ANKARA, Turkey – U.S.-based Bloomberg news agency says Turkish prosecutors are seeking up to five-year jail terms for two of its Istanbul-based reporters over their report on last year’s currency crisis.
Bloomberg said late Thursday that Kerim Karakaya and Fercan Yalinkilic have been accused of trying to undermine Turkey’s economic stability over a story they wrote in August 2018.
The news agency also says that prosecutors have charged 36 others for their social media comments on the story because they deemed them to be critical of Turkey’s economy.
Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait condemned the indictment and defended the reporterse for reporting “fairly and accurately on newsworthy events.”
He added that the agency will “support them throughout this ordeal.”
The first hearing of the trial is scheduled for Sept. 20.
The man accused of shooting David Ortiz in a botched $8,000 hit job claimed from jail Thursday that the baseball legend wasn’t his intended target — but he got confused by the retired slugger’s clothes.
“It wasn’t David, it wasn’t for David … Was confused,” Rolfi Ferreira Cruz shouted to journalists in Spanish through the bars of a police holding cell in the Dominican Republic, according to local outlet El Caribe.
The 25-year-old claimed he was thrown off by the colors of Ortiz’s duds, Listin Diario reported.
The former Red Sox player, a 10-time All-Star and three-time World Series champ, is the most famous athlete from his native Dominican Republic. And at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, he definitely stands out.
Ferreira Cruz’s bizarre admission comes a day after local authorities alleged the former New Jersey resident had confessed to being the gunman who shot Ortiz Sunday in what they said was an orchestrated hit for a bounty of $7,832.
Video released by authorities Thursday shows the shooter walking up to the Dial Bar and Lounge in Santo Domingo and open fire on the 43-year-old at nearly point-blank range.
Ortiz was wounded, but survived after a friend rushed him to the emergency room. Ortiz was later flown to Boston, where he was still recovering Thursday.
The video — pieced together from surveillance footage — also shows the moments leading up to the shooting, allegedly depicting motorcycle driver Eddy Vladimir Feliz García meeting with other suspects in the case near the bar.
Witnesses said the gunman drove up on the back of Feliz García’s motorbike before the shooting — and tried to get back on, but fled when enraged bar-goers surrounded the vehicle, according to court papers.
Ferreira Cruz was already on the lam over two 2017 robberies in New Jersey, where he allegedly stuck up a 26-year-old man and a 41-year-old man on the same evening, the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to The Post Thursday.
The owner of a bodega near the site of one of the robberies said she and her husband recognized his mug shot after the arrest in the Dominican Republic.
“We were watching TV the other night and my husband say, ‘Hey, I know him!’ ” Magda Cruz, 41, said at her mini-mart on Highland Avenue in Clifton.
“I recognize him. He lives around here. He was a customer. He came in regularly. Not for the last year … He went back to the Dominican Republic.”
Another suspect in the shooting, Luis Alfredo Rivas Clase, was arrested in Passaic County in 2016 for allegedly driving around with an illegal machine gun and a high capacity magazine, authorities said. At the time, he was living in Queens, according to the sheriff’s office.
Rivas Clase — who Dominican authorities say is known as “The Surgeon” — also is wanted in connection with an April 2018 shooting in Reading, Pa. He remains at large in the Ortiz case.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a summit in Kyrgyzstan and reaffirmed Beijing’s willingness to develop ties with the country even as the U.S. placed the blame squarely on Tehran for the attack on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.
Xi met with Rouhani privately at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Bishkek, Reuters reported. The Chinese leader promised to develop the relationship no matter how the situation changes.
He recently told TASS news agency that Washington is putting “extreme pressure” on Iran and the “situation is worrying.”
President Trump has taken a tough stance on both China and Iran in recent months. The U.S. is locked in a duel with Beijing on trade, with both countries appearing to be dug in for a long fight. The Trump administration has threatened to impose additional tariffs on $325 billion of Chinese exports if there’s no deal reached at this month’s G20 in Japan.
Trump has said he wants to talk to Tehran but the U.S. has piled on sanctions that have seen Iran’s rial currency plummet along with its crucial oil exports. The U.S. also has sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region, along with hundreds more troops to back up the tens of thousands already deployed across the Middle East.
