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★ According to the National Public Radio, two years after a military uprising attempted to topple the Erdoğan government in Turkey, the president has a tighter grip on power than ever. The state of emergency imposed after the attempted coup expired on Thursday.
NPR's Istanbul reporter Peter Kenyon, reported on Saturday that crackdown on suspected opponents, not only the people suspected of participating in the coup attempt, are continuing.
Akin Atalay , A journalist from daily Cumhuriyet, a staunch opponent of Erdoğan, says that "the state of emergency may be ending, but the mentality will continue."
Atalay adds "It's the most anti-democratic I've seen it. Critics are thrown in jail. All dissent is under oppression all the time. There are thoughts they allow you to think and other thoughts you are not allowed to think. And if you dare to think it and voice it, you're going to be punished."
Peter Kenyon says the presidency now has sweeping new powers with few checks and balances. Human Rights Watch said the courts were acting as, quote, "willing handmaidens for state repression."
★ According to Deutsche Welle, Andrew Brunson, a US pastor who has been in jail for the past two years, appeared at a Turkish court again on Wednesday.
The judge again denied his release and said that he will be in jail until facing charges of terrorism and espionage.
The case of the American evangelical Christian pastor from North Carolina has added further strain to US-Turkish relations, with some members of US Congress calling for sanctions against Turkey.
Critics of Turkey have described Brunson as a "hostage."
Brunson is accused of links to cleric Fethullah Gülen, who lives in the United States, and who Turkey accuses of being behind the failed coup attempt of July 2016.
Brunson is also accused of ties to the rebel Kurdistan Worker's Party, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Brunson, who has lived nearly two decades in Turkey and served at a small church in Turkey's Aegean city of Izmir, denies the charges.
The pastor's detention has become a major issue for President Trump's key evangelical constituency in the United States.
Trump, whose political base includes conservative Christians, tweeted in April that Brunson was "on trial and being persecuted in Turkey for no reason."
In a tweet on July 18, President Trump said "A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected U.S. Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison. He has been held hostage far too long. @RT_Erdoğan should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father. He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!"
★ Turkey's strategic goal of developing a domestic arms industry is a driving force behind its intention to buy Russia's S-400 missile system, with Moscow including technology transfer as part of the deal, reports Dorian Jones of the VOA.
The technology transfer offer, analysts say, is impeding the US' effort to persuade Turkey to buy the U.S. Patriot missile system instead.
A Western diplomat speaking anonymously said concerns over whom Turkey would share technology that it secured from its allies is a likely factor behind the reluctance to include technology transfer in arms deals.
NATO partners are warning Turkey its defense systems could be compromised if S-400 missiles are deployed.
Analysts say Turkey is aware any Patriot missile deal would have to be signed off by Congress, which is increasingly taking an assertive stance toward Turkey. U.S. lawmakers are already threatening to block the delivery of American F-35 fighter jets. In the past, many Turkish arms deals have been stopped or delayed by Congress.
★ In related news, Turkey is protesting U.S. lawmakers' efforts to block delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey because of Turkey's commitment to also buy a Russian missile defense system instead of a U.S.-made system, Ken Bredemeier and Özlem Tinaz of the voice of America reports.
U.S. officials say Turkey's deployment of the Russian missile defense system, at the same time the F-35 jet fighters are flying over Europe, could give Moscow access to sensitive and secret technology used in the aircraft.
★ According to Deutsche Welle, starting next year, new drivers in Austria will no longer be able to take their exam in Turkish, according to Transport Minister Norbert Hofer. The far-right politician from the FPO party claims the move is motivated by financial reasons.
The test will be available in German, English, Slovenian and Croatian--but not in Turkish.
Out of nearly 300,000 tests taken last year, only around 3600 or around 1.2% were taken in Turkish.
Minister Hofer said that each additional language for training costs the state a five-figure sum that isn't justifiable. He added that the measure would serve as "an incentive to learn German".
Austrian driving associations, however, appeared less than thrilled by the move. According to the daily Kurier, the ÖAMTC club commented that a "driving exam is not a tool for language integration," while its rivals from ARBÖ said the decision was "very political."
While the overwhelming majority of Austrian residents take the test in German, Turkish is still the second-most popular language among the applicants, ahead of English (2,301 in 2017), Croatian (2,112) and Slovenian (139).
Austria's FPÖ is the third-largest party in the country and a junior partner in the government. The far-right party ran on an anti-immigration platform in 2017.
★ According to the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, a Reuters analysis found that since Trump took office in January 2017 he had 200 phone calls with 40 world leaders.
He talked most with French president Emmanuel Macron 25 times. In the eighth place is Turkish President Erdoğan with eight calls.
