TBR News July 20, 2016

Jul 20 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. July 20, 2016: “ Question from a reader: ‘Any chance the robotics could be used to improve the standard of living, make things cheaper and reduce the need to work and so on? Seems like if the productivity gains could benefit everyone it could be a good thing in the long run. They often talk about post-scarcity economics. Think that’s feasible?’

My answer: ‘In a sense, we have that now. Individuals with computer and allied skills can easily obtain good paying employment while students with degrees in business administration, history, goat breeding and other useless subjects are now scrubbing toilets in MacDonalds. he use of AI and robots will only marginalize everyone else, make more money for the operators and further enlarge the numbers of unemployed.’”

Thoughts of the Forbidden Man

In a reasonably directed State care must be taken that each individual is given the kind of work which corresponds to his capabilities. Inother words, people will be trained for the positions indicated by their natural endowments; but these endowments or faculties are innate and cannot be acquired by any amount of training, being a gift from Nature and not merited by men. Therefore, the way in which men are generally esteemed by their fellow-citizens must not be according to the kind of work they do, because that has been more or less assigned to the individual. Seeing that the kind of work in which the individual is employed is to be accounted to his inborn gifts and the resultant training which he has received from the community, he will have to be judged by the way in which he performs this work entrusted to him by the community. For the work which the individual performs is not the purpose of his existence, but only a means. His real purpose in life is to better himself and raise himself to a higher level as a human being; but this he can only do in and through the community whose cultural life he shares. And this community must always exist on the foundations on which the State is based. He ought to contribute to the conservation of those foundations. Nature determines the form of this contribution. It is the duty of the individual to return to the community, zealously and honestly, what the community has given him. He who does this deserves the highest respect and esteem. Material remuneration may be given to him whose work has a corresponding utility for the community; but the ideal recompense must lie in the esteem to which everybody has a claim,who serves his people with whatever powers Nature has bestowed upon him and which have been developed by the training he has received from the national community. Then it will no longer be dishonourable to be an honest craftsman; but it will be a cause of disgrace to be an inefficient State official, wasting God’s day and filching daily bread from an honest public. Then it will be looked upon as quite natural that positions should not be given to persons who of their very nature are incapable of filling them.

Erdogan targets more than 50,000 in purge after failed Turkish coup

July 19, 2016

by Humeyra Pamuk and Ercan Gurses


ISTANBUL/ANKARA-Turkey vowed to root out allies of the U.S.-based cleric it blames for an abortive coup last week, widening a purge of the army, police and judiciary on Tuesday to universities and schools, the intelligence agency and religious authorities.

Around 50,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended or detained since the coup attempt, stirring tensions across the country of 80 million which borders Syria’s chaos and is a Western ally against Islamic State.

“This parallel terrorist organization will no longer be an effective pawn for any country,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, referring to what the government has long alleged is a state within a state controlled by followers of Fethullah Gulen.

“We will dig them up by their roots,” he told parliament.

A spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan said the government was preparing a formal request to the United States for the extradition of Gulen, who Turkey says orchestrated the failed military takeover on Friday in which at least 232 people were killed.

U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the status of Gulen in a telephone call with Erdogan on Tuesday, the White House said, urging Ankara to show restraint as it pursues those responsible for the coup attempt.

Seventy-five-year-old Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania but has a network of supporters within Turkey, has condemned the attempt and denied any role in it.

A former ally-turned critic of Erdogan, he suggested the president staged it as an excuse for a crackdown after a steady accumulation of control during 14 years in power.

On Tuesday, authorities shut down media outlets deemed to be supportive of the cleric and said 15,000 people had been fired from the education ministry, 492 from the Religious Affairs Directorate, 257 from the prime minister’s office and 100 intelligence officials.

The lira weakened to beyond 3 to the dollar after state broadcaster TRT said all university deans had been ordered to resign, recalling the sorts of broad purges seen in the wake of successful military coups of the past.

In a sign of international concern, a German official said a serious fissure had opened in Turkey and he feared fighting would break out within Germany’s large Turkish community.

“A deep split is emerging in Turkish society,” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. “The danger of an escalation in violence between Erdogan supporters and opponents has also risen in Germany.”


Turkey’s Western allies have expressed solidarity with the government over the coup attempt but also alarm at the scale and swiftness of the response, urging it to adhere to democratic values.

Prime Minister Yildirim accused Washington, which has said it will consider Gulen’s extradition only if clear evidence is provided, of double standards in its fight against terrorism.

Yildirim said the justice ministry had sent a dossier to U.S. authorities on Gulen, whose religious movement blends conservative Islamic values with a pro-Western outlook and who has a network of supporters within Turkey.

“We have more than enough evidence, more than you could ask for, on Gulen,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters outside parliament. “There is no need to prove the coup attempt, all evidence shows that the coup attempt was organized on his will and orders.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed Ankara had filed materials in electronic form with the U.S. government, which officials were reviewing. Any extradition request from Turkey, once submitted, would be evaluated under the terms of a treaty between the two countries, he added.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters that 9,322 people were under legal proceedings in relation to the attempted coup.

Eight soldiers have sought asylum in neighboring Greece and Turkey says they must be handed back or it will not help relations between the neighbors, which have long been uneasy.

Around 1,400 people were wounded as soldiers commandeered tanks, attack helicopters and warplanes, strafing parliament and the intelligence headquarters and trying to seize the main airport and bridges in Istanbul.

The army general staff said it would punish “in the most severe way” any members of the armed forces responsible for what it called “this disgrace”, adding that most had nothing to do with the coup.


Some Western leaders expressed concern that Erdogan, who said he was almost killed or captured by the mutineers, was using the opportunity to consolidate power and further a process of stifling dissent.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, voiced “serious alarm” on Tuesday at the mass suspension of judges and prosecutors and urged Turkey to allow independent monitors to visit those who have been detained.

The foreign ministry has said criticism of the government’s response amounts to backing the coup.

Turkey scrapped capital punishment in 2004 as part of its push to join the European Union, and European leaders have warned Ankara that restoring it would derail its EU aspirations.

But in the aftermath of the coup, Erdogan has repeatedly called for parliament to consider his supporters’ demands to apply the death penalty for the plotters.