The meeting between Xi and Rouhani occurred as tensions between the U.S. and Iran appear to be worsening. The U.S. released footage late Thursday it said shows Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from an oil tanker that was attacked near the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. claims that Iran sought to remove evidence from the scene. The footage is of the ship, Kokuka Courageous. The ship’s crew reported the “flying objects” prior to the attack.
Yutaka Katada, the president of shipping company, told the Associated Press that he believes the objects observed by the sailors were bullets. He also said the damage was above the ship’s waterline, hence mines or torpedoes would likely not be the culprit. He called the U.S. mine report “false.”
Katada said the crew did spot an Iranian naval ship nearby at around the time of the attack. A U.S. official told Fox News earlier that an Iranian gunboat approached the ship after the attack and removed the mine. The official, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive information, said the suspected Iranian vessel did not bear any flags, nor did the crew members wear any uniforms.
The Navy did not immediately respond to an email from Fox News early Friday about Katada’s claim. The attack occurred while Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The other ship attacked was the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair. Both were loaded with petroleum products. Both ships were abandoned and left adrift in the waters, Reuters reported.
A source told the news agency that the blast on Front Altair could have been a magnetic mine.
LONDON – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is expected to appear at hearing in a London court via video link as he continues his fight against extradition to the United States.
The 47-year-old Assange is currently in Belmarsh Prison on the outskirts of London serving a 50-week sentence for jumping bail in Britain.
He was too ill to appear at a recent hearing but is expected Friday to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court via video link.
U.S. officials have made clear their intention to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act, blaming him for directing WikiLeaks’ publication of a huge trove of secret documents that disclosed the names of people who provided confidential information to American and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Assange asserts that he is a journalist with First Amendment protections.
HANOI, Vietnam – Police have seized 7.5 tons of elephant ivory and pangolin scales in one of Vietnam’s biggest wild animal trafficking cases.
Vietnam News Agency reported the 3.5 tons of ivory and 4 tons of pangolin scales were found in barrels when customs officers checked a shipping container arriving at Hai Phong port in northern Vietnam.
The steel barrels containing the ivory and scales were mixed with ones containing tar to conceal the trafficked animal parts from customs authorities.
Police began a criminal investigation on Friday.
Poaching and trading of ivory tusks and pangolins carry penalties of up to 5 years in jail in Vietnam, but the country is also a common destination for trafficked wildlife parts.
FILE – In this June 4, 2019 file photo, Ecuadorian gay couple Javier Benalcazar, left, and Efrain Soria arrive to the Constitutional Court to hear the final decision on same sex marriage, before the decision was rescheduled by the court for a future date, in Quito, Ecuador. “If our marriage is approved we will be happy, and it will be our reward. If not, we will continue to fight.” Soria said. On Wednesday, June 12, 2019, Ecuador joined a half-dozen nations in Latin America formally recognize same-sex marriage. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa, File)
BOGOTA, Colombia – Despite a dark past, today many LGBT citizens in Latin America are enjoying the right to marry, choose their gender identity and adopt children. But while laws in several of the region’s biggest countries are changing that doesn’t necessarily translate into a broader societal shift toward acceptance.
Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court ruled Thursday that sexual orientation and gender identity should be included in the nation’s anti-discrimination law, providing a new layer of protection for LGBT people.
The decision comes at a sensitive moment in Brazil’s history: Leading the country is a president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has openly expressed his disdain for same-sex couples, going so far as to say he’d prefer to have a dead son than a gay one. Studies of homicide reports indicate Brazil is the most dangerous place in the world to be transgender.
Experts say Latin America needs to address long-standing cultural biases, racial and income inequality in order to make the region safer for LGBT people. Here’s a look at how far Latin America has advanced in protecting gay and transgender rights and what gaps in equality remain.
THE RIGHT TO BE GAY
Decades ago, several Latin American governments were ruled by iron-fisted governments that considered homosexuality a scourge to the silenced.
In Argentina, a far-right military dictatorship disappeared tens of thousands of suspected leftist dissidents. Advocates have long contended that gay activists suffered disproportionately, though their cases have received far less attention.
In the late 1970s during Brazil’s military regime, a nascent LGBT community was similarly muted by a government with strict censorship laws that pushed gay publications and demonstrators to quit or go underground.
Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas penned an anguishing account of the harassment and confinement he endured as a gay man in post-revolutionary Cuba, where homosexuality was seen as a remnant of the detested bourgeoisie.