On the other hand, Russian leader Putin spent the most time on the phone speaking with Turkish President Erdoğan. He spoke with Trump only eight times which puts President Trump in the sixth place.
★ People from a village in Turkey's Mediterranean province of Osmaniye have been protesting the proposed opening of a stone quarry in their village in a novel way.
Saying that they will all die if the query is opened, they held a mock funeral for themselves, reports the daily Cumhuriyet.
The villagers say that when the stone quarry opens, the history, nature and agriculture in the region would be destroyed.
★ There were several articles in the world press about Turkey's economy this week:
The Germany's Deutsche Welle said that Turkey's economy is under pressure. Turkey's President, however, says that Turkish economy is on track, but the countries downgraded credit rating and rising inflation speak a different language, Deutsche Welle added. Read more >> here <<
Another Deutsche Welle article said "Turkey's central bank paralyzed as inflation soars.
The Turkish lira is plunging and inflation soaring — normally a classic scenario for a rates hike. But Turkey's president is focused on growth, and his influence over the central bank is preventing a hike." Read more >> here <<
The Time magazine carried an article titled "Turkey is heading for economic meltdown".
The article says that in the new Turkish cabinets after the July 9 elections, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sacrificed the former deputy prime minister and ex-Merrill Lynch chief economist Mehmet Şimşek in favor of his inexperienced son-in-law Berat Albayrak as finance and treasury minister to manage the fragile economy. Whether he has the competence to placate jittery financial markets and foreign investors is debatable. Read more >> here <<
★ A G-20 meeting of the world's largest 20 economies is taking place in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Turkey will be represented in the meeting with Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and Central Bank president Murat Çetinkaya. Albayrak is the president's son-in-law.
There will be also representatives from IMF, World Bank and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
★ A US delegation headed by Marshall Billingslea met with Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry officials in Ankara, Turkey on Friday.
Marshall Billingslea is currently the US Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing.
Billingslea is in Turkey to find out about the Turkish administrations views on sanctions that are due to start soon on Iran.
On May 8, 2018, President Trump announced that he was pulling out of the nuclear agreement with Iran and will start sanctions again.
In June Turkish officials said that they will not support any sanctions on Iran other than the ones that are imposed by the United Nations.
After Marshall Billingslea's meetings with the Turkish officials, Turkey's Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement saying that the talks were aimed at preventing any damage to Turkey from the impending sanctions.
The ministry pointed out that Iran is an important trading partner of Turkey. Turkey buys about 17% of its oil and gas from Iran.
Some news just came in: Financial Tribune of Iran reports that Turkey's biggest oil importer TUPRAS has cut back purchases of Iranian crude since May, when the United States said it would reimpose sanctions on Tehran, and analysts say TUPRAS is likely to stick to lower volumes in coming months.
★ Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro paid a visit to Turkey this week for the inauguration ceremony of President Erdoğan. Maduro said that there is a need to develop relations with Turkey.
Venezuela and Turkey are increasing cooperation in the processing and selling of gold. The gold ore mined in Venezuela will be shipped to Turkey for processing.
After processing, the gold bars will be sent back to Venezuela's central bank.
The deputy head of the ruling Justice and Development Party in Turkey said that the gold deal can be considered a step towards the destruction of the hegemony of the US dollar.
ARTS AND CULTURE
The daily Cumhuriyet writer Zeynep Oral and Joan Baez
★ Singer, songwriter, musician, and activist Joan Baez is in Istanbul for a concert on her "Goodbye Tour". She will be promoting a new album of hers, which she says it will be her last one.
The vigorous 77-year-old singer will be on stage at Istanbul's Harbiye open-air theater on Sunday.
The Turkish daily Cumhuriyet's Zeynep Oral interviewed Joan Baez on Friday.
When Oral asked what Baez liked about Istanbul, she replied "Its magnificent beauty. Historical collections, its every corner, its originality... From parts to cemeteries its green colors, sunsets, street cats, tiles..." Baez added that after Istanbul she likes the antique city of Ephesus best in Turkey.
More than anything else, she likes the most the people that she calls friends.
Among the things that she doesn't like about Istanbul are modern buildings that are examples of tastelessness... The concrete skyscrapers that have been erected in place of original and beautiful structures... She says that the skyscrapers won't last forever, but the flowing Bosporus will always remain.
Joan Baez was in Turkey several times and she calls Turkey her second home, Zeynep Oral writes.
★ The 19th International Büyükçekmece Culture and Arts Festival has started, reports the daily Cumhuriyet.
As part of the festival architects from seven countries will take part in the International Sculpture Symposium.
Curator Metin Yergi will be overseeing the symposium.