Yildirim said Turkey would respect the rule of law and not be driven by revenge in prosecuting suspected coup plotters. Speaking alongside the leader of the main secularist opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), he said the country must avoid the risk that some people try to exploit the current situation.

“We need unity … and brotherhood now,” he said.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), a right-wing grouping and the smallest of the three opposition parties represented in parliament, said it would back the government if it decides to restore the death penalty.

More than 6,000 soldiers and around 1,500 others have been detained since the abortive coup. About 8,000 police officers, including in the capital Ankara and the biggest city Istanbul, have been removed on suspicion of links to the plot.

Some 1,500 finance ministry officials have also been removed from their posts. Annual leave has been suspended for more than three million civil servants, while close to 3,000 judges and prosecutors have also been purged. A court remanded 26 generals and admirals in custody on Monday, Turkish media said.


Officials in Ankara say former air force chief Akin Ozturk, who has appeared in detention with his face and arms bruised and one ear bandaged, was a co-leader of the coup. Turkish media said on Monday he had denied this to prosecutors, saying he had tried to prevent the attempted putsch.

The coup crumbled after Erdogan, on holiday with his family at the coastal resort of Marmaris, phoned in to a television news program and called for his followers to take to the streets. He was able to fly into Istanbul in the early hours of Saturday, after the rebel pilots had his plane in their sights but did not shoot it down.

He said on Monday he might have died if he had left Marmaris any later and that two of his bodyguards had been killed.

The bloodshed shocked the nation, where the army last used force to stage a successful coup more than 30 years ago, and shattered fragile confidence in the stability of a NATO member state already rocked by Islamic State suicide bombings and an insurgency by Kurdish militants.

Since the coup was put down, Erdogan has said enemies of the state still threatened the nation and has urged Turks to take to the streets every night until Friday to show support for the government.

(Additional reporting by Gareth Jones, Orhan Coskun and Roberta Rampton; Writing by Nick Tattersall and Philippa Fletcher; Editing by Peter Millership and David Stamp)


Turkey set for emergency measures to quell post-coup turmoil

July 20, 2016

by Humeyra Pamuk and Nick Tattersall


ISTANBUL-Turkey will announce emergency measures on Wednesday to try to shore up stability and prevent damage to the economy as it purges thousands of members of the security forces, judiciary, civil service and academia after an abortive coup.

Around 50,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended or detained since the military coup attempt, raising tensions across the country of 80 million which borders Syria’s chaos and is a Western ally against Islamic State.

Academics were banned from traveling abroad on Wednesday in what a Turkish official said was a temporary measure to prevent the risk of alleged coup plotters in universities from fleeing. State TRT television said 95 academics had been removed from their posts at Istanbul University alone.

“Universities have always been crucial for military juntas in Turkey and certain individuals are believed to be in contact with cells within the military,” the official said.

President Tayyip Erdogan blames the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for Friday night’s attempted coup, in which more than 230 people were killed as soldiers commandeered fighters jets, military helicopters and tanks to try to overthrow the government.

Erdogan has vowed to clean the “virus” responsible for the plot from all state institutions. The depth and scale of the purges have raised concern among Western allies that Erdogan is trying to suppress all dissent, and that opponents unconnected with the plot will be caught in the net.

He will chair meetings in his palace on Wednesday of the cabinet and the National Security Council, after which a series of emergency measures are expected to be announced.

In a sign of how shaken Turkey’s leadership has been by the coup attempt, with dozens of generals arrested as well as Erdogan’s aide de camp, government ministers and top officials have not been briefed in advance of the meetings.

“The cabinet meeting is classified at the highest level for national security reasons. The palace will give ministers a dossier just beforehand,” one senior official told Reuters.

“Ministers do not yet know what is going to be discussed.”

Around a third of Turkey’s roughly 360 serving generals have been detained since the coup bid, a second senior official said, with 99 charged pending trial and 14 more being held.

The threat of prolonged instability in a NATO member country, which had not seen a violent military coup for more than three decades, has shaken investors’ confidence.

The lira hit a 10-month low in early trade on Wednesday, touching 3.063 to the dollar. The Istanbul stock index is down 8 percent so far this week, its worst three-day performance since 2013. The cost of insuring Turkish debt against default rose to its highest in nearly a month, according to data from Markit.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek told Reuters a priority in the measures to be discussed on Wednesday would be preventing damage to the economy. He also said on Twitter they would be “market-friendly” and would prioritize structural reform.


Around 1,400 people were wounded as soldiers commandeered tanks, attack helicopters and warplanes, strafing parliament and the intelligence headquarters and trying to seize the main airport and bridges in Istanbul.

At the height of the abortive coup, the rebel pilots of two F-16 fighter jets had Erdogan’s plane in their sights as he returned to Istanbul from a holiday on the coast. Erdogan said he was almost killed or captured by the mutineers.

In testimony published by the Hurriyet newspaper and corroborated by a Turkish official, an infantry lieutenant-colonel said the coup plotters had tried to persuade military chief Hulusi Akar, who was being held hostage, to join the effort to overthrow Erdogan but that he had refused.

“When he refused, they couldn’t convince the senior commanders either. Akar’s refusal to be a part of this paved the way for the failure of the coup attempt,” the written transcript published by the newspaper said.

Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, ministers, senior commanders and generals had been due to be taken one by one during the night of the coup bid, the testimony said.

Turkey’s Western allies have expressed solidarity with the government over the coup attempt but have also voiced increasing alarm at the scale and swiftness of the response, urging it to adhere to democratic values.

On Tuesday, authorities shut down media outlets deemed to be supportive of Gulen and said 15,000 people had been suspended from the education ministry along with 100 intelligence officials. A further 492 people were removed from duty at the Religious Affairs Directorate, 257 at the prime minister’s office and 300 at the energy ministry.

Those moves come after the detention of more than 6,000 members of the armed forces, from foot soldiers to commanders, and the suspension of close to 3,000 judges and prosecutors. About 8,000 police officers, including in the capital Ankara and the biggest city Istanbul, have also been removed.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, voiced “serious alarm” on Tuesday at the mass suspension of judges and prosecutors and urged Turkey to allow independent monitors to visit those who have been detained.

