington meeting on November 9.
The meeting, which lasted nearly an hour-and-a-half longer than scheduled, was "very fruitful," said Yıldırım, adding that the two countries decided to "maintain dialogue."
One of the issues discussed was the US support to Syrian Kurdish People's protection units which Turkey considers to be an extension of the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party in Turkey. The Turkish Prime Minister asked for the US support to cease. VP Pence said that cooperation with the Syrian Kurds would "only be short-term".
Ahead of Yıldırım's visit to the U.S., the two countries mutually decided to ease a visa crisis that emerged after the arrest of a Turkish-citizen employee of the U.S. Istanbul Consulate. Read more at >> here <<
Yıldırım downplayed the crisis, saying the issue was "returning to normal."
The suspension came after the arrest of U.S. staffer Metin Topuz, accused by police of having ties to the network of Fethullah Gülen, the top suspect in the cases into the July 2016 coup attempt. According to the Voice of America, Vice President Pence has expressed "deep concern" to Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım about the arrest of US citizens and Turkish local staff at US consulates in Turkey. Read more at >> here <<
On the other hand, Turkish Prime Minister asked US to take concrete steps to extradite Gülen to Turkey.
VP Pence thanked Yıldırım for Turkey's contributions to global security and the fight to defeat ISIL, and he underscored the U.S. commitment to stand with Turkey against the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party and other terrorist threats.
★ Turkey's increasingly fractious relations with some key Western allies are taking a growing financial toll amid investor concerns, analysts warn, Dorian Jones of the Voice of America reports.
The currency gyrations linked to diplomatic tensions are increasingly becoming the norm.
Foreign investors, attracted by relatively high Turkish interest rates, offering rare lucrative returns, had until now been largely indifferent to Turkey's diplomatic and political woes. With growing concerns, however, that Turkey's central bank is not doing enough to contain surging inflation running at a nine-year high, political risk is entering into investors' equations.
The Turkish economy depends heavily on overseas borrowing. Over the next 12 months, Turkey needs to renew $170 billion in loans.
However, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is increasingly using anti-West rhetoric to secure Nationalist voters for the upcoming elections in two years. This in turn could further unnerve foreign investors.
Turkish lira may then depreciate in excess of 20 to 25%.
★ Thousands of homes damaged during clashes between the security forces and Kurdish militants in Turkey's southeast will be rebuilt over the next six months, Environment and Urbanization Minister Mehmet Özhaseki said on November 9, reports the Anatolia News Agency. Read more at >> here <<
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
★ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has criticized the recent vow by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to make Saudi Arabia a bastion of "moderate Islam", reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
"Islam cannot be either 'moderate' or 'not moderate.' Islam can only be one thing," Mr.Erdoğan said in a speech at a program hosted in the Turkish capital Ankara by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on women's entrepreneurship on November 9.
President Erdoğan also blasted the organization for "obstructing" certain plans that Turkey wants to implement to support women's rights within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
★ Refugees in the southern Turkish province of Hatay have started returning to areas of northern Syria where the introduction of de-escalation zones has led to relative stability, Turkey's state-run Anatolia News Agency has reported.
Nearly 4,000 refugees returned to their homes in Idlib in the second half of October, with 1,000 more following suit in the first week of November.
The de-escalation zones were set up as part of an agreement reached in May in Kazakh capital Astana between Russia, Turkey and Iran, which serve as guarantor states for an earlier cease-fire agreement.
Mohamed Keyha, 55, fled to Hatay from his village in Idlib with his wife and two children almost four years ago.
"We decided to go back home after hearing the good news. I hope the Turkish soldiers do a good job there," Keyha said.
Over 3 million Syrians are currently living in Turkey.
★ According to the Associated Press, Turkish police have detained a number of people suspected of links to the Islamic State group, Turkey's official news agency said Friday.
Istanbul police conducted simultaneous operations at multiple districts to detain 82 foreigners. The suspects had allegedly been active in conflict zones with IS and planned on going to Syria.
The operations are part of Turkey's ramped up effort to clamp down on IS. Police also detained more than 170 IS suspects in a sweep in the capital Ankara on Thursday.
★ In Istanbul, shoppers at the popular retailer, Zara, were recently in for a shocking surprise. Attached to some of the clothing were tags that read, "I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn't get paid for it", reports Jasmine Garsd of the Public Radio International.
The tags were placed in collaboration with the Clean Clothes Campaign, which advocates against labor abuses. In this case, the organization represented workers who claimed they had not been paid for their work at the Bravo Tekstil factory, where several major European brands including Zara had been getting their clothing manufactured.
