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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 16 December 2017

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 16 December 2017]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ Turkey has slammed U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster for stating that Turkey and Qatar have become "the main sponsors" of extremist Islamic ideologies targeting the West.

  A Turkish statement came after McMaster accused Turkey and Qatar of funding extremist Islamic ideologies during a panel held at a think tank in Washington on December 12. McMaster serves as the national security advisor of President Donald Trump.

  McMaster reportedly referred to Saudi Arabia's support for some of these organizations "decades ago" but singled out Qatar and Turkey as main supporters at present.

  He also argued that Turkey had "drifted from the West" under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

  Turkey's Foreign Affairs Ministry statement reiterated that Ankara "continues to see the U.S. as a friend and ally," expressing its expectation of the same behavior from the Washington administration.

  The statement also repeated Turkey's demand from the U.S. to stop its support to the People's Protection Units (YPG) of Syrian Kurds, while stressing Turkey's "continued fight against terrorism and radicalism."

  Turkey considers the YPG as a terrorist organization because of its links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party of the rebel Turkish Kurds, while the U.S. regards it as a vital partner in the fight against ISIL.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ National Public Radio's All Things Considered program carried an interview with the New York Times reporter Ben Weiser on the ongoing trial of a Turkish banker in New York. The interview says that the star witnesses have testified that the scheme of a Turkish-Iranian gold trader charged with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran was broader, and possibly involved the Turkish President.

  The headline of the interview is: The trial is "riveting the Turkish government".

  It added that President Erdoğan considers the case a US plot to hurt Turkey's economy.

  The full interview is >> here <<

★ Speaking of the trial in New York, a former Turkish police officer took to the stand this week. The officer was jailed in Turkey for being part of an investigation on corruption of high-ranking Justice and Development Party officials, their family members and associates. He was also accused of being a follower of Pennsylvania based cleric Fethullah Gülen. Fethullah Gülen and his followers thought to be behind the 2016 failed coup.

  The officer eventually ran away from Turkey and made contact with FBI officials who brought them to the US. He brought with him copies of the evidence collected during the corruption investigation. Some of the evidence is directly linked to the New York trial.

  Turkey's justice minister Mr. Abdülhamit Gül told his US counterpart that the officer is wanted in Turkey and asked for his extradition. Mr. Gül said that the trial could damage relations between the two countries irreparably if actions are not taken.

★ Leaders of majority Muslim nations gathered in Istanbul Wednesday and condemned President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as unlawful, Dorian Jones of the Voice of America reports. The meeting came as unrest in the Middle East continues, along with growing criticism over the Jerusalem move.

  The gathering was under the auspices of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, OIC. Turkey currently leads the OIC and the emergency summit was called by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Mr. Erdoğan wants to appear as the leader of the Islamic world, analysts say.

  Wednesday's summit gives the Turkish president a world stage at a time when he has been facing growing isolation from some of his traditional allies, Dorian Jones writes.

  Read more at >> here <<
★ Istanbul police on December 11 seized a total of 1,725 tubes containing cobra venom smuggled from Syria, with a market value of approximately $7.8 million, reports Çetin Aydın of the Hürriyet Daily News. This amount is reported to be the highest amount ever seized in a raid in Turkey.

  Cobra venom is used in various industries, including medicine, chemistry, cosmetics and weapons. Considered to be the world's second most expensive venom after scorpion toxin, cobra venom is produced in limited amounts in Turkey.

★ Turkish American Dr. Asu Özdağlar, the Joseph F. and Nancy P. Keithley Professor of Engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been named the new head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). The EECS Department is the largest academic unit at MIT. It currently enrolls 1,297 undergraduate majors and 916 graduate students.

  Dr. Özdağlar is best known for her contributions in the areas of optimization theory, economic and social networked systems, and game theory. Her contributions to optimization theory range from convex analysis and duality to distributed and incremental algorithms for large scale systems and data processing. A large part of her research also focuses on integrating analysis of social and economic interactions into the study of networks. Her contributions to game-theory include learning dynamics and computation of Nash equilibria.

