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Turkish police detain demonstrators as they protest the death of a Kurdish inmate, in Diyarbakir
Turkish police detain demonstrators as they protest the death of a Kurdish inmate, in Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar

March 18, 2019

By Umit Ozdal

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) – Turkish police fired water canons and detained some members of a group of about 100 that attempted on Monday to visit the grave of a member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who died in prison, a Reuters witness said.

The PKK member, Zulkuf Gezen, had been sentenced in 2010 to life in jail for links to a bombing in 2007 that killed one and injured six, according to media reports. He was jailed in the northwestern province of Tekirdag where initial findings showed he committed suicide, the local prosecutor’s office said.

The group of people heading to visit Gezen’s grave in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir were blocked by police who fired a water canon on them, according to Reuters footage from the scene. The crowd chanted, “We will win by resisting,” before some were detained by police and taken away.

Police said the group included Sezai Temelli, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and other lawmakers from his party. The lawmakers were allowed entrance to the cemetery but not the whole group, police said.

Ten people were detained after security forces called for the group to disperse and some responded by throwing rocks, police added.

The HDP has said hundreds of prisoners in Turkish jails have been on hunger strike to protest the prison isolation of Abdullah Ocalan, the head of the PKK. Gezen was also on hunger strike and committed suicide to protest the isolation, the party said.

“We invite those in power to act responsibly and realize the request to lift the isolation and the public to be sensitive before a similar pain is experienced,” the HDP said on Twitter.

The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has waged an insurgency in Turkey since the 1980s. Some 40,000 have been killed in the conflict.

Ankara accuses the HDP of ties to the PKK. The HDP denies direct links.

HDP lawmaker Leyla Guven was the first to go on hunger strike. She was released from prison in January after spending a year in custody on charges of terrorism leadership and propaganda for her opposition to Turkey’s incursion into northwest Syria’s Afrin region. She still faces trial and up to 31 years in jail.

(Reporting by Umit Ozdal; Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)

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A Tupolev Tu-22M3 strategic bomber drops bombs during the Aviadarts competition at the Dubrovichi range outside Ryazan
FILE PHOTO: A Tupolev Tu-22M3 strategic bomber drops bombs during the Aviadarts competition, part of the International Army Games 2018, at the Dubrovichi range outside Ryazan, Russia August 4, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

March 18, 2019

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has decided to deploy nuclear-capable Tupolev Tu-22M3 strategic bombers to the Crimean peninsula in response to the U.S. rolling out missile defense systems in Romania, the RIA news agency cited a senior Russian lawmaker as saying on Monday.

Russia plans to station the bombers at the Gvardeyskoye air base in Crimea, Viktor Bondarev, head of the upper house of parliament’s defense and security committee, was quoted as saying.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and President Vladimir Putin flew into the Black Sea peninsula on Monday to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the annexation.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Andrew Osborn)

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Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with members of the public in Simferopol
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with members of the public in Simferopol, Crimea March 18, 2019. Yuri Kadobnov/Pool via REUTERS

March 18, 2019

MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin has signed into law tough new fines for Russians who spread what the authorities regard as fake news or who show “blatant disrespect” for the state online, an official portal for legal information showed on Monday.

Critics have warned that the legislation could create a mechanism for state censorship, but lawmakers say the new measures are needed to combat false news reports and abusive online comments.

The legislation grants authorities the power to block websites if they fail to comply with requests to remove information that the state deems to be factually inaccurate.

Under the new law, individuals can be fined up to 400,000 rubles ($6,100) for circulating false information online that leads to a “mass violation of public order”.

People who show “blatant disrespect” online for the state, the authorities, the public, the Russian flag or the constitution can be fined up to 100,000 rubles under the new legislation. Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to 15 days.

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; editing by Andrew Osborn)

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PGA: THE PLAYERS Championship - Final Round
Mar 17, 2019; Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA; Rory McIlroy celebrates winning THE PLAYERS Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass – Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

March 18, 2019

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy jumped two spots to No. 4 in the official world rankings on Monday, a day after claiming his first win in more than a year at The Players Championship.

