It looks like one-man rule. While President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrated a narrow victory in yesterday’s historic referendum, Turkey’s main opposition party wants a recount. With 51.4 percent of Turkish voters approving Erdogan’s new constitution, the president gains vast new powers and control of the constitutional court, with virtually unchecked legal and budgetary authority. Meanwhile, “no” campaigners complained of intimidation, and the opposition says there were electoral irregularities — like a decision to pass unstamped ballots as valid unless proven otherwise — that call into question the referendum’s legitimacy.
The Presidential Daily Brief
That backfired. A day after a military parade for its founding father’s 105th birthday and threats of swift nuclear retaliation if attacked, North Korea reportedly fired another ballistic missile, only to see it explode after launch. The failure came as American warships approach the Korean Peninsula and Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to the demilitarized zone after meeting South Korean officials. While stating American commitment to security in the region, Pence appealed to China’s diplomatic capacities — and warned Pyongyang, “The era of strategic patience is over.”
They want the long forms. To get them, demonstrators gathered at more than 150 locations across the U.S., demanding on Saturday’s traditional deadline for filing income tax returns that President Donald Trump release his, thus revealing his wealth and adherence to his civic obligations. In California’s left-wing bastion of Berkeley, Trump supporters came from as far away as Montana, clashing with demonstrators as police arrested 21 people and found weapons ranging from knives to skateboards. As Trump lobbies for tax reform, calls for him to reveal his financial details are expected to get louder.
He’s got his eye on the globe. Since ordering an attack on a Syrian airbase April 7, President Trump’s approval ratings have risen, along with foreign policy activity — from saber-rattling on North Korea to dropping the largest U.S. non-nuclear bomb Thursday on an ISIS stronghold in Afghanistan. Drama on the global stage has deflected attention from domestic issues like the White House press secretary’s comparing Hitler favorably to Syria’s leader and the CIA director mocking another administration official’s statement that microwaves were monitoring Americans, auguring more foreign intrigue to come.
Is there an anti-Trump bump? Democrat Jon Ossoff, 30, hopes so as he faces off Tuesday against a bevy of GOP candidates for a vacant Georgia House seat. Republicans got nervous after a special election in a Kansas district President Trump won by 27 percentage points went Republican by less than seven. Trump took the Georgia 6th by only 2 points, and with Democratic money and an energized ground game boosting Ossoff’s chances, he could gain an outright majority — and avoid a June runoff — depending on notoriously unpredictable special election turnouts.
Survival is not an option. While violent “jihad” has existed for centuries, it’s only recently that new rules of terror — fostered by youth culture — have inspired fighters to seek their own demise. Such suicide terrorism is claiming more Muslim than western lives, revealing a paradoxical nihilism that contradicts Islamic religious tenets, argues French political scientist Oliver Roy in his new book, Jihad and Death: The Global Appeal of Islamic State. Groups like ISIS are attracting young recruits with apocalyptic delusions, he says, which shouldn’t be confused with Islam in fighting terrorism.
Know This: Saturday’s car bombing has reportedly killed 126 Syrians — 68 of them children — who were waiting to evacuate besiged areas near Aleppo. Under tight security, besieged Coptic Christians in Egypt and Pope Francis in Rome joined millions around the world celebrating Easter. A 5-year-old boy was killed after getting crushed between a moving wall and a table in an Atlanta revolving restaurant. And with 1.2 million fans watching online, April the Giraffe gave birth Saturday to a male calf at upstate New York’s Animal Adventure Park.
Monitor This: “If you hack the service bureau, it means that you also have access to all of their clients, all of the banks.” — a cybersecurity expert on reports that the U.S. National Security Agency may have hacked Swift, the global banking transfer system, which the agency denies.
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A living link is severed. Emma Morano, the last known surviving person born in the 19th Century, died Saturday at age 117. When she was born in Italy’s Piedmont region on Nov. 29, 1899, Queen Victoria ruled Britain and the Wright Brothers were still flying kites. Living through two world wars — losing her sweetheart in the first — and 90 Italian governments, Morano endured an abusive marriage and the death of her only baby. She attributed her longevity to good genes, with several sisters passing 100, but also to eating three eggs (one cooked) a day.
She’s no magician. But Chutni Mahto’s worked a miracle in the village of Sasokara, India, where illness and death are often blamed on witchcraft, and whole families have been slaughtered when linked to such “sorcery.” Coming from a nearby village, the 55-year-old was herself beaten for an imagined supernatural offense, prompting her to fight back in the face of ingrained superstition and corrupt, obstructionist police. So far, Mahto’s helped more than 50 women who’ve been branded witches, and police have started offering her tea rather than demonizing her.
Can we have our “friendly skies” back? It isn’t so simple as not beating passengers. The U.S. aviation industry has long spiraled from literal to what some consider moral bankruptcy. In the ’90s, deregulation offered customers generous choices and fares, yet 9/11 and economic implosions saw U.S. carriers bleed out. Some absorbed failed competitors, and with passengers fixated on low fares, an oligopoly was born. Today, four airlines own 80 percent of the American market — so no matter how angry, travelers will probably continue to grit their teeth and fly United.
Soon, we’ll all be backseat drivers. Today there are 10 federally approved sites for testing self-driving vehicles. And with Trump’s new transportation secretary pointing to greater federal involvement in the sector, there’s a growing sense an AV revolution is afoot. Yet without much data, Congress seems reluctant to lead, and states are doing most of the regulating, ranging from welcoming Wisconsin to naysaying New York. Meanwhile Silicon Valley is hoping autonomous tech firms, promising both lifestyle improvements and massive job losses, will be involved as governments plan the roads of the future.
It’s the “greatest period in filmmaking ever.” So says an executive at Amazon, whose streaming service is emulating Netflix’s seemingly limitless bankrolling of independent auteurs’ work for an exclusive, yet worldwide, online audience. For small-time producers, it’s a godsend: no more scrimping, saving or bussing tables while waiting for studios to bless their work. But how “indy” can they remain if their output is controlled by two multinationals? And, as director of Amazon’s Lost City of Z (released Friday) worries, living-room viewers risk losing the “womblike intimacy” of a darkened theater’s glowing screen.
He still might get away with it. It seemed the perfect crime when Mexican tabloid editor Martín Mauricio Ortega sauntered out of the Patriots locker room following the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, allegedly carrying a $500,000 souvenir. And it would have been, except months earlier he’d shown off another coveted No. 12 shirt — also purloined — to a Seattle collector. Tracking down Tom Brady’s most recent stolen jersey involved an international investigation that located the remarkable collection and returned the jerseys — leaving Ortega jobless, but as yet unprosecuted.