  In October 2014, she became director of the Laboratory for Information and Decisions Systems (LIDS) and associate director of the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS). She is also a recipient of the prestigious Donald P. Eckman Award from the American Automatic Control Council, and she is the inaugural recipient of the Steven and Renee Finn Faculty Research Innovation Fellowship at MIT. Dr. Özdağlar received her Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey in 1996 and MS and PhD degrees in electrical engineering an computer science from MIT in 1998 and 2003.

Read more  >> here <<
★ Turkish prosecutors have taken another step toward the prosecution and possible jailing of the country's main opposition leader, Dorian Jones of the Voice of America reports. On Thursday, Ankara prosecutors announced they had prepared their case against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu , head of the Republican People's Party and called for the lifting of his parliamentary immunity.

  The Republican People's Party responded by criticizing the ruling party and Turkey's president.

  "[The] Justice and Development Party, and most importantly, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is different from the parties in the past. It has no tolerance against being criticized heavily and this intolerance is reflected in the indictment written by the prosecutors," said deputy Republican People's Party head Sezgin Tanrikulu.

  Kılıçdaroğlu is being prosecuted for his criticism of Erdoğan over this year's controversial referendum to extend presidential powers that was narrowly passed amid accusations of vote-rigging.

  The last few weeks have seen the opposition leader increasingly targeted by the president and others in government.

  Kılıçdaroğlu had been largely dismissed by the ruling Justice and Development Party as irrelevant and ineffectual. Last month, however, he accused President Erdoğan and his family of transferring large amounts of money to offshore bank accounts. Mr. Erdoğan demanded Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu prove what he called slanderous accusations. A few days later, the parliament opposition leader produced bank documents appearing to substantiate his claim.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ We have been covering the human side of the news up to this point, here's something from the animal side:

&  Municipal officials in Turkey's southeastern town of Artuklu held a retirement ceremony for three of the 43 donkeys used in garbage collection.

  The three donkeys worked hard for eight years, the officials say. Ribbons were tied to the donkeys' saddles and later cut as part of the traditional ceremony in honor of their retirement. Delicious vegetables and fruits were presented to them as a retirement gift.

  Donkeys haul garbage collected in Mardin, a province under UNESCO protection, due to a ban on vehicles in the province's narrow streets.

  A municipal official said that they had the donkeys listen to classical music, especially Mozart, Bach and Beethoven's concertos.

  Read more at >> here <<


★ More than 30 million foreign nationals visited Turkey in the first 11 months of 2017, reports the Anatolia News Agency.

  The number is 5 million more than same period last year.

  Russians were the number one nationality visiting Turkey via land, air, sea, or rail, followed by Germans and Iranians, according to the data.

  The number of Russian tourists visiting the Mediterranean province of Antalya alone reached 3.4 million by the end of September.

★ Turkish actor Erhan Yazıcıoğlu has been booed on stage in a play during which he impersonated U.S. President Donald Trump, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  Yazıcıoğlu was impersonating the U.S. president during a play called "Aşk-ı Memduh" in the touristic Cappadocia region of the Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir.

  But some of the audience booed Yazıcıoğlu while some threw paper napkins at him after he appeared as Trump.

  "When I took the stage as Trump, the air was frozen among the audience and they looked at me with hate. Jeering, whistles, napkins and so on. Then they applauded me when I said 'Well, I am Erhan, whom you have known for 50 years," Yazıcıoğlu said.

  "Boo Trump, not me," he also wrote on his Instagram account.

★ The Turkish spring festival Hıdırellez has been added to the UNESCO list of "intangible cultural heritage," Turkey's Culture Ministry has said, reports the Anatolia News Agency.

  In a statement, the ministry said the celebration had been added at a UNESCO meeting in South Korea.