Dustin Johnson tied for fifth at TPC Sawgrass to maintain his slim margin at the top over England’s Justin Rose, who managed to tie for eighth after rallying to make the cut. Brooks Koepka is No. 3, followed by McIlroy, who has steadily moved up since entering the year ranked eighth. He has yet to finish worse than a tie for sixth place in six events in 2019.

No. 5 Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau both moved down a spot, and were followed by Italy’s Francesco Molinari, Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Spain’s Jon Rahm in the top 10.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Australia’s Jason Day moved past Tiger Woods, who dropped to No. 13 following his T30 at The Players.

Former No. 1 Jordan Spieth missed the cut and continued his slide, falling another five spots to No. 30. He has three missed cuts and has not finished better than T35 in nine events since the second leg of last season’s FedEx Cup Playoffs.

The top 50 features 23 Americans and eight Englishmen.

–Phil Mickelson, who dropped a spot to No. 21 with his missed cut, has committed to the PGA Tour’s new stop in at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn., this summer. The July 4-7 event outside of Minneapolis takes place three weeks after the U.S. Open and two weekends before the British Open.

In a statement, Mickelson said the event was a “perfect slot” for his schedule.

–Field Level Media

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FILE PHOTO: Season opening of La Scala theatre in Milan
FILE PHOTO: A general view of the La Scala theatre before the season opening in Milan, Italy December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo/File Photo

March 18, 2019

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s La Scala opera house has decided to return more than 3 million euros ($3.4 million) in funding to Saudi Arabia after a plan to work closely with the country was widely criticized, including by members of the governing League party.

The Saudi proposal, which would have included giving a seat on the La Scala board to Saudi Arabia’s culture minister, had set off a furious row, with human rights groups and some politicians arguing that one of Italy’s most prestigious cultural institutions should shun Saudi money.

The deeply conservative Muslim kingdom has been accused of repeated rights abuses and has come under intense international scrutiny since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October.

The mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, who also chairs La Scala’s board, said the funds – part of a proposed 15-million euro five-year partnership deal with the Saudi culture ministry – had been deposited into an escrow account without the theater’s consent.

“We have unanimously decided to return the money,” Sala told reporters after a board meeting called to decide whether to accept the funding.

“Right now, going down this road is not possible,” he said.

Deputy prime minister and League leader Matteo Salvini had urged the opera house to reject the cash, while the governor of the Lombardy region – also a member of the League – called at the weekend for the dismissal of the opera house’s artistic director, Alexander Pereira.

Sala said Pereira, whose term at La Scala ends next year, would remain in his job

(Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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Ethiopian Federal policemen stand near engine parts at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu
FILE PHOTO – Ethiopian Federal policemen stand near engine parts at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

March 18, 2019

By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) – Investigators probing the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX jet eight days ago have found strong similarities in the ‘angle of attack’ data recorded by the doomed aircraft’s cockpit recorder and data from a Lion Air jet of the same model that crashed in October, a person familiar with the matter said.

Graphs of the two sets of data are “very, very simliar,” the person said on Monday, asking not to be identified because the matter is still in the early stages of investigation.

The angle is a key flight parameter that must remain narrow enough to preserve lift and avoid an aerodynamic stall.

A flight deck computer’s response to readings from an apparently faulty angle-of-attack sensor is at the centre of an ongoing probe into the Lion Air disaster.

The similarity between the two data readings on the Ethiopian and Lion Air flights will be subjected to further investigation, the person said.

Ethiopian and other investigators were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Editing by Georgina Prodhan)

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FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro listens to Paraguay's President Mario Abdo during a meeting at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia
FILE PHOTO: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro listens during a meeting at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/File Photo

March 18, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visited the Central Intelligence Agency’s headquarters on Monday, an unusual move for a foreign head of state that was not on the public agenda for his first official trip to Washington.

The visit underscored Bolsonaro’s embrace of U.S. influence in Latin America to confront what he calls a communist threat against democracy — a theme he remarked on during a dinner on Sunday evening with his ministers and right-wing thinkers.