The foreign ministry has said criticism of the government’s response amounts to backing the coup.


Erdogan’s spokesman said on Tuesday the government was preparing a formal request to the United States for the extradition of Gulen. U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the status of Gulen in a telephone call with Erdogan on Tuesday, the White House said, urging Ankara to show restraint as it pursues those responsible for the coup attempt.

Seventy-five-year-old Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania but has a network of supporters within Turkey, has condemned the abortive coup and denied any role in it.

A former ally-turned critic of Erdogan, he suggested the president staged it as an excuse for a crackdown after a steady accumulation of control during 14 years in power.

Prime Minister Yildirim accused Washington, which has said it will consider Gulen’s extradition only if clear evidence is provided, of double standards in its fight against terrorism.

Yildirim said the justice ministry had sent a dossier to U.S. authorities on Gulen, whose religious movement blends conservative Islamic values with a pro-Western outlook and who has a network of supporters within Turkey.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed Ankara had filed materials in electronic form with the U.S. government, which officials were reviewing. Any extradition request from Turkey, once submitted, would be evaluated under the terms of a treaty between the two countries, he added.

Such a request would face legal and political hurdles in the United States. Even if approved by a judge, it would still have to go to Secretary of State John Kerry, who can consider non-legal factors, such as humanitarian arguments.

“I urge the U.S. government to reject any effort to abuse the extradition process to carry out political vendettas,” Gulen said on Tuesday in a statement issued by the Alliance for Shared Values, a group associated with the cleric.

(Additional reporting by Orhan Coskun, Humeyra Pamuk, Can Sezer and David Dolan; Writing by Nick Tattersall and Philippa Fletcher; Editing by David Stamp)

Turkey blocks access to WikiLeaks after release of 300k govt emails over post-coup purges

July 20, 2016


Turkey has taken action to block access to the WikiLeaks website after a cache of around 300,000 government emails was released following last weekend’s attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Reuters reports.

The action was undertaken by Turkey’s internet watchdog after the whistleblower organization released hundreds of thousands of emails from Erdogan’s ruling AK Party.

The Telecommunications Communications Board called the move an “administrative measure,” which is a term commonly used by the organization when blocking access to websites.

WikiLeaks tweeted advice for Turks trying to access the website. It told users that they can use a proxy or “any of our IPs (confirm security exception) #Turkey.”

WikiLeaks managed to publish the 294,548 emails on Tuesday, despite its website being subject to a massive cyberattack.

“WikiLeaks has moved forward its publication schedule in response to the [Turkish] government’s post-coup purges,” WikiLeaks said in the release.

“We have verified the material and the source, who is not connected, in any way, to the elements behind the attempted coup, or to a rival political party or state,” added the whistleblowing site, which has previously insisted that it is neither pro- nor anti-government, but rather serves “the truth.”

All emails which were released were attributed to ‘akparti.org.tr’, the primary domain of the main political force in the country, and cover a period from 2010 up until July 6, 2016, just a week before the failed military coup.

Turkey’s long road to EU membership just got longer

President Erdoğan is now more concerned about seizing extra powers to deal with internal opposition than in cosying up to Brussels

July 20, 1016

by Jennifer Rankin

The Guardian

Brussels-Tanks on the street, parliament under attack and fighter jets buzzing over the Bosphorus: Turkey’s failed military coup, which led to the deaths of at least 232 people, has underlined the fragility of democracy in a country that thought it had left military adventurism in the past.

But the chaotic events also underscore how far away Turkey remains from joining the European Union, an outcome held out as an imminent prospect by the Vote Leave campaign, led by Boris Johnson – now British foreign secretary – only weeks ago.

Instead, the wide-ranging crackdown led by the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has increased the distance between Turkey and the EU. EU-Turkey relations have not been more difficult since the country became a candidate for EU membership in 2005. After a decade of slow-moving, stop-start talks, the two sides may be approaching a fork in the road.

Turkey dropped the death penalty in 2004 as part of decades-old efforts to join the EU but Erdoğan has said he is ready to reinstate it “if the people demand it”. However, EU politicians, led by foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, have been clear Turkey’s EU membership hopes would be finished if capital punishment returns to the Turkish statute book.

Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Turkey, thinks relations are now at a turning point. “Everything the EU has to say or wants to say because of its rules – whether it is freedom of expression, the death penalty or in the technical sphere of public procurement or competition policy – in all these fields the EU used to be a norm.” But now, he says, the EU “has become an impediment to the march of an executive presidency”.

He notes that the return of the death penalty is supported by pro-government crowds on the street, while Erdoğan has pointed out that the death penalty is legal in the United States. “The counterweight that the EU can be counts for almost nothing,” Pierini says.

Meanwhile, the European commissioner responsible for enlargement, Johannes Hahn, infuriated the Turkish government when he said lists of arrested judges seemed to have been prepared. In the 48 hours after the coup Turkish authorities arrested 6,000 people; by Tuesday, some 35,000 soldiers, police officers, judges and civil servants had been detained or suspended. Speaking to the European parliament, Hahn did not row back on his view: “To come up with a list like that within a few hours is something that most administrations are not able to do.”

“We have seen that from a coup you can get a counter-coup,” Elmar Brok, the chair of the European parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said in a specially convened session on Tuesday. MEPs lined up to express concerns about the “Putinisation” of Turkey, expressing fears the authoritarian turn makes the Muslim state more similar to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, than any EU country.

These fears took on added resonance when it emerged that Putin may meet his Turkish counterpart in August, as part of a rapprochement between the two countries. “I hope that it is not going to be a festival of autocrats,” Brok said.

But tensions in EU-Turkish relations are nothing new. In April MEPs lambasted Ankara’s backsliding on respect for democracy and the rule of law. For his part, Erdoğan angrily dismissed calls from the EU to rewrite Turkey’s domestic counter-terrorism legislation: “We’ll go our way, you go yours.”

“On many fronts we were already heading to a more transactional relationship with Turkey,” says Ian Lesser, senior director of foreign policy at the German Marshall Fund in Brussels.

The outlook for the EU-Turkey refugee deal is unchanged in the short term. “In the near term the factors that make or break that deal still operate. In the long term it becomes even more uncertain.”