  Turkish communities around the world celebrate Hıdırellez on May 6 while Christians in the Balkans mark it as St. George's day on April 23.

  The roots of the celebration pre-date Islam or Christianity.

  According to the Culture Ministry website, some theories say Hıdırellez has stemmed from ancient Mesopotamian and Anatolian cultures while others claim its roots derive from the Turkish will peoples of central Asia.

  Video of a modern-day celebration is >> here <<

&★ Speaking of "intangible cultural heritage," UNESCO has listed at least 14 cultural practices found in Turkey, according to the Turkey's Culture Ministry. These include the Mevlana whirling dervishes, the Karagöz and Hacivat shadow plays, oil-wrestling in Kırkpınar and Turkish coffee.

  On December 6, UNESCO listed whistled language, also known as "bird language," from Turkey's northern Black Sea region as in urgent need of safeguarding.  (See this article >> here << ) and this >> video << )

-- A center focused on saving southeastern Turkey's wilderness areas released 10 rare birds to their natural habitat on December 12.

  The Gölpınar Wilderness Rescue and Rehab Center in Turkey's Şanlıurfa province has been treating the birds --including a vulture, a barn owl and a hawk -- for around four months.

  A local official for Turkey's General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks told Anatolia News Agency that the center has been operating for around five years and has treated hundreds of birds so far.

★ Some 450,000 people visited the famous glass terrace jutting out over the İncekaya Canyon in the historic town of Safranbolu in the Black Sea province of Karabük in the first 11 months of this year, state-run Anatolia News Agency reported on December 13.

  The 35 foot wide platform is 250 foot about the canyon.

  The Safranbolu town offers many picturesque old buildings and houses, some dating back 500 years. The town entered the UNESCO world heritage list in 1994.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ Turkish actors and actresses who have taken part in TV shows that have contributed to the international promotion of the country through their high export volumes were praised at the 44th Pantene Golden Butterfly Awards ceremony late on December 10, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  The annual awards ceremony presented "Miracle Makers" awards for the first time this year. Hürriyet board member Vuslat Doğan Sabancı presented the awards to six Turkish stars.

  Engin Akyürek, who is well-known in the Middle East and the Balkans for his role in "What is Fatmagül's Fault?" expressed his gratitude for the award.

  Songül Öden, who has starred in several TV series, including "Silver", said that acting has opened up an international door for them, as she accepted her award.

  Kenan İmirzalioğlu, Erkan Petekkaya, Cansu Dere and Tuba Büyüküstün received the Miracle Makers award in a ceremony held at Istanbul's Zorlu Center PSM, awarding the best in Turkey's television and music world.

  The award winners were selected with votes by the readers of daily Hürriyet and the ceremony was broadcast live on Kanal D and CNN Türk.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ The co-partner of Turkey's global Nusr-et chain of grill houses, Nusret Gökçe, who in early 2017 became a social media phenomenon for his meat-cutting and salt-drizzling skills, has been invited to cook in the home of  R&B star Beyonce and her rapper husband Jay-Z, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  "Salt Bae" Gökçe recently open a branch in Miami.

  Gökçe will reportedly earn $20,000 for the gig. r />
  Earlier this year, the social media phenomenon served Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio at his restaurant in Dubai.

  Gökçe posted a photo of the moment on his official Instagram account along with the hashtag #saltbae, writing: "He said 'You are the real Oscar performer.'"

&#★ Organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts and due to be held from Sept. 22 to Nov. 4, 2018 with the title of "A School of Schools," the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial invites everyone from around the world to respond to its open call for submissions, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  The open call is extended to all designers, architects, scientists, engineers, chefs, craftspeople, activists and everyone else who would like to take part in "A School of Schools," curated by Jan Boelen, the Foundation said in a statement.