Today most Latin American nations no longer consider homosexuality a crime, but in the Caribbean that is not the case. In former British colonies like Jamaica, a law declaring the “abominable crime of buggery” punishable with up to 10 years in jail remains on the books.
Activists have presented several legal challenges and are optimistic such laws will soon be obsolete.
“In all those countries organizing is happening,” said Mauro Cabral Grinspan, executive director of the Global Action for Trans Equality advocacy group. “And I really believe that we are going to see change in the next five years.”
Today a half-dozen nations in Latin America formally recognize same-sex marriage, with Ecuador joining the list on Wednesday.
Argentina was the first country in Latin America to approve gay unions and today has some of the most progressive LGBT policies in the world.
A handful of other cities and nations grant similar benefits but do not accept gay marriage.
There are various influences driving what scholars like Bard College professor Omar Encarnacion refer to as “Latin America’s gay rights revolution.”
He points to both a new surge in activism that followed the end of Latin America’s military dictatorships and the fading sway of Catholicism.
While four of every 10 Catholics worldwide reside in the region, they are no longer a majority in several countries, according to the Pew Research Center. The number identifying as non-Catholic Christians in turn has soared.
Some worshippers are fleeing the pews entirely while others are migrating to evangelical churches offering more contemporary services.
A widening gulf from the Catholic Church has made it easier for some political and community leaders to back policies like gay marriage.
“Unquestionably, Latin America is the champion of LGBT rights in the Global South,” Encarnacion said, referring to low and middle income nations.
GAY RIGHTS REVOLUTION
In a few places, the wave of activism is going beyond marriage to grant rights like allowing more expansive definitions of gender identity and permitting same-sex couples to expand their families by subsidizing in vitro fertilization.
Argentina is particular is considered a global pioneer in expanding LGBT rights and has one of the region’s most open gender identity laws. Individuals who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth can change it without authorization from a doctor or a judge.
More and more Latin American nations are also allowing LGBT people to serve in the military.
Before Brazil’s recent Supreme Court ruling, several countries already had anti-discrimination laws on the books that included protections for gender and sexual orientation.
Javier Corrales, a political science professor at Amherst College, said despite the ruling’s shortcomings it has important implications.
“It conveys to all actors the importance of respecting sexual and gender diversity,” he said. “Brazil is not the first. But it is not late.”
Even as laws change, scholars and advocates are quick to note that discrimination and violence remain rampant across the region.
South American nations like Brazil, countries in Central America and the Caribbean in particular are signaled out as poor environments for LGBT people.
According to the rights group the Grupo Gay da Bahia, 420 LGBT people were killed across Brazil in 2018, while at least 141 have been killed so far this year.
“Crime is complex,” Corrales said. “And it requires more than good laws.”
Evangelical groups that helped buoy Bolsonaro to the presidency remain an influential bloc likely to continue resisting any legislative initiatives.
Overall, it remains to be seen how strictly Brazil will enforce its anti-discrimination law.
Cabral Grinspan said many in the LGBT community are skeptical of criminalizing homophobia because it gives power to distrusted institutions like the judiciary. Rather than boosting a sense of security, the activist fears the new measure will be utilized as another way for police to put poor Brazilians behind bars, without addressing the root causes of violence and harassment against gay and transsexual individuals.
“It’s giving more power to corrupted police institutions,” Cabral Grinspan said, “and doesn’t contribute at all to social change.”
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The Latest on Mideast developments amid rising tensions in the Persian Gulf region (all times local):
Saudi Arabia says its military intercepted five drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeting the kingdom.
Military spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki said early Friday that the drones targeted Abha regional airport and Khamis Mushait.
Al-Maliki in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency said that the drone attack showed the Houthis were targeting civilian infrastructure in the kingdom.
U.N. experts, the West and Gulf Arab nations say Iran arms the Houthis with weapons. Tehran denies that.
The kingdom says a similar attack Wednesday on the Abha airport wounded 26 people.
It is just the latest in a wave of rebel drone and missile attacks targeting the kingdom, which has been mired in a yearslong war in Yemen that has killed an estimated 60,000 people and pushed the Arab world’s poorest nation to the brink of famine.
The development comes as tensions are rising in the Persian Gulf region.
The U.S. military’s Central Command has released a video is says shows Iranian forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the two ships suspected to have been attacked near the Strait of Hormuz.
It released the black-and-white footage early Friday morning.