Even before the attempted military takeover, parts of the EU-Turkey deal were already in doubt.

From the EU side the deal is working well. The number of refugees making the perilous journey across the eastern Mediterranean has dropped sharply (the western Mediterranean is a different story).

From the Turkish side the balance sheet may be less satisfactory. The EU has opened talks on another membership chapter, but the more prized offer of visa-free travel through the Schengen area has stalled. Günther Oettinger, Germany’s European commissioner, who has a habit of speaking off the cuff, predicted visa-free travel wouldn’t happen in 2016, far past the summer deadline. The European parliament had already said it will block the law if Turkey doesn’t meet the EU conditions for visa-free travel – the changes to Turkey’s anti-terrorism laws that Erdoğan opposes.

But the EU’s public statements on Turkey have skirted around what happens to the migration deal if Turkey’s EU membership path disintegrates. A European commission spokesman declined to “fill in such conclusions when [foreign] ministers themselves fail to do so”.

Pierini thinks the core part of the deal – EU funds for refugees in Turkey – will remain intact, even if membership talks stall. Turkish membership is not a priority for Erdoğan, because “it goes against the fundamental political interests of the Turkish government”, while he adds both sides have bigger priorities than visa liberalisation.

Instead he thinks the prospect of more Syrian refugees fleeing into Turkey, as a result of Bashar al-Assad’s forces closing in on Aleppo, will encourage both sides to maintain the bargain. The EU’s promised €3bn for refugees in Turkey will help the deal to stick. Just as the EU and Turkey will continue to work together on counter-terrorism, the migration pact may survive: “For convenient reasons on both sides you keep it alive”.

But the EU will have to give up the fiction that Turkey, under its current leadership, is still on the long road to joining the EU.

Hollande under fire after Nice attack

In the wake of the attack in Nice, the French government is coming under increasing pressure over its handling of security issues. Support for President Hollande is waning fast, as Elizabeth Bryant reports from Paris.

July 19, 2016


If last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris triggered solidarity and free expression, the Bastille Day rampage in Nice is sowing anger and division.

To be sure, bouquets are still piling up on makeshift shrines for the 84 adults and children killed when Tunisian driver Mohamed Lahouialej Bouhlel careened down the Riviera city’s seafront esplanade last Thursday. Once again, the French flag was lowered for three days of mourning.

But last year’s stunning, if brief, uptick in support for leftist President Francois Hollande has vanished. Alongside worries about jobs and the sluggish economy, security – and broader issues surrounding it – is emerging as a key campaign theme ahead of next year’s elections.

On Tuesday, France’s National Assembly will take up the government’s proposal to extend the state of emergency at least another three months – conservative lawmakers want it tougher and longer – even as some suggest it may have limited impact. Indeed, it failed to stop the assault in Nice.

Critics lambaste Hollande’s government for alleged security lapses and argue it failed to learn the lessons from last year. But others note the problem is not limited to France, and the solutions are elusive. “We see with what happened in Germany that the threat is everywhere,” Defense Minister Jean Yves Le Drian said in a radio interview, referring to Monday’s train assault by an Afghan refugee in southern Germany.

Security tops election agenda

“For the moment, the discussion is about the security response,” says Jerome Sainte-Marie, who heads the Paris-based opinion agency PollingVox. As elections near, he said, “the subject will be politicized. People will start talking about immigration, Islam and especially Europe.”

None offers an easy answer, especially in France, home to an estimated five million Muslims, Western Europe’s largest community. Only a tiny percentage have tilted to radical Islam.

On first glance, authorities say 31-year-old Bouhlel, who emigrated from Tunisia roughly a decade ago, did not appear one of them. They are still searching for his ties to the “Islamic State” group, which has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Yet after three major terrorist attacks in 18 months, public patience is wearing thin. As Prime Minister Manuel Valls and government ministers joined a minute of silence in Nice Monday, they were greeted with catcalls. “Murderers!” hecklers shouted, “resign!”

No confidence

A new IFOP survey, conducted after last week’s killings, also finds 67 percent of French have no confidence in the government’s handling of terrorism.

Unlike the Paris attacks – first in January, largely targeting the media and Jews, and then in November limited to the French capital – those in Nice have struck a broader chord, analyst Sainte-Marie said. “All French feel directly threatened,” he said.

With elections just nine months away, Hollande’s rivals are honing in on those fears.

“I know that we should not fight and tear each other apart when the victims aren’t yet buried,” former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who heads the main opposition Republicans party, told French TV. “But everything that should have been done over the past 18 months was not done.”

Former Prime Minister Alain Juppe, another presidential hopeful, offered similar words. “If everything had been done, this attack would not have happened,” he said.

For her part, far right leader Marine Le Pen, whose anti-immigration rhetoric is resonating more than ever, has gone further, calling on France’s interior minister to resign. “In any other country, a minister with a record as disgraceful as Bernard Cazeneuve’s… would have stepped down a long time ago,” she said.

Controversial measures

Measures French authorities have taken in recent months are proving controversial. Rights groups claim the state of emergency has led to abuses, such as arbitrary detentions, even as a parliamentary probe concluded the emergency measures have done little to deter terrorism.

Francois Heisbourg, a leading security analyst, has also lambasted the government’s response as insufficient and ineffective.

“How many dead and wounded, how many ravaged families, how many distressed French and stunned allies before our authorities pull themselves together – assuming that’s even possible?” he asked in a commentary in Le Monde newspaper.

Authorities claim the criticism is unfair, even as they warn fighting extremism will be a long slog.

“Until now, no government has done more to fight terrorism,” Interior Minister Cazeneuve and Prime Minister Valls said in a joint statement, complete with an avalanche of statistics. Valls later said a particularly bloody attack had been foiled just ahead of the Euro football championships.

Some agree that few measures are foolproof. “These attacks are becoming really personal,” says retired teacher Maryse Pinheiro, whose support for the left has not been shaken, pointing to the case of Nice. “They could happen anywhere in Europe. Nobody can foresee them.”

Yet analyst Sainte-Marie says the government’s own behavior sometimes hasn’t helped matters. He points to conflicting signals Hollande sent in recent days – first announcing, in a Bastille Day address, the state of emergency would be lifted this month. Then, hours after the carnage, calling for its renewal.

