Trial in Killing of Journalist Khashoggi Opens in Turkey

A trial of those charged in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi opened Friday in Turkey, but none of the 20 Saudi nationals accused in the killing were in attendance.The fiancee of Khashoggi, Hatice Cengiz, told the court in Istanbul that the accused used “great betrayal and deception” to lure the journalist to his death at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.Cengiz told reporters outside the courthouse that “we will continue seeking justice not just in Turkey but everywhere we can.”Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident, went to the consulate in 2018 to pick up documents that would allow him to marry Cengiz, who is Turkish. He was killed inside the consulate while Cengiz waited outside, sparking global outrage.The journalist, who wrote columns for The Washington Post, was a prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.The 20 defendants, including two former aides of the crown prince, have all returned to Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has rejected Turkey’s request for their extradition.Some of the men have been tried in Saudi Arabia behind closed doors.Turkish prosecutors allege the men were sent to Turkey from Riyadh to confront Khashoggi.Rogue operatives blamedSaudi Arabia has given varying accounts of Khashoggi’s disappearance, eventually saying the killing was the work of rogue operatives.The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has concluded with “medium to high confidence” that Crown Prince Mohammed ordered the killing. The crown prince denies he was involved.The remains of Khashoggi have not been found. Turkish and Saudi prosecutors allege the Saudi agents dismembered his body after the killing.A handyman at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Zeki Demir, told the Turkish court Friday that he had been asked to light a tandoor oven less than one hour after Khashoggi entered the building. He described the Saudi agents as having an “air of panic.”The trial was adjourned Friday until November 24.

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Canada’s Trudeau Unsure About Washington Trip, Citing Concern Over Tariffs

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday he was still unsure whether he would go to Washington next week to celebrate a new North American trade treaty, citing concern about possible U.S. tariffs on aluminum.Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is to meet U.S. President Donald Trump next week, has said he would like Trudeau to attend.Mexican sources had previously said Lopez Obrador’s visit was planned for Wednesday and Thursday, with the possibility of a trilateral meeting on Thursday.FILE – Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during an event to sign an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement, at the national palace in Mexico City, Dec. 10. 2019.”We’re still in discussions with the Americans about whether a trilateral summit next week makes sense,” Trudeau said in a news conference. “We’re obviously concerned about the proposed issue of tariffs on aluminum and steel that the Americans have floated recently.”U.S. national security tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, including from Canada and Mexico, were a major irritant during negotiations for the United States-Mexico-Canada trade deal, which was reached last year and entered into force on July 1.But now, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is considering domestic producers’ request to restore the 10% duty on Canadian aluminum to combat a surge of imports.Coronavirus concernsConcern about the “health situation and the coronavirus reality that is still hitting all three of our countries” is another factor in his decision on whether to go to Washington, Trudeau said.Also next week, Trudeau said he would hold a two-day virtual Cabinet retreat — without saying which days — to discuss how to prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19, among other things.The spread of the novel coronavirus has slowed steadily in Canada over the past eight weeks, but new cases are spiking in many U.S. states.As of July 2, Canada had recorded a total of 104,772 coronavirus cases, with 68,345 recovered and 8,642 deaths. 
 

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France’s Macron Picks Little-known Civil Servant as New Prime Minister

French President Emmanuel Macron named Jean Castex, a senior civil servant, as his new prime minister on Friday as he acted to recast his presidency and take back control of policy ahead of elections in 2022.Macron wants to start afresh after the coronavirus crisis reversed some of the hard-fought gains earned from moves to liberalize the economy, and is aware he needs to win back disillusioned voters.Outgoing premier Edouard Philippe gave Castex a “namaste” welcome greeting outside the prime minister’s Matignon office, having earlier tendered his government’s resignation ahead of an anticipated reshuffle.”The economic crisis is already here,” Castex said. “Priorities will therefore have to evolve, ways of working will have to be adapted. We will have to unite the nation to fight this crisis that is setting in.”Macron is reshaping his government as France grapples with the deepest economic slide since World War II, a sharp downturn that will shrink the economy by about 11% in 2020 and bring about big job losses.Castex, 55, hails from the center-right, a career technocrat with experience in local politics who most recently has been known as “Monsieur Deconfinement” for his role bringing the country out of lockdown measures.Also the mayor of Prades, a town in southwest France, he speaks with a local lilt and will help Macron connect with provincial France, Elysee insiders hope.Investors will be watching to see if Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who has overseen reforms to liberalize the economy and spent big to keep companies like Air France and Renault afloat during the crisis, keeps his job.FILE – French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the closing press conference at the G5 Sahel summit on June 30, 2020, in Nouakchott.”The return from summer holidays will be difficult, we must get ready,” Macron said on the eve of his government’s resignation.Taking controlPhilippe’s popularity had grown as he steered France through the coronavirus crisis with calm, leaving Macron with a tough decision over whether to jettison his prime minister and opt for a new team.As he did with Philippe, Macron plucked Castex from relative obscurity. The new prime minister, an alumni of France’s top administrative school for politicians and public servants, has held civil servant positions at all levels of government, including as a senior adviser to former President Nicolas Sarkozy.The appointment of a civil servant with a low profile showed “Macron’s willingness to exert full control over the policy agenda in the coming months,” said Antonio Barroso at risk advisory firm Teneo.An Elysee source confirmed Macron had imposed his choice of chief of staff on Castex but rejected suggestions this was an attempt to reduce Matignon’s influence over decision-making.LoyaltyMacron said in mid-June that he wanted to “reinvent” his presidency as France emerges from its coronavirus slump. Then came his party’s dire showing in nationwide municipal elections on June 28.The president’s first three years in office have been mired in social unrest and the elections showed surging support for the Green party and underlined Macron’s troubles connecting with ordinary folk. His ruling party failed to win a single big city, depriving the president of a local power base ahead of 2022.The most notable win was Philippe’s success in Le Havre. His exit from the government clears the way for him to be mayor of the northern port, from where he could emerge as a rival to Macron in two years.Macron aides said Macron and Philippe were leaving on warm terms. Philippe will be tasked with rebuilding Macron’s majority ahead of 2022, a sign Macron may want to ensure he keeps his former prime minister close to him.”I don’t think Philippe’s loyalty has ever been called into question,” the Elysee official said.