Presidential advisers, including his official spokesman, had said during the dinner that his agenda on Monday morning would be kept private. But Bolsonaro’s son, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, revealed the visit in a Twitter post.

“Going now with the (president) and ministers to the CIA, one of the most respected intelligence agencies in the world,” he wrote. “It will be an excellent opportunity to discuss international topics in the region with experts and technicians of the highest level.”

The Brazilian president was scheduled to meet later on Monday with former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and deliver remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The CIA’s headquarters is in Langley, Virginia, near Washington.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Brazilian flag is seen next to a residential building under construction in Sao Paulo
FILE PHOTO: A Brazilian flag is seen next to a residential building under construction in Sao Paulo, Brazil April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

March 18, 2019

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, has turned bullish on Brazil, arguing that economic growth relative to potential will be the strongest in the world over the next year.

Conditions are now in place to reignite the anemic recovery from a 2015-16 recession: foreign debt levels are low, there is plenty room for real yields to fall and market pricing is too pessimistic, Bridgewater said in a note to clients last week.

“We expect that over the course of the next year, growth relative to potential will be the strongest in the world,” said strategists at the $160 billion, Connecticut-based fund.

“Given that pricing already discounts extreme weakness and (local political) mismanagement, we think there is considerable room for Brazil’s economy and assets to surprise on the upside,” they said, noting that failure to reform the social security system poses the biggest risk to their view.

They did not go into specifics on expected asset performance or allocation, but recent data suggests their optimism might be put to the test. Growth virtually ground to a halt in the fourth quarter last year and recent data shows that economic activity so far this year has been sluggish at best.

Interest rates have been anchored at a record-low 6.50 percent for a year and are expected stay there for most of this year. On balance, economists think the next rate move will eventually be higher, but traders of interest rate futures are betting rates will fall.

(Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Susan Thomas)

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FILE PHOTO: General view of the Danske Bank building in Copenhagen
FILE PHOTO: General view of the Danske Bank building in Copenhagen, Denmark, September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen/File Photo

March 18, 2019

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Last year was a low point for Danske Bank due to the massive money laundering scandal linked to its Estonian branch, but also a turning point for the Danish bank, its chairman told investors at an annual general meeting in Copenhagen on Monday.

“2018 became a low point for Danske Bank. But I also see it as a turning point,” Karsten Dybvad said, adding the bank began an internal dialogue about its role in society.

(Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Mark Potter)

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FILE PHOTO: Frans Timmermans, the newly elected Party of European Socialists President, speaks during the Party of European Socialists annual meeting in Lisbon
FILE PHOTO: Frans Timmermans, the newly elected Party of European Socialists President, speaks during the Party of European Socialists annual meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, December 8, 2018. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes/File Photo

March 18, 2019

BERLIN (Reuters) – The European Union and authorities around the world will have to regulate big technology and social media companies at some stage to protect citizens, the deputy head of the European Commission said on Monday.

First Vice President Frans Timmermans said introducing regulations would work better if online platforms, such as Google and Facebook, worked with authorities.

Big tech has been criticized by politicians in the United States and Europe over issues ranging from Facebook’s losing track of users’ data to how Google ranks search results.

“At some point, we will have to regulate,” Timmermans told the World Policy Forum in Berlin. “The first task of any public authority is to protect its citizens – and if we see you (tech giants) as a threat to our citizens, we will regulate and if you don’t work with us, we will probably regulate badly.”

Last month, the EU accused Alphabet’s Google, Facebook and Twitter of falling short of promises to combat fake news before the European Parliament elections in May, after they signed a voluntary code of conduct to stave off regulation.

Facebook said on Monday it would increase efforts to fight misinformation before the vote and would partner with German news agency DPA to boost fact checking.

Friday’s massacre in New Zealand has put social media giants in the spotlight. The assault in Christchurch was live-streamed by an attacker through his Facebook profile for 17 minutes, according to a copy seen by Reuters. Facebook said it removed the stream after being alerted by police.

Timmermans said pressure for regulation would come from beyond Europe. “I think globally there will be a call to regulate,” he said.

(Reporting by Paul Carrel; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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