“It gives the impression of a president overwhelmed by events,” Sainte-Marie said, “someone who has lost control of them.”

France descending into militarized state ruled by fear

July 19, 2016

by Finian Cuningham


In the wake of the mass murder in French city of Nice, President Francois Hollande and his Prime Minister Manuel Valls have reiterated dire warnings that France is in a permanent state of war.

Valls quoted by Le Journal du Dimanche said: “I have always told the truth about terrorism: a war is underway, there will be more attacks. It’s hard to say, but other lives will be lost.”

Nine months ago, Hollande made similar grim forebodings of “France at war” following the Paris gun attacks in which 130 people were killed by five jihadist suicide attackers.

The State of Emergency declared after the November 13 atrocity was extended at the weekend by a further three months after 84 people were killed in Nice on Thursday night. In that attack a man plowed a 20-ton articulated truck into thousands of pedestrians watching the Bastille Day fireworks display in the French Riviera resort.

Some 120,000 police and troops are now reportedly deployed across France, up from the already record high level of 115,000 security personnel on alert during the Euro 16 football championship. A further 12,000 police reservists are being called called up.

It is now routine to see armed soldiers patrolling among shoppers and cafe goers along French city streets. Citizens have to submit to random checks on their bags, body pat downs and metal detector arches as they enter public buildings.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve is urging“all French patriots” to join the police or army reserves.

There are even demands from Marine Le Pen, the National Front leader, for the return of compulsory national service.

Over the past year, thousands of French citizens have been arrested or had their homes raided by police without warrants. Some 20,000 people are said to be under surveillance by French authorities.

The State of Emergency has also seen the government banning public demonstrations against unpopular legislation to curtail workers’ rights. That unprecedented infringement on civil liberties has been justified as a necessary “national security” measure to combat terror threats.

France has thus entered a permanent emergency state, marked by high levels of police powers and militarization of society, and the suspension of democratic rights and freedoms. This is merely a few degrees away from outright dictatorship.

Ironically, the latest atrocity in Nice occurred on the national July 14 Bastille Day holiday celebrating the French Revolution and its historic proclamation of “liberty, equality and fraternity”. It is a moot question as to how much “liberty” French citizens are allowed to avail of by the authorities in the purported war against terrorism.

Not in dispute here is the fact of terror attacks on France. The mass shootings at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 and the Paris massacre in November were clearly carried out by individuals with links to jihadist terror groups.

However, in the Nice atrocity it is far from clear what the motives of the killer were. Tunisian-born Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel (31) was said to be have deep psychological problems of depression and violence. Divorced and separated from his three children, his family said he was no “Islamist radical”. He reportedly drank alcohol and smoked during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and friends say he had never been inside a mosque during his entire life.

Islamist terror group Daesh (Islamic State) may have claimed Bouhlel was “a soldier of the caliphate” following the killings in Nice. But there is no evidence of an organizational connection, even according to French investigators. The terror group made similar claims about the shooter in the Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub massacre last month. It turned out that the Orlando attacker, too, suffered from psychological troubles totally unrelated to terrorism.

On the Nice attack, French police sources have even speculated that Bouhlel may have been motivated by a desire to commit suicide than by Islamist ideology, and decided to make his suicide look like a terror plot, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Despite the ambiguity, the French authorities are asserting that Nice was a terrorist event. Interior Minister Cazeneuve claims that the attacker was “quickly radicalized” even though he wasn’t on any terror watch list, albeit known to French police as a petty criminal.

Manuel Valls, the premier, makes the rather stilted assertion: “The claim on Saturday morning by Islamic State and the fact [sic] of the radicalization of the killer confirm the Islamist nature of the attack.”

It is probably easier for the French authorities to rationalize all such violent attacks as “terrorist”. That conceptual framing permits the authorities to assume more powers over democratic rights, without accountability. The terror framing also tends to bolster the legitimacy of the government and state security forces and to deflect public criticism and anger over what have been horrendous lapses in public safety.

But this trajectory in state power is in danger of becoming a self-reinforcing dynamic of increasing autocratic governance – dictatorship – where democracy, for all intents and purposes, ceases to exist. Even more disturbingly, this sinister watershed is hardly even questioned in public discourse.

The international aspect of the French government’s response is equally problematic. It has announced a stepwise increase in air strikes avowedly against terror groups in Syria and Iraq. French officials are reportedly traveling to Washington this week to coordinate greater military deployment in those two countries.

The French state, like its NATO partners, is plowing into a snake pit. The covert destabilizing of Syria (and Libya) for regime change involving the weaponization of terror proxies is a recipe for endless blowback. The subsequent “anti-terror” bombing of Arab countries in flagrant violation of international law is a further foot into the snake pit.

Without dealing with the root causes of political problems – the French complicity in sponsoring regime change and terrorism – there will never be a solution. It is an irrefutable axiom that there can be “no peace without justice” – the latter meaning in the widest sense abiding by law and and morality.

France is heading towards a militarized autocratic police state, not unlike Israel. Citizens are being conditioned to live permanently with fear and emergency powers that supplant democratic rights.

The analogy with Israel is appropriate. The Israeli usurpation of Palestinian rights and systematic violation of international law is another case of “no justice, no peace”.

French citizens, as with other Western countries, need to ask themselves: do we really want to live like this? That is, under a permanent siege of fear and arbitrary state power that is also expressing itself in despotism, as seen in the banning of public protest to cuts in workers’ rights and economic austerity policies.

It may not lead to an immediate eradication of terrorism, but the way forward is for citizens to demand accountability of their governments. Washington, London and Paris – the chief NATO powers – must not be allowed to trample on international law by launching wars and covert plots for regime change in sovereign countries.

Western governments and political leaders must be prosecuted for crimes against peace. When have they ever?

This is the only way to break the vicious cycle of state-sponsored terrorism, blowback and alleged “counter-terrorism”.

If citizens don’t impose their democratic will on rogue governments the cycle is a descent into fascist dictatorship. And France seems to be well on the way to this dystopia.

RNC Headliners Avoid Talking About Jobs and Donald Trump on Day to Talk About Jobs and Trump

July 19, 2016

by Zaid Jilani

The Intercept

Tuesday was “Make America Work Again” day at the Republican National Convention, which also happened to coincide with the party formally nominating Donald Trump as its nominee.