This year the participants will be So Dong Choe from South Korea, Raphael Beil from Germany, Zdravko Zdravkov from Bulgaria, Alessio Ronaldi from Italy, Lyudmila Mysko from Ukraine, Beata Rostas from Hungary and Songül Telek from Turkey.
The marble and metal sculptors that the artists will make will be placed in the park in front of the municipality building.
★ Professor Haluk Şahin received the 2018 Homer Science, Arts and Culture Prize.
The prize is given as part of the traditional Troy Festival to those who contribute to the promotion of the ancient city of Troy and Anatolian cultures, and those who contribute to the world peace through writing, poetry, plastic and other arts, and contributions through science.
The jury awarded the prize to Dr. Şahin for organizing the day of The Day of the Poet and Reading from Homer activity for the past 17 years in Turkey's Aegean island of Bozcaada.
The prize ceremony will take place on August 10 in the ruins of the ancient city of Troy. Dr. Şahin's The Day of the Poet and Homer activity will take place on August 5 on the island of Bozcaada again.
Dr. Şahin is a professor emeritus at Istanbul's Bilgi University.
★ The Istanbul Jazz Festival which started on June 26 ended with a concert by Robert Plant. The legendary vocalist of the Led Zeppelin group, Plant was accompanied by The Sensational Space Shifters band.
In addition to singing Led Zeppelin songs, the 69-year-old Robert Plant also covered songs by Joan Baez and Bukka White.
In addition to Turks, the concert was attended by 200 refugees with the collaboration of the Istanbul jazz Festival and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Hotel Les Ottomans
★ Istanbul's Bosporus Strait is getting ready for a magical night on July 25 at the Hotel Les Ottomans, reports the daily Cumhuriyet.
An event dubbed "World-Class Presents: One Fine Night", drinks and delicious hors d'oeuvres by the best bartenders.
The bartenders are the best of Turkey and they are getting ready to participate in the "World-Class Bartender of the Year" competitions, and the Istanbul event will select the ones that will represent Turkey.
And the venue, Hotel Les Ottomans, is one of the best seaside mansions of the city built in 1700s for an Ottoman general now serving as a hotel.
There will be 94 bartenders participating in the event and the jury will select seven as finalists from Turkey.
In addition to drinks and hors d'oeuvres, there will be live musicians to entertain the guests.
The international event that all the participants from different countries will take place October 3rd through 6th in Berlin, Germany.
★ Turkish actor Numan Acar who lives in the German capital Berlin, will be starring in Spiderman's new episode titled Aladdin, reports the German daily Bild.
Acar is from the small Eastern town of Kelkit in Turkey. In 1982 he has emigrated to Germany and studied engineering.
However, he became an actor, and throughout his acting career he participated in many movies along with renowned actors and actresses.
Among the movies he starred are Homeland and Prison Break.
★ Turkish director Kaan Müjdeci, who got many awards with his very first film "Sivas", has now secured financial support for his second movie "Iguana Tokyo" from two German organizations, reports the daily Cumhuriyet.
The first financial support is from the organization Medienboard for $295,000. The second support came from BKM to the tune of $387,000.
In addition, having been chosen for the Film Workshop in the 69th Cannes Festival as a promising project, Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry Film Support Organization has decided to give $200,000 to the film.
The story does not and here, the Japanese Culture Ministry Film Fund, decided to pay 20% of the budget up to $800,000.
The joint German-Turkish-Japanese production will be shot in Tokyo and Japan in the fall, and will be finished by the end of 2018. The film will be in Japanese and English.
Not bad for a new director!
★ Google celebrated the 100th birthday of the Turkish singer Müzeyyen Senar on July 16.
Müzeyyen Senar passed away on February 8, 2015. She started singing at the age of 14 in 1933.
Her singing was much admired by the first president and the independence war hero of Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
ÇEV Art Board and Villa Music director Aleksander Hülsoff
★ Turkey's ÇEV Art, ÇEV here stands for Contemporary Education Foundation, has signed an agreement for cooperation with Germany's prominent classical music foundation Villa Musica, reports the daily Cumhuriyet.
The agreement is to support and move forward globally the young musicians who are continuing their education with the scholarship from the foundation through the "Young Talents Project". The agreement was signed with the leadership of the renowned Turkish pianist and composer Fazıl Say and renowned violinist Cihat Aşkın .
The main sponsor of the "Young Talents Project" is QNB Finansbank.
As part of the cooperation agreement, young musicians will be able to find the opportunity to work with renowned artists in Germany, participate in master classes and give concerts.
In a similar manner, young musicians that Villa Musica has chosen will be able to get their education in Istanbul and also participate in concerts through the activities of ÇEV Art.