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English Pubs Are Reopening — They Won’t Be the Same

Asking people in English pubs to keep their distance is going to be tough after they’ve had a few of their favorite tipples.Pub managers will have to be resourceful come Saturday when they and other parts of the hospitality industry in England open their doors to customers for the first time since March 20, provided they meet COVID safety requirements.The British government has been accused of being reckless in allowing pubs to open again, given coronavirus infection and death rates are still high and amid evidence that reopening bars in countries like the U.S. has led to new outbreaks. The U.K. has recorded nearly 44,000 virus-related deaths, third behind the United States and Brazil.Closing Bars to Stop Coronavirus Spread is Backed by ScienceAlcohol lowers inhibitions, so people forget precautions, Natalie Dean, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Florida saysMany cash-starved pubs will take the plunge anyway, though they will be very different from what they were when they shut down given the need to ensure everyone is safe — from registering customers upon entrance to making sure tables are far enough apart to meet social distancing rules.”I’m nervous,” said Are Kolltveit, who runs the Chandos Arms in north London with his wife Emily. They have turned around the fortunes of the pub in the past few years by taking it back to the community, offering activities like live music — in addition to a finely poured pint of ale. It was voted Best Local in the 2019 British Pub Awards.”It won’t be the same, but we’ll do our best to make it just as great as ever,” he said.The pandemic is an existential threat to most of England’s 37,500 pubs. The Chandos, and countless others, have benefited from government measures, notably a wage support scheme that prevented mass firings. Around 90% of pub staff were furloughed under the scheme, according to the Beer and Pub Association.Reopening — as early as 6 a.m. if they wish, the government confirmed Friday — offers hope to publicans like Kolltveit, but margins are tight.Kolltveit wants to think people will abide by the rules, given the pandemic is still ongoing, and says his pub can survive for around five months without further help — provided it runs at 50% of maximum capacity and there’s no second spike in contagions or a new lockdown on businesses.”The best pubs are extensions of the landlord’s personality and the atmosphere of the pub is going to be massively challenged, but I think the best publicans will find ways of reinventing it in some way,” said Pete Brown, an award-winning beer writer.When they reopen, pubs will need to ensure table service, a move that halts the cherished tradition of the English boozer — crowding and chatting around the bar. Guests will be limited to groups of six and, where possible, sit side by side to reduce any risk of contagion that may come from shouting too loudly.They will be spaced at least one meter (3.3 feet) apart and be encouraged to take other measures to keep safe, such as using hand sanitizers. Wearing masks, even by staff, is optional.  Pub staff will also have to register the names of customers at the door — and keep them for 21 days — to assist in any efforts to trace virus contagions.Tim Sheehan, co-owner of Franklins, a pub and restaurant in southeast London, is annoyed by the effective enrolment of the hospitality industry in the effort to track and trace contagions and wonders how he is meant to verify anyone’s health or identity.”How many Mr. and Mrs. Presleys are we going to get? And how do you go about asking people personal questions?,” he said. “I’m dreading it in that respect.”He’s also concerned it will be “like New Year’s Eve” in some pubs, particularly those that cater to younger people, and that social distancing guidelines “may go out of the window after people have had a few shandies.””We are moving to the stage where the advice is to essentially use common sense,” said Jon Cross, a 40-year-old accountant in north London.”Most people will trust their local to make the right choices,” added Cross who said he’d happily frequent his local pub, The Wrestlers, if it isn’t busy.The guidelines are the same whatever the size and layout of the pub. But the challenges are likely to be very different for a huge venue like JD Wetherspoon’s The Moon Under Water in Manchester and a quaint country pub like The George at Burpham, tucked between a church and a cricket pitch in southern England.Pubs like The George are inherent to the rhythm of their rural surrounding. It is starting with an outside barbecue on Saturday, followed by a traditional Sunday roast service indoors and out.”Not since the Duke of Norfolk opened Arundel Railway Station on his land in August 1863 has a summer event been more eagerly awaited by Sussex locals than the re-opening of The George,” said Robert Essex, a 59-year-old marketing services executive and one of the locals who bought the pub in 2013.Not everyone is reopening. The Tollington Arms, a pub near Arsenal’s soccer stadium in north London thinks the government is ignoring expert scientific advice and voiced worries about “contributing to a second wave of this pandemic.”Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that people are “appreciably less likely now to be in close proximity” with someone with the virus and that the latest easing of the lockdown had been carefully thought through.”Let’s not blow it now,” he said.