But neither jobs nor Trump got much attention as a grab bag of Republican headliners Tuesday spent most of their time demonizing Hillary Clinton and talking about themselves without offering an affirmative case for the nominee or a concrete economic policy agenda.

The keynoter, House Speaker Paul Ryan, spoke nearly 1,500 words, but mentioned Trump’s name just twice. Promising he’ll be standing alongside “Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump” at next year’s State of the Union address, Ryan spent the lion’s share of his time castigating the Democratic Party instead.

He told attendees that “only with Mike Pence and Donald Trump do we have a chance for a better way.” The “better way” was not specified.

“Watch the Democratic Party convention next week, that four-day infomercial of politically correct moralizing,” Ryan said instead, encouraging a divided Republican Party to head to the polls. “And let it be a reminder of all that is at stake in this election.”

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, similarly appeared under a giant screen proclaiming the day’s slogan:

But he offered no economic policies. Instead, he immediately launched into a speech about perceived flaws in Hillary Clinton’s testimony about the Benghazi tragedy, and then pivoted to rhetoric about “Islamic terrorists.” He castigated his own opponent, former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, for opposing the USA Patriot Act and for voting “against authorizing our military 11 separate times” — a message that clashes with Trump’s own scorn for the Iraq and Libya wars.

Trump’s name was mentioned just once in Johnson’s speech: “Donald Trump and Mike Pence, … they’ll be strong leaders, working with Republicans in the House and Senate to achieve a goal that will unite us all: a safe and prosperous and secure America.” He offered no explanation of how Trump would be qualified to do any of this.

Johnson was followed by Chris Cox, the head of the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm. Cox’s address never mentioned jobs at all — not even for the gun industry.

“Voting for Hillary Clinton, or not voting, is not an option!” Cox bellowed, possibly aiming his remarks at conservatives who are wary of voting for Trump, whose views on gun rights are constantly shifting. As for Trump’s qualifications, Cox had nothing to say.

A handful of non-politicians spoke about Trump as a person, including two of his children, the manager of the Trump winery, and the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Support for Trump in unexpected places

The stereotypical white, male, angry Americans are not the only ones voting for Donald Trump. His supporters include students, women and ethnic minorities. Romina Spina finds out why he appeals to them.

July 20, 2016


Donald Trump’s formidable rise to become the Republican nominee left many onlookers scratching their heads in disbelief. How could this unlikely candidate galvanize voters across the nation?

At home and abroad, many have questioned the electorate’s judgement. Polls and studies soon found that his core supporters were mostly white, male, less-educated and less affluent citizens.

But Trump’s appeal has an extensive reach. In fact, it cuts through demographic boundaries to include even some of the least likely voters, such as students, women, African Americans, Latinos and Muslims.

Simple solutions

Dolores Newsuan is one of them. At first sight, she couldn’t be more different than a typical Trump supporter. As a consultant, she passionately advocates for small businesses owned by women, Latinos and African Americans on Capitol Hill, working on access to capital and on a new tax strategy to help them thrive. A proud African-American herself, she has been politically active since her teenage years and identifies as a lifelong Republican.

These days, she is a member of the group “Women for Trump.” And she isn’t the only Trump supporter in her household – her husband, a Latino, is voting for him too.

“We gave the establishment Republicans time and money and votes, and they failed,” Newsuan told DW. She now supports Trump mainly because she wants to see change in Washington and believes he’s the only one capable of delivering what is “good for America.”

That line of thinking runs through all types of voters from diverse backgrounds who are endorsing the 70-year-old business magnate. They say they’re fed up with politicians who are only concerned about getting re-elected.

As a political outsider, Trump has moved swiftly to fill the perceived void. Less bound by rules and conventions, he quickly set himself apart from his competitors. And unlike a politician, he can offer quick fixes to some pressing problems. Most voters don’t weigh the complexity of single issues when they consider candidates.

“So they like his ‘common sense’ solutions. People think that politicians make things complicated, and Trump is not,” says Jason McDaniel, a political scientist who studies voting behavior at San Francisco State University. Both these factors have broadened Trump’s appeal beyond his main support base, reaching small portions of the female, African American and Latino electorate among others, McDaniel told DW.

A survey by RAND, which follows voters’ attitudes over time, concluded that Trump appealed especially to those who felt they didn’t have a voice in government, researcher Michael Pollard said in an interview with DW.

His slogan – to make America great again and to put Americans first – resonates with supporters regardless of their backgrounds. The message struck a chord with Newsuan, as she told DW that it was “time for Americans to have their justice.” She referred to those who had been left behind “in the ghetto [blacks], the trailer park [whites] and the barrio [Latinos],” who were born in the country and were there legally.

Necessary wall

Newsuan shrugs off Trump’s most controversial remarks, which have alienated many voters from diverse backgrounds. Still, some other members of these groups remain unfazed by his comments or praise his willingness to speak his mind.

They also believe his plans to build a wall along the Southern border to Mexico or to ban non-American Muslims from entering the United States are necessary to keep the country safe. His uncompromising stance on national security and defense is appealing to them because it suggests strong leadership.

Asked if Trump was a racist, Francisco Semião denied it and blamed the media for trying to make him look bad. “He’s not anti-Latino, he’s just being sensible about immigration,” he told DW. Being half Latino and half Portuguese, he has strong ties to both communities in his native Washington, DC. And while he can understand how Central Americans try to cross the border in search of a better life, he says that they are still breaking the law.

Semião grew up poor, too, but eventually went to graduate school and today, at 46, makes a comfortable salary working in health care management. In many ways, he embodies the American Dream. Trump is his candidate of choice, though in 2008 he voted for Barack Obama and four years later for Mitt Romney. Among other things, he values the entrepreneur’s experience in business and his understanding of the economy.

Lawyer Saba Ahmed also feels Donald Trump’s background could help to overcome economic challenges. The softly-spoken 31-year old, who moved to Oregon from Pakistan as a young child, runs the Republican Muslim Coalition and is drumming up support to get the nominee elected instead of Hillary Clinton. She is critical of any policies that harm her fellow Muslims, but when asked about Trump’s statements on both Muslims and women, she told DW that no candidate was perfect and that lately he had toned down his rhetoric.