★ Mert Kemal Başar, a second year high school student at the Istanbul University State Conservatory, has won the first prize in the Ars Kosovo International Piano Competitions. In addition, he also won the Special Mozart Prize of the jury, reports the daily Cumhuriyet.
The young pianist performed works of Bach, Mozart, Brahms and Turkish composer İlhan Baran.
★ Izmir Metropolitan Area Municipality has organized an activity titled "International Izmir Graffiti Workshop".
There will be 92 artists from 23 countries participating in the activity.
The selection committee has evaluated artists from Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Iran, the US, Philippines, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany, China, Denmark, Palestine, Australia, Britain, France, Argentine, Egypt, Uruguay, Switzerland, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Algeria, and Turkey.
The graffiti artists' works with the displayed at five different points in the city.
★ In Istanbul's Trump Shopping Center, the Trump Art Gallery has an exhibition of 17 works of foreign and Turkish artists, reports the daily Cumhuriyet.
Dubbed "The Painting Exhibition from the Collection" and curated by Bülent Aydın, the exhibitions features contemporary works of nature scenes, figures, nudes, portraits, interiors and Oriental themes.
The exhibition will be on through July 31.
★ Ayvalık International Music Academy, AIMA, that has been established to promote classical music in Turkey has put together a music festival July 27-30.
The festival will start with the performance of AIMA Festival Orchestra led by Alexander Rudin at the Taksiyarhis Monument Museum.
On the second day of the festival A Capella Boğaziçi made up of soprano Canan Özgür, alto Cansın Hazan Bayrak, baritone Fehmi Cesur Özdemir and base Ali Göktürk will be on the stage.
On July 20 Bozok Quartet will have a concert.
The closing concert of the festival will again feature the festival orchestra led by Alexander Rudin.
★ French Culture Center in Istanbul has put together a French film event in Istanbul's Zorlu PSM amphitheater. The event has started on July 16 and will continue through September 10 every evening at 8 PM.
The screening of the French films will be on giant screens and free for everyone.
★ Under the direction of Dr. Göksel Sazcı of the Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Archaeology Department, this year's excavations at the Maydos Kilisetepe mound started for the 2018 season.
The excavations will concentrate on Bronze Age and early Iron Age defense systems.
Archaeologists indicate that the area was inhabited starting around 5000 years ago.
The mound is one of the biggest in Turkey's Gallipoli Peninsula.
★ In Turkey's Mediterranean province of Mersin, in excavations at the ancient city of Soli Pompeiopolis archaeologists found a 1700-year-old bust of a prominent citizen.
The bust is 2 1/2 feet high and represents a man wearing Roman attire.
The bust will be taken to Mersin Museum for display.
Archaeologists have been conducting excavations at the site since 1999 and found many other statues on an ancient street called "Avenue with Columns".
★ Koray Alper, a PhD student at Turkey's Pamukkale University Archaeology Department, as part of his thesis titled "Maritime Activities 7 and 6 thousand years ago", has started building a vessel using the techniques of the era.
Alper says that there is many data indicating active trade between western Anatolia's coastal regions and the Aegean islands.
He says that there are theoretical explanations as to how this trade was conducted. He says that he will test these theories.
He points out that people first started building vessels with reeds, then built more robust vessels that could withstand waves and the winds.
He says one of the theories was that people simply traveled on logs. After testing this theory he found out that this is impossible. In that era, there were no tools other than ones made with obsidian or flint. To make a vessel from a log with these tools, he first burnt the log for easier processing.
After building the 12 foot long, three-foot wide vessel, Alper says that they will travel to the nearby Greek islands.
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 4.8
High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey: 86/63 Mostly Sunny
Antalya, on the Mediterranean: 104/81 Mostly Sunny
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey: 79/54 Thunderstorms
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey: 90/73 Partly Cloudy
Izmir, on the Aegean: 95/79 Mostly Sunny
Trabzon, on the Black Sea: 82/73 Thunderstorms
Black Sea measured at Trabzon 76
Marmara Sea measured at Tekirdağ 78
Aegean Sea measured at İzmir 80
Mediterranean Sea measured at Antalya 82
★ Turkish athlete Meryem Bekmez participated in Finland's Tampere city World under 20 Athletics Championships, and received a silver medal in 10K m.
★ Turkey's Ramil Guliyev received the second-place in Monaco in the Hercules Competitions in 200 m race. American Noah Lyles took the first place.
Orhan Okulu on a victory tour back in his home province of Antalya
★ The 657th Historical Oil Wrestling Championships ended in Turkey's Northwestern province of Edirne. This year's champion is Orhan Okulu from the Mediterranean province of Antalya. Okulu is dubbed the wrestler with "no reverse gear".
[Saat 18:30 and 19:30 'da iki kez okuyun]
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