Global News April 12, 2017

  1. BBC
  2. Global News April 12, 2017

“Melania Trump wins’ damages from Daily Mail over ‘escort’ allegation”

The UK’s Daily Mail newspaper has agreed to pay damages and costs to the first lady of the United States over an article about her modelling career.
The newspaper had reported allegations that Melania Trump once worked as an escort, but later retracted its article. The story was published during the US election campaign last year.
Mrs. Trump accepted damages and an apology from the newspaper at London’s High Court.
She filed her lawsuit in February, seeking damages of $150m (£120m). The amount accepted by Mrs. Trump was not disclosed in court. However, reports suggest the payout was closer to $3 million, including legal costs and damages. In its apology, the Daily Mail acknowledged it had published «allegations that she provided services beyond simply modelling».
The article also claimed that Mr. and Mrs. Trump may have met three years before they actually did, and later «staged» their first meeting. «We accept that these allegations about Mrs. Trump are not true,» the newspaper said. A lawyer for Mrs. Trump told the London court the allegations «strike at the heart of the claimant’s personal integrity and dignity».


“Russia’s Lavrov warns US over Syria in heated start to talks”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov began a meeting with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson in Moscow with a warning — do not strike the Syrian regime again.
The two top diplomats are sitting down together in Moscow on Wednesday for what are expected to be painstaking talks, after a chemical attack in northwestern Syria plunged the old Cold War enemies to a new low. The two countries have traded barbs over last week’s chemical attack, which killed 89 people, and prompted the US to carry out its first strike against the Syrian regime in the six-year conflict, taking out aircraft and infrastructure at a Syrian military air base.
The White House on Tuesday accused Russia and Syria of carrying out a confusion campaign over who was responsible for the chemical attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made comparisons between the US response and its 2003 intervention in Iraq, calling it a «tedious» story.
The deaths have been widely blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, but Russia, Assad’s most powerful ally, has denied the regime carried out the attack.
Lavrov said Wednesday that Russia «saw some very troubling actions regarding the attack on Syria.»
«We believe it is fundamentally important not to let these actions happen again,» Lavrov said, according to an official Russian interpreter. He also complained about the mixed messages coming out of Washington on the Trump administration’s policy on Syria, with the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, making clear Assad should have no future in Syria as Tillerson took a softer line.


The Economist
“As Turkey votes on a new constitution, it is sliding into dictatorship”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is carrying out the harshest crackdown in decades. The West must not abandon Turkey.
Turkey matters not just for its size, but also as a bellwether of the political forces shaping the world. For centuries, it was the seat of a great empire. Today, as a frontier state, it must cope with the violence spewing out of war-ravaged Syria; it is a test case of whether democracy can be reconciled with political Islam; and it must navigate between Western liberalism and the authoritarian nationalism epitomised by Russia. In recent years under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has gone backwards. This weekend it can begin to put that right.
On April 16th Turks will vote in a referendum over whether to abandon their parliamentary system for an executive presidency. A Yes is likely, but far from certain. There is nothing wrong with a strong president, but Turkey’s new constitution goes too far. The country would end up with a 21st-century sultan minimally curbed by parliament (see Briefing). A Yes would condemn Turkey to the elected dictatorship of President Erdogan. A No might just let Turks constrain him.
After Mr. Erdogan came to power in 2003, he and his AK party did a lot that was good. Encouraged by the IMF, he tamed inflation and ushered in economic growth. Encouraged by the EU, he tackled the cabal of military officers and bureaucrats in the “deep state”, strengthened civil liberties and talked peace with the Kurds. He also spoke up for working-class religious conservatives, who had been locked out of power for decades. But today Turkey is beset by problems. In the shadow of the Syrian civil war, jihadists and Kurdish militants are waging campaigns against the state. Last summer the army attempted a coup—probably organized by supporters of an American-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who had penetrated the bureaucracy, judiciary and army in their tens of thousands. The economy, once a strength, is growing slowly, plagued by cronyism, poor management and a collapse in tourism.
Mr. Erdogan argues that, to put this right, Turkey needs a new constitution that will generate political stability. He says that only a strong president can galvanize the state and see off its enemies. Naturally, he is talking about himself. The new constitution embodies the “illiberal democracy” of nationalists such as Viktor Orban of Hungary and Vladimir Putin of Russia, to whom Mr. Erdogan is increasingly compared. On this view, election winners take all, constraints are obstacles to strong government and the ruling party has a right to subvert institutions, such as the judiciary and the press.