Facing insults

At times, Trump supporters are the ones facing insults. Sarah Hagmayer, a college student from New Jersey, told DW that it takes courage to walk around wearing a Trump T-shirt, although verbal attacks have only strengthened her resolve to back him. With others, she leads a group that reaches out to fellow students on campuses across the country, encouraging them to support Trump.

Newsuan also said that supporters like her often get ridiculed, and while she could handle the attacks, there were many others who remained silent about their voting preferences. But they wouldn’t change their minds, she said. “They are in the closest and they will come out and vote for Donald Trump.”

Me Tarzan, You Adam

How I Met the Ghosts of My Own Work in a Local Multiplex

by Adam Hochschild


Some time ago I wrote a book about one of the great crimes of the last 150 years: the conquest and exploitation of the Congo by King Leopold II of Belgium. When King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa was published, I thought I had found all the major characters in that brutal patch of history. But a few weeks ago I realized that I had left one out: Tarzan.

Let me explain. Although a documentary film based on my book did appear, I often imagined what Hollywood might do with such a story. It would, of course, have featured the avaricious King Leopold, who imposed a slave labor system on his colony to extract its vast wealth in ivory and wild rubber, with millions dying in the process. And it would surely have included the remarkable array of heroic figures who resisted or exposed his misdeeds. Among them were African rebel leaders like Chief Mulume Niama, who fought to the death trying to preserve the independence of his Sanga people; an Irishman, Roger Casement, whose exposure to the Congo made him realize that his own country was an exploited colony and who was later hanged by the British; two black Americans who courageously managed to get information to the outside world; and the Nigerian-born Hezekiah Andrew Shanu, a small businessman who secretly leaked documents to a British journalist and was hounded to death for doing so. Into the middle of this horror show, traveling up the Congo River as a steamboat officer in training, came a young seaman profoundly shocked by what he saw. When he finally got his impressions onto the page, he would produce the most widely read short novel in English, Heart of Darkness.

How could all of this not make a great film?

I found myself thinking about how to structure it and which actors might play what roles. Perhaps the filmmakers would offer me a bit part. At the very least, they would undoubtedly seek my advice. And so I pictured myself on location with the cast, a voice for good politics and historical accuracy, correcting a detail here, adding another there, making sure the film didn’t stint in evoking the full brutality of that era. The movie, I was certain, would make viewers in multiplexes across the world realize at last that colonialism in Africa deserved to be ranked with Nazism and Soviet communism as one of the great totalitarian systems of modern times.

In case you hadn’t noticed, that film has yet to be made. And so imagine my surprise, when, a few weeks ago, in a theater in a giant mall, I encountered two characters I had written about in King Leopold’s Ghost. And who was onscreen with them? A veteran of nearly a century of movies — silent and talking, in black and white as well as color, animated as well as live action (not to speak of TV shows and video games): Tarzan.

The Legend of Tarzan, an attempt to jumpstart that ancient, creaking franchise for the twenty-first century, has made the most modest of bows to changing times by inserting a little more politics and history than dozens of the ape man’s previous adventures found necessary. It starts by informing us that, at the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, the European powers began dividing up the colonial spoils of Africa, and that King Leopold II now holds the Congo as his privately owned colony.

Tarzan, however, is no longer in the jungle where he was born and where, after his parents’ early deaths, he was raised by apes. Instead, married to Jane, he has taken over his ancestral title, Lord Greystoke, and has occupied his palatial manor in England. (Somewhere along the line he evidently took a crash course that brought him from “Me Tarzan, you Jane” to the manners and speech of a proper earl.)

But you won’t be surprised to learn that Africa needs him badly. There’s a diamond scandal, a slave labor system, and other skullduggery afoot in Leopold’s Congo. A bold, sassy black American, George Washington Williams, persuades him to head back to the continent to investigate, and comes along as his sidekick. The villain of the story, Leopold’s top dog in the Congo, scheming to steal those African diamonds, is Belgian Captain Léon Rom, who promptly kidnaps Tarzan and Jane.  And from there the plot only thickens, even if it never deepens.  Gorillas and crocodiles, cliff-leaping, heroic rescues, battles with man and beast abound, and in the movie’s grand finale, Tarzan uses his friends, the lions, to mobilize thousands of wildebeest to storm out of the jungle and wreak havoc on the colony’s capital, Boma.

With Jane watching admiringly, Tarzan and Williams then sink the steamboat on which the evil Rom is trying to spirit the diamonds away, while thousands of Africans lining the hills wave their spears and cheer their white savior. Tarzan and Jane soon have a baby, and seem destined to live happily ever after — at least until The Legend of Tarzan II comes along.

History Provides the Characters, Tarzan the Vines

Both Williams and Rom were, in fact, perfectly real people and, although I wasn’t the first to notice them, it’s clear enough where Hollywood’s scriptwriters found them. There’s even a photo of Alexander Skarsgård, the muscular Swede who plays Tarzan, with a copy of King Leopold’s Ghost in hand. Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Williams with considerable brio, has told the press that the director, David Yates, sent him the book in preparation for his role.

A version of Batman in Africa was not quite the film I previewed so many times in my fantasies.  Yet I have to admit that, despite the context, it was strangely satisfying to see those two historical figures brought more or less to life onscreen, even if to prop up the vine swinger created by novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs and played most famously by Johnny Weissmuller. Williams, in particular, was a remarkable man. An American Civil War veteran, lawyer, journalist, historian, Baptist minister, and the first black member of the Ohio state legislature, he went to Africa expecting to find, in the benevolent colony that King Leopold II advertised to the world, a place where his fellow black Americans could get the skilled jobs denied them at home. Instead he discovered what he called “the Siberia of the African Continent” — a hellhole of racism, land theft, and a spreading slave labor system enforced by the whip, gun, and chains.

From the Congo, he wrote an extraordinary “open letter” to Leopold, published in European and American newspapers and quoted briefly at the end of the movie. It was the first comprehensive exposé of a colony that would soon become the subject of a worldwide human rights campaign. Sadly, he died of tuberculosis on his way home from Africa before he could write the Congo book for which he had gathered so much material. As New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis observed, “Williams deserves a grand cinematic adventure of his own.”