Capt. Bill Urban, a Central Command spokesman, said a Revolutionary Guard patrol ship removed the limpet mine from the Kokuka Courageous.
Iran has denied involvement in Thursday’s suspected attacks amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S.
Urban said in a statement the attacks “are a clear threat to international freedom of navigation and freedom of commerce.”
He added: “The United States has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. However, we will defend our interests.”
Riot police check the bags of protesters outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, Thursday, June 13, 2019. After days of silence, Chinese state media is characterizing the largely peaceful demonstrations in Hong Kong as a “riot” and accusing protesters of “violent acts.” (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
HONG KONG – Calm appeared to have returned to Hong Kong after days of protests by students and human rights activists opposed to a bill that would allow suspects to be tried in mainland Chinese courts.
The prospect of further protests over the weekend loomed large, however, with demonstrators saying they were determined to prevent the administration of Beijing-appointed Chief Executive Carrie Lam from pushing through the legal amendments they see as eroding Hong Kong’s cherished legal autonomy.
Traffic flowed on major thoroughfares that had been closed after a protest by hundreds of thousands of people on Sunday, posing the biggest political challenge yet to Lam’s two-year-old government. Protesters had kept up a presence through Thursday night, singing hymns and holding up signs criticizing the police for their handling of the protests.
An Iranian vessel removed an unexploded mine that had been attached to a Japanese-owned oil tanker which suffered serious damage after an explosion in the Gulf of Oman early Thursday, U.S. officials told Fox News.
The U.S. military possessed video of the incident and has planned to release it, the official added. The imagery came from the USS Bainbridge, a guided-missile destroyer which rescued 21 sailors from the stricken tanker.
At least one other mine attached to tanker’s hull detonated, causing the blast. It happened near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a key route for oil shipments in the region.
A U.S. official told Fox News an Iranian gunboat approached the Kokuka Courageous later in the day and removed the unexploded triangular-shaped limpet mine, the same type of mine used to damage four other tankers in the Gulf of Oman last month.
The official, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive information, said the suspected Iranian vessel did not bear any flags, nor did the crew members wear any uniforms. But, the class of vessel, what the U.S. military has called a fast inshore attack craft (FIAC), was the same type of ship used by Iran to harass American warships in the Persian Gulf in recent years.
Other Iranian small boats have remained near the stricken oil tanker since the attack early Thursday, the official added.
The official said the order to abandon ship was given after the tanker’s captain spotted the unexploded mine, not because of the fire aboard the ship.
Another tanker, a Norwegian-owned vessel called the Front Altair, also was attacked in the Gulf of Oman Thursday. Its crew was being held in Iran, according to U.S. officials.
“This is what we’re out here for,” Cmdr. M. Kathryn Devin, the USS Bainbridge’s commanding officer, said of the rescues. “Our mission is to ensure maritime safety and to answer the call for aid when we can.”
SAO PAULO – Brazilian soccer star Neymar spent about five hours at a police station Thursday to undergo questioning about rape allegations against him.
Prosecutor Flavia Merlini told journalists that the player “denies the accusations and responded (to questions) in a satisfactory way.”
The woman who has accused him of raping her at a Paris hotel last month already spoke with police in Sao Paulo, which is where she filed her complaint.
Neymar was accompanied by his lawyers to the meeting Thursday.
“He answered all the questions,” Merlini said. “From now on the investigator will take other necessary measures until the conclusion of the probe. Since the probe is secret, we cannot tell about those measures.”
Just before departing in the evening, Neymar said, “The truth appears, sooner or later.” He also thanked fans for their support.
Wearing a black suit, the player was using crutches because of an injured right ankle when he arrived at the station at midafternoon. Investigator Juliana Bussacos met him at the entrance amid a media frenzy while a crowd of nearly 200 fans cheered the 27-year-old Neymar, who is Brazil’s most recognizable player.
The player is being investigated separately in Rio de Janeiro for publishing images of his accuser on social media without her authorization.
The Associated Press doesn’t name alleged sexual assault victims unless they make their identities public, which 26-year-old model Najila Trindade did in interviews with Brazilian television.
Also Thursday, Trindade reported that she had picked her fourth lawyer to handle the case. The previous three decided to leave the case.
Neymar’s jet flew into Sao Paulo’s Congonhas airport and he was driven to the police station in a black van. The player came from his mansion in the city of Mangaratiba, outside Rio de Janeiro.