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Blast Rocks Turkey Fireworks Factory

Turkish state media reports an explosion at a fireworks factory in northwestern part of the country.  The Associated Press reports there were between 150 to 200 people in the building at the time of the blast Friday. There were no immediate reports of casualties following the explosion in Sakarya province.Television video footage showed a huge cloud of smoke over the blast site. 

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2 Former Panama Presidents Charged with Money Laundering

Two former presidents of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli and Juan Carlos Varela, have been charged with money laundering in separate cases.After leaving the prosecutor’s office in Panama City on Thursday, Martinelli said he was angered by prosecutors continuing to link him to the so-called “New Business” case in which a publishing group was allegedly purchased with government money during his five-year term, ending in 2014.The French News Agency (AFP) said prosecutors accuse former President Juan Carlos Varela of taking illegal campaign donations from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht during his term ending in 2019.Varela has pledged to cooperate with prosecutors to clear his name.Both Martinelli and Varela share more than identical legal challenges.Martinelli won the 2009 election with Varela as his running mate, but their partnership collapsed when Varela was fired as foreign minister in 2011. 

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Colombia Arrests 8 More Suspects in Police Academy Car Bombing

Colombia has captured eight leftist rebels accused of killing at least 22 people in a bombing attack on a police academy.The National Liberation Army (ELN) claimed responsibility for the January 2019 car bombing in the capital Bogota. The rebel group claimed the attack was in retaliation for President Ivan Dugue’s refusal to respect a unilateral cease-fire declared by the leftist group in 2018.Duque on Thursday praised police and prosecutors for arresting those behind the terrorist attack.The eight suspects face multiple charges, including murder and financing terrorism.The latest arrests bring to 13 the number of people detained in connection to the bombing. 

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Mexico President Calls for Inquiry into Mass Killing at Drug Rehab Center

Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is calling for an evaluation of justice and police officials in Guanajuato state, where gunmen killed 26 people and wounded five others at an unlicensed rehabilitation center.Authorities said gunmen attacked the rehab center in the city of Irapuato in Guanajuato state on Wednesday.A day after the attack, Lopez Obrador called on the opposition-led Guanajuato government to launch an investigation saying, “The problem (violence, murders and gang confrontations) grew a lot, they let it grow and we’ll have to see if there is no criminal association between criminals and the authority.”Pedro Cortes, secretary of public security in Irapuato, said street-level drug dealers are known to seek shelter from drug gangs in the rehabilitation centers.The attack occurred northwest of Mexico City in an area where the Jalisco cartel has been part of a violent turf battle.The La Jornada newspaper said there have been four attacks since December on annexes in Irapuato, where people were abducted, some killed, and a building was set on fire. 

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Venezuelan President Reverses EU Ambassador’s Expulsion

Venezuela is expecting the European Union to take a more objective stance on events in the country after reversing its decision to expel the bloc’s ambassador.Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told local media Thursday that Caracas was making “a gesture” in order “not to hinder the dialogue with the European Union.” He said the government hopes “therefore, that there will also be gestures from Europe to have a much more objective position on the events in our country.”President Nicolas Maduro said the decision to rescind the expulsion was made after a joint communiqué was issued calling for a new stage of dialogue between EU High Representative Josep Borrell and Arreza.Maduro on Monday gave EU ambassador Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa 72 hours to leave the country, in response to European sanctions against 11 Venezuelans including a travel ban and a freeze on assets.Borrell condemned the expulsion, saying the EU would call Venezuela’s envoy to the bloc.Venezuela’s opposition-controlled parliament criticized the attempt to expel the EU ambassador as an “unacceptable expulsion.”   

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