By contrast, in real life as in the film (where he is played with panache by Christoph Waltz), Léon Rom was a consummate villain. An officer in the private army Leopold used to control the territory, Rom is elevated onscreen to a position vastly more important than any he ever held. Nonetheless, he was an appropriate choice to represent that ruthless regime. A British explorer once observed the severed heads of 21 Africans placed as a border around the garden of Rom’s house. He also kept a gallows permanently erected in front of the nearby headquarters from which he directed the post of Stanley Falls. Rom appears to have crossed paths briefly with Joseph Conrad and to have been one of the models for Mr. Kurtz, the head-collecting central figure of Heart of Darkness.

The Legend of Tarzan is essentially a superhero movie, Spiderman in Africa (even if you know that the footage of African landscapes was blended by computer with actors on a sound stage in England). Skarsgård (or his double or his electronic avatar) swoops through the jungle on hanging vines in classic Tarzan style. Also classic, alas, is the making of yet another movie about Africa whose hero and heroine are white. No Africans speak more than a few lines and, when they do, it’s usually to voice praise or friendship for Tarzan or Jane. From The African Queen to Out of Africa, that’s nothing new for Hollywood.

Nonetheless, there are, at odd moments, a few authentic touches of the real Congo: the railway cars of elephant tusks bound for the coast and shipment to Europe (the first great natural resource to be plundered); Leopold’s private army, the much-hated Force Publique; and African slave laborers in chains — Tarzan frees them, of course.

While some small details are reasonably accurate, from the design of a steamboat to the fact that white Congo officials like Rom indeed did favor white suits, you won’t be shocked to learn that the film takes liberties with history.  Of course, all novels and films do that, but The Legend of Tarzan does so in a curious way: it brings Leopold’s rapacious regime to a spectacular halt in 1890, the year in which it’s set — thank you, Tarzan! That, however, was the moment when the worst of the horror the king had unleashed was just getting underway.

It was in 1890 that workers started constructing a railroad around the long stretch of rapids near the Congo River’s mouth; Joseph Conrad sailed to Africa on the ship that carried the first batch of rails and ties. Eight years later, that vast construction project, now finished, would accelerate the transport of soldiers, arms, disassembled steamboats, and other supplies that would turn much of the inland territory’s population into slave laborers. Leopold was by then hungry for another natural resource: rubber. Millions of Congolese would die to satisfy his lust for wealth.

Tarzan in Vietnam

Here’s the good news: I think I’m finally getting the hang of Hollywood-style filmmaking. Tarzan’s remarkable foresight in vanquishing the Belgian evildoers before the worst of Leopold’s reign of terror opens the door for his future films, which I’ve started to plan — and this time, on the film set, I expect one of those canvas-backed chairs with my name on it. Naturally, our hero wouldn’t stop historical catastrophes before they begin – there’s no drama in that — but always in their early stages.

For example, I just published a book about the Spanish Civil War, another perfect place and time for Tarzan to work his wonders. In the fall of 1936, he could swing his way through the plane and acacia trees of Madrid’s grand boulevards to mobilize the animals in that city’s zoo and deal a stunning defeat to Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s attacking Nationalist troops. Sent fleeing at that early moment, Franco’s soldiers would, of course, lose the war, leaving the Spanish Republic triumphant and the Generalissimo’s long, grim dictatorship excised from history.

In World War II, soon after Hitler and Stalin had divided Eastern Europe between them, Tarzan could have a twofer if he stormed down from the Carpathian mountains in late 1939, leading a vast pack of that region’s legendary wolves. He could deal smashing blows to both armies, and then, just as he freed slaves in the Congo, throw open the gates of concentration camps in both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. And why stop there? If, after all this, the Japanese still had the temerity to attack Pearl Harbor, Tarzan could surely mobilize the dolphins, sharks, and whales of the Pacific Ocean to cripple the Japanese fleet as easily as he sunk Léon Rom’s steamboat in a Congo harbor.

In Vietnam — if Tarzan made it there before the defoliant Agent Orange denuded its jungles — there would be vines aplenty to swing from and water buffalo he could enlist to help rout the foreign armies, first French, then American, before they got a foothold in the country.

Some more recent wartime interventions might, however, be problematic. In whose favor, for example, should he intervene in Iraq in 2003? Saddam Hussein or the invading troops of George W. Bush? Far better to unleash him on targets closer to home: Wall Street bankers, hedge-fund managers, select Supreme Court justices, a certain New York real estate mogul. And how about global warming? Around the world, coal-fired power plants, fracking rigs, and tar sands mining pits await destruction by Tarzan and his thundering herd of elephants.

If The Legend of Tarzan turns out to have the usual set of sequels, take note, David Yates: since you obviously took some characters and events from my book for the first installment, I’m expecting you to come to me for more ideas. All I ask in return is that Tarzan teach me to swing from the nearest vines in any studio of your choice, and let me pick the next battle to win.

Florida health department investigates possible local Zika transmission

July 19, 2016

by Michele Gershberg


New York-Florida health officials said on Tuesday they are investigating a case of Zika virus infection that does not appear to have stemmed from travel to another region with an outbreak.

The statement from the Florida Department of Health did not specify whether the Zika case was believed to have been transmitted via mosquito bite, sexual contact or other means.

The department said the case was reported in Miami-Dade County and that it is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on an epidemiological study.

The department also reiterated guidance to Florida residents on protecting themselves from mosquitoes that may carry the virus.

“Zika prevention kits and repellant will be available for pickup … and distributed in the area under investigation,” the health department said in a statement. “Mosquito control has already conducted reduction and prevention activities in the area of investigation.”

Zika, which can cause a rare birth defect and other neurological conditions, has spread rapidly through the Americas. A small number of cases of Zika transmitted between sexual partners have also been documented.

There has yet to be a case of local transmission by mosquitoes in the continental United States, though more than 1,300 people in the country have reported infections after traveling to a Zika outbreak area.

U.S. officials have predicted local outbreaks to begin as the weather warms, particularly in southern states such as Florida and Texas.

(Reporting by Michele Gershberg in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Bernard Orr)












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