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U.S. decries Washington brawl during Turkish president’s visit

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(Last Updated On: May 18, 2017)

1060x600-bfcd8aed10822af2b01b6d81062fa29eThe United States said on Wednesday it was voicing its “strongest possible” concern to Turkey over a street brawl that erupted between protesters and Turkish security personnel during President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Washington, D.C.

Turkey blamed the violence outside its ambassador’s residence on demonstrators linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but Washington’s police chief called it a “brutal attack” on peaceful protesters.

Police said 11 people were injured, including a Washington police officer, and two people were arrested for assault. At least one of those arrested was a protester.

“We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

A video posted online showed men in dark suits chasing anti-government protesters and punching and kicking them as police intervened. Two men were bloodied from head wounds as bystanders assisted dazed protesters.

Washington Police Chief Peter Newsham told a news conference on Wednesday police had a good idea of most of the assailants’ identities and were investigating with the Secret Service and State Department.

One of the men arrested, Jalal Kheirabadi, told Reuters he was being beaten by three or four people when a D.C. police officer accused him of assault. He spoke by phone on Wednesday night after he was released pending a June court hearing.

Kheirabadi, 42, of Fairfax, Virginia, said he attended the protest to urge the United States to continue its support for Kurdish forces in Syria. He said he remembered being punched by three or four of Erdogan’s guards and seeing a D.C. police officer fall, but he did not recall hitting the officer.

“He stood up and protected me from them, and then he handcuffed me. He was a real gentleman, I appreciated that,” said Kheirabadi, adding that he immediately apologized to the officer.

Kheirabadi said he has lived in the United States for 13 years with his family, including a young son, and had never been in legal trouble in the United States before his arrest. “I didn’t go there to fight,” he said. “It just happened.”

A charging document for the other man arrested, Ayten Necmi, 49, of Woodside, New York, said peaceful protesters were taunted by a second group of demonstrators who shouted obscenities and taunts at them.

The document said four or five Middle Eastern men in dark suits from the second group assaulted the peaceful protesters. It said about eight people told officers they were attacked, thrown on the ground and stomped.

The Turkish Embassy said in a statement the protesters were affiliated with the outlawed PKK. The group is considered a terrorist group by both Turkey and the United States.

The embassy said Erdogan was in the ambassador’s residence after meeting President Donald Trump, and Turkish-Americans who were there to greet him responded to provocations from PKK-linked protesters.

“The violence and injuries were the result of this unpermitted, provocative demonstration,” the statement said. The claim that protesters were linked to the PKK could not be verified immediately by Reuters.

Tens of thousands of Turks have been detained as Erdogan cracked down on the media and academia following an attempted coup in 2016. Trump made no mention on Tuesday of Erdogan’s record on dissent and free speech.

House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, a California Republican, called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “to hold individuals accountable” for the attack.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and five Republican senators, including John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida, also condemned the assault.

Mehmet Tankan, 31, said he was one of a dozen protesters outside the ambassador’s residence chanting anti-Erdogan slogans when the brawl broke out.

Tankan said by telephone seven security personnel, some carrying firearms, rushed up and began punching him, bruising him all over his body.

Tankan said the violence was worse than when Erdogan visited Washington in 2016 and scuffles erupted between his security detail and demonstrators.

“The next time they could kill us easily. I’m scared now too, because I don’t know how it will affect my life here in the United States,” said Tankan, who lives in Arlington, Virginia.

Written by: Reuters

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NASA postpones astronaut launch due to bad weather

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(Last Updated On: May 28, 2020)

NASA aborted its planned mission – the first crewed launch from American soil to the International Space Station – on Wednesday due to bad weather conditions.

The organization said in a tweet that the launch was scrubbed due to weather. “There were no issues with the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft.”

The mission was called off just 17 minutes before the launch.

“Today’s Launch America attempt was an instantaneous launch window. Due to orbital mechanics, we need to make sure that at the time we launch, we are able to reach the Space Station on time and accurately. Because of this, we could not wait for clear weather today,” NASA said.

NASA said that it would resume an attempt to launch the Demo-2 mission at around 3:22 local time on Saturday, May 30. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will fly on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

“A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program,” NASA said in a statement.

NASA added that the mission will be SpaceX’s – a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company – final test flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will provide critical data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, and landing operations.

“The test flight also will provide valuable data toward certification of SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station,” the statement said. 

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Trump seeks full withdrawal from Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 27, 2020)

US President Donald Trump has reiterated full US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Speaking to the reporters on Tuesday, Trump said that he wants to bring American soldiers back home from Afghanistan.

“We’re there 19 years, and, yeah, I think that’s enough…We can always go back if we have to. If we have to go back, we’ll go back and we’ll go back raging. And there, we’ll go back as warriors, fighters,” Trump said.

Trump did not set a date for the full pullout from Afghanistan, saying, “but as soon as reasonable.”

The US signed a deal for bringing peace in Afghanistan on February 29, in Qatar.

According to the deal, the U.S. troops roughly reduced to 8,600 in Afghanistan, and the country committed to full drawdown within 14 months after the agreement.

“We’re having very positive talks. We’re having very positive talks. We want to bring our soldiers back home. We want to bring them back home. And we’re not only talking about there, but we’re talking about other countries also,” US President noted.

As a part of the US-Taliban deal, the Afghan government released 900 Taliban prisoners on Tuesday, bringing the total released to 2000, a move forward to promote the Afghan peace process.

The Taliban welcomed the government’s actions, saying that the group “will release a remarkable number of prisoners soon.”

“We’re dealing with the Taliban. We’re dealing with the president. And the president now has gotten themselves straightened out with the two presidents. But we’re dealing with — because they had — as you know, they had competing factors — and factions,” Trump said.

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Masks too dangerous for infants: Japanese health experts

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(Last Updated On: May 26, 2020)

Face masks should not be used by children under the age of two as it can make breathing difficult, the Japan Pediatric association said.

According to Japan’s coronavirus guidelines, the Japanese should wear masks to prevent contracting with the virus, but the medical organization has warned parents that masks can be too dangerous for infants.

“It is possible that masks make it difficult for infants to breathe and increase the risks of heatstroke,” the organization said in leaflet quoted by CNN.

The leaflet said, “Masks are not necessary for children under two.”

The newborns’ respiratory systems have narrower airways, wearing face masks can make it difficult more difficult for infants to breathe and can place a heavy burden on their hearts.

Japan lifted the state emergency across the country on Monday after it witnessed a decrease in the number of infections in the country.

So far, 16,581 people have been infected with the COVID-19 in Japan and 830 others have died of the virus.

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