  Applicants are invited to explore eight themes: Measures and Maps, Time and Attention, Mediterranean and Migration, Disasters and Earthquakes, Food and Customs, Patterns and Rhythm, Currency and Capital, and Parts and Pockets. r />
  Read more at >> here <<

★ The ruins of an 816-year-old Seljuk inn have emerged from the waters of the Altınapa dam, which provides drinking water to the Central Anatolian province of Konya, reports the Anatolia News Agency.

  Ahmet Çaycı, a professor of history of art at the Necmettin Erbakan University, told Anatolia News Agency that Altınapa Inn was among the oldest monuments from the Seljuk period, adding that it served people for centuries.

&n  He said that the building should be moved somewhere else, restored and opened to the public.

★ A church converted into a mosque in the Black Sea province of Trabzon will be renovated to reveal the frescoes and mosaics covered behind wooden shutters. r />
  The move is part of efforts undertaken by authorities to increase the number of sites local and foreign tourists can visit in the province.

  Trabzon Provincial Director of Culture and Tourism Ali Ayvazoğlu said the works to be undertaken at the Hagia Sophia Mosque will be very similar to the ongoing restoration works in the Fatih Mosque, whose newly discovered ancient floor mosaics are covered with glass.

  "The restoration of the Fatih Mosque [in Trabzon] is about to be completed. It will be open [for visits] in a couple of months. The [1,600-year-old] mosaics on its floor have been unearthed. The regional directorate for foundations was going to cover them [mosaics] with a wooden structure, but we proposed for them to be covered in glass. We said, 'Let us acquire one more place for our visitors [to the province] to visit and see the mosaics'… The same will also happen in Hagia Sophia," Ayvazoğlu said.

  The Hagia Sophia Mosque in Trabzon was originally built as a church in the 13th century but was converted into a mosque after the conquest of the city by the Ottoman Empire in 1461. Serving as a mosque for centuries, the building was reopened as a museum in 1964 after undergoing restoration and was transferred to the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

  The shopkeepers  around the mosque complain about the fall in the number of foreign tourists especially after the Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque.

  "Before, at least 50 tour buses would come here. Now, only domestic tourists come here, but would it be bad if foreign tourists also came?" one shopkeeper says.

  Another shopkeeper, Muhammet Demeli, said when it was decided for the Hagia Sophia to be turned into a mosque, no local opinion, including theirs, was taken.

  Read more at >> here <<

&#★ The fourth Istanbul Silent Movie Days will bring re-mastered international silent movies to various Istanbul art venues from December 14-17, with a special focus on "dance," the Anatolia News Agency has reported.

  "Our schedule consists of re-mastered movies relevant to today's world. The re-mastered movies first go on global tour, and then when it's our turn they come to Istanbul," said Nagehan Uskan, the event's art director.

  Uskan stressed that the silent movie experience, mostly consisting of short comedies, does not prohibit sound, and a smattering of live music will accompany many of the screenings. r />
  This year's event will also feature never-seen-before movies picked from various movie archives, she added.

  Foreign and local academics, researchers and curators will make presentations for each movie, and the impact of dance " a primitive form of human expression – on cinema's early days will be analyzed during the event.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ Famous flamenco dance group Los Vivancos, which brings together six brothers and is recognized as one of the greatest dance phenomena of the last decade, will be on Istanbul's TİM Show Center stage on December 16, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  Their dancing combines flamenco, classic ballet and modern dance. Martial arts also play an essential role in the group's performances.

  The brothers have some knowledge of Turkish music, particularly referring to megastar Tarkan.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ Istanbul's Pera Museum has opened its new winter season with two exhibitions

  The first exhibit is titled "Re/Framing Louis Kahn: Photographs by Cemal Emden " Drawings and Paintings". It brings together drawings and photographs of architectural works by Louis I. Kahn, an architect, thinker, artist and "architectural guru" who is considered among the leading figures of 20th century architecture, according to a press release by the museum.

  Kahn  has spent his whole life in Pennsylvania, working, teaching and practicing.