"The total amount is around $760 thousand. Which ... it sounds like quite a lot. But $760 thousand is about less than .01 percent of Zara's net sales in the first quarter of this year," said Dominique Muller. She's the policy director at Labor Behind the Label, the UK platform for the Clean Clothes Campaign.
Meanwhile, Zara's parent company, Inditex, says that it has kept its side of the contract with the Bravo Tekstil factory.
People protesting the arrests of the Cumhuriyet journalists
★ The European Court of Human Rights has rejected Turkey's request for additional time to submit its defense in cases against jailed daily Cumhuriyet journalists, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
Turkey's Justice Ministry, which had already twice asked the European Court of Human Rights to be granted additional time, was rejected after its third request, daily Cumhuriyet reported on November 9.
Analysts are saying that the ruling Justice and Development Party administration is arresting journalists in Turkey who are critical of the government with trumped up charges.
ARTS AND CULTURE
★ The Archaeology Museum, the first stage of the Adana Museum Complex, established in a century-old restored manufacturing plant, was opened to visitors in May and has received 47,000 people since its first day, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
The museum sheds light on the history of the Hittite, Assyrian , Ancient Greek, Roman, Seljuk and Ottoman periods in southern Turkey.
The southern province of Adana, positioned on the coast of the Mediterranean on the rich land between the Seyhan and Ceyhan rivers, is believed to have hosted 19 different civilizations since the ancient era.
Among the most significant artifacts on display are the stone sculpture of the Hittite Storm God Tarhun, a stele with the Anatolian hieroglyph inscription, Babylon stele, a bronze male sculpture removed from the sea in Adana's Karataş district, and the Roman-era Anthropoid Tomb and Achilles Tomb.
★ A Persian settlement unearthed in Turkey's northern province of Amasya will change the religious history of Anatolia, according to Istanbul University Archaeology Professor Şevket Dönmez, who has spent many years leading excavations at the Oluz Mound where the find was made.
Speaking to state-run Anatolia News Agency, Dönmez said they discovered the mound in 1999 during a surface survey and excavations have been ongoing since 2007.
Dönmez said that they had recently finished the 11th season of excavations and so far have delivered 1,030 artifacts from the Persian-era settlement to the museum.
"We have found a temple complex never previously seen in Anatolian archaeology. The temple is really original and provides information about the people who revered the element of fire, which is early Zoroastrianism. There is a holy room inside where fires were lit. There are also other rooms. Most importantly, we unearthed objects that were used in the temple," Dönmez said.
Some of the findings date back as far as 2,000 years before the emergence of Christianity
Founded by the Prophet Zoroaster in ancient Iran approximately 3,500 years ago, Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions.
★ We told you last week about the Istanbul book fair starting. Here is an update:
According to the Hürriyet Daily News, Thousands of Istanbulites and residents from other cities visited the 36th International Istanbul Book Fair, which opened on November 4 at the TÜYAP Fair Convention and Congress Center in Istanbul's Büyükçekmece district.
Long queues formed at the entrance of the congress center in the first two days after the official opening on November 4.
More than 800 Turkish and foreign publishers and nongovernmental organizations are taking part in this year's fair, which hosts more than 300 events including workshops for children, lectures by authors, and autograph sessions.
★ A blind man from Turkey's Black Sea region has forged a link to the visible world through pottery.
Olcay Aşçı, 22, is exhibiting his works for the first time since he began using ceramics as a way of expressing his relationship with the outside world.
Aşçı, who became blind when he was a baby and is also partially deaf, has modeled clay since he was a child in Akkuş, a town in the mountainous province of Ordu.
"My world is based on my perception of objects. I get to know things by touching them and I touch everything I can: products, fruits, boxes, signs, especially when I am in a queue in a shop," he told state-run Anatolia News Agency.
Although fashioning sculptures has provided an outlet for his imagination from an early age, it was not until he met Funda Altın, a fine arts associate professor at the Ordu University, that he began to explore his talent.
The opening of the exhibition at the city's art center welcomed many guests, including local blind people who were invited to handle the pieces.
★ The International İzmir Short Film Festival kicked off in the western Turkish province of İzmir on November 7, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
The festival will screen 400 films from 42 different countries for film lovers through November 12. Along with special film selections, the festival will also host workshops, exhibitions and events.
Actress Deniz Çakır, who will serve in the festival's National Competition jury this year, will also meet with festivalgoers in a talk during the festival.
The festival will host a special screening of Luis González's feature film "The Turkish Way" at the French Cultural Center in İzmir. The documentary tells the story of three chiefs from the El Celler de Can Roca, selected as the best restaurant in the world in 2015, who begin a gastronomic journey from Argentina and travel to Turkey.
★ Turkey's foreign-language Oscar nominee "Ayla" was selected as the best film with the votes of audiences at the International Asian Pacific Film Festival in Los Angeles between Oct. 25 and November 2.
"Ayla," which focuses on the relationship between a Turkish soldier and a Korean orphan during the Korean War, is hoping to be named among the top five films in the Oscars.
The film also recently received the award for best editing for Mustafa Presheva at the Cape Town International Film Festival.
Directed by Can Ulkay and produced by Mustafa Uslu, "Ayla" tells the story of Sergeant Süleyman, who finds an abandoned five-year-old girl in 1950 during the Korean War. It stars İsmail Hacıoğlu, Çetin Tekindor and Lee Kyung-Jin.
★ Woody Allen's latest movie Wonder Wheel is set to make its Turkey debut at the 5th International Bosporus film Festival which opens next Friday, reports the Anatolia News Agency.
The 1950's set drama, which stars Kate Winslet, Justin Timberlake, James Belushi, Juno Temple, Max Casella, Jack Gore and David Krumholtz, will be screened on November 18, 21 and 23.
A total of 107 movies from 39 countries will be shown at this year's festival.
★ Spanish artist Lido Rico is exhibiting in Istanbul, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
Hürriyet's Hatice Utkan Özden has a comprehensive article on the artist and the art gallery hosting the artists exhibiting.
According to Özden, the art works Rico s is only about humans and how modern times affect them the artist says. He aims to show the viewer their lives through his own experiences.
Rico's works can be seen at Istanbul's Ren Art Gallery.
★ In a list released on November 7 by market researcher Euromonitor International in London, four Turkish cities are among the top destinations for tourists in the world, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
According to the report, Hong Kong holds the title of the most visited city in the world for the eighth consecutive year, followed by Bangkok and London, which represents the most visited city in Europe and the only European city in the top 10 ranking, along with Paris.
Four Turkish cities appeared in the top 100 ranking: Istanbul, the Mediterranean resort of Antalya, the northwestern province of Edirne and the Black Sea province of Artvin.
Istanbul came 15th with over 9.2 million visitors in the list, Antalya 29th with over 6.1 million, Edirne 68th with almost 2.8 million and Artvin ranked 85th with almost 2.4 million.
★ Restaurateurs and cafe owners in one of Turkey's ancient cities, Hatay, are hoping the recent UNESCO award as the "City of Gastronomy," will offer a cash boost to the local economy.
The southeastern city of Hatay was among a handful of cities across the world recognized last week for its exceptional cuisine.
The region, bordered by the Mediterranean and Syria, is famous for its distinct food, which reflects the province's mixed Turkish and Arab history.
Sabahattin Nacioğlu, head of the Hatay Tourism Association, said Hatay's cuisine includes around 600 dishes that can be distinguished as originating from the region.
The city of Hatay, also known as Antakya, has been a tourist and pilgrimage destination for centuries. Founded by one of Alexander the Great's generals as Antioch, the city was one of the centers of early Christianity.
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 3.87
High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey: 55/36 Partly Cloudy
Antalya, on the Mediterranean: 73/55 Partly Cloudy
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey: 48/34 Partly Cloudy
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey: 61/52 Partly Cloudy
Izmir, on the Aegean: 70/50 Partly Cloudy
Trabzon, on the Black Sea: 61/54 Partly Cloudy
★ There are no games in the Turkish premier soccer league this week due to the national team match with Romania on Thursday.
The national team lost the game 2 to 0 against Romania. The Turkish and Romanian national teams played the game in the Romanian city of Cluj.
★ A man performed a BASE jump from the top of Istanbul's historic 67-meter tall Galata Tower on the morning of November 9, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
Cengiz Koçak, 44, jumped from the top of the tower with a rudimentary parachute, as part of an event organized by the European Outdoor Film Tour (EOFT).
Koçak staged the jump 385 years after the famous flight of Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi, credited with the first flight with artificial wings in the history of Ottoman Empire.
BASE jumping is parachuting or wingsuit flying from a fixed structure or cliff. "BASE" is an acronym that stands for four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: Building, antenna, span, and earth.
★ Tens of thousands of people will meet in Turkey's biggest city on November 12 to run the Istanbul Marathon, the world's only road race where people can cross from Asia to Europe.
The 39th Vodafone Istanbul Marathon will host not only elite world athletes but also Istanbul residents who just want to challenge themselves by running in one of the four categories: Marathon, 15K, 10K and the public run.
The marathon also provides the only legal chance for people to cross the iconic bridge on foot.
Istanbul Marathon has the only course which includes two continents, Asia and Europe, in one race.
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