  The other exhibition, "Look at Me!: Portraits and Other Fictions from Spain's 'la Caixa' Contemporary Art Collection," exhibition examines portraiture, one of the oldest artistic genres, through a significant number of works in our times. Paintings, photographs, sculptures and videos shape a labyrinth of gazes that invite spectators to reflect themselves in the social mirror of portraits, according to the release.

  Curated by Nimfa Bisbe Molin and divided into four thematic sections, "Spotlight on Emotion," "The Conventions of Identity," "The Memory of the Face" and "Masks and Other Fictions," the exhibition presents the works of 22 artists.

  The "la Caixa" Contemporary Art Collection was established in 1985 and now comprises nearly one thousand works.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ A Turkish bath used by five Ottoman Sultans has been uncovered during restorations in Topkapı Palace, reports Ömer Erbil of the Hürriyet Daily News.

  The palace is the first and most famous of the sultans' residences and administrative centers in Istanbul.

  The bath was mentioned in written documents before, and it has come to light by chance during the restoration of the Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force.

  The bath was built during the construction of the Topkapi Palace in the 1460s and thought to have been used for 120 years.

  The Topkapı Palace Museum is undergoing the most comprehensive restoration project in its history. The project is expected to cost about $56.4 million with renovations in 24 sections.

  Read more at >> here <<

&#★ Turkish rural police seized a historic Viking statue from a man traveling on a bus from southwestern Turkey to Istanbul, reports the Doğan News Agency.

  The man was detained by the police.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 3.86


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey:        55/39 Light Rain
Antalya, on the Mediterranean:    63/55 Showers
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey:       34/21 Partly Cloudy
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey: 63/55 Showers
Izmir, on the Aegean:             64/59 Showers
Trabzon, on the Black Sea:        66/54 Partly Cloudy	
Snow depths at skiing locations:
Erciyes in Kayseri, Central Turkey      : 24 inches
Ilgaz in Kastamonu, North Central Turkey: 10 inches
Kartalkaya in Bolu, Western Turkey      : 16 inches
Palandöken in Erzurum, Eastern Turkey   : 15 inches
Saklıkent in Antalya, Southern Turkey   : No snow
Sarıkamış in Kars, Eastern Turkey       : 7 inches
Uludağ in Bursa, Western Turkey         : 19 inches	



Premiere League

* Results for week: 15
Bursa Sp        -      Fenerbahçe      0 - 1
Kasımpaşa       -      Trabzon Sp      0 - 3
Malatyaspor     -      Göztepe         2 - 3
Antalya Sp      -      G. Birliği      1 - 1
G. Saray        -      Akhisar Sp      4 - 2
Kayseri Sp      -      Beşiktaş        1 - 1
Osmanlı Sp      -      Alanya Sp       3 - 0
Sivas Sp        -      Başakşehir      1 - 0
Konya Sp        -      Karabük Sp      2 - 0
* In games played so far this weekend:
G. Birliği      -      Kasımpaşa       0 - 0
Alanya Sp       -      Sivas Sp        1 - 1
Trabzon Sp      -      Bursa Sp        1 - 0
* Standing in the league as of week ending 15
  1 - G. Saray        32
  2 - Başakşehir      30
  3 - Fenerbahçe      29
  4 - Beşiktaş        27
  5 - Kayseri Sp      27
  6 - Göztepe         27
  7 - Trabzon Sp      25
  8 - Bursa Sp        24
  9 - Sivas Sp        22
 10 - Akhisar Sp      19
 11 - Kasımpaşa       18
 12 - Alanya Sp       17
 13 - Malatyaspor     16
 14 - Osmanlı Sp      14
 15 - Konya Sp        14
 16 - Antalya Sp      14
 17 - G. Birliği      12
 18 - Karabük Sp      8


[Saat 18:30 and 19:30 'da iki kez okuyun]


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