Mueller’s Muscovian Candidate. Everyone Wants a Nuclear Weapon. Fascism in Turkey.


First Indictments Issued In Mueller Investigation: Federal indictments came down Monday against Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, and Rick Gates, another Trump campaign aide, charging them with money laundering and acting as unregistered agents of Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government. George Papadopoulos, a third Trump adviser, pled guilty earlier this month to lying to the FBI. Both Manafort and Gates pled not guilty to the charges, which represent the first of perhaps many as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his investigation into alleged Russian efforts that favored Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and the potential collusion by Trump aides. The judge set bond at $10 million for Manafort and $5 million for Gates. The men are currently allowed to remain at their homes, under house arrest. White House spokeswomanSarah Sanders did her best to play down any perceived connection to the administration, saying the indictment had nothing to do with Trump or his campaign and showed no evidence of complicity between the campaign and Russia.

Incumbent Wins in Kenya’s Election Redo: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was re-elected for a second term after garnering more than 98% of the vote in a highly contentious rerun election that was boycotted by his main rival, Raila Odinga, who garnered just 0.96% of the vote. Turnout for the election–in which voting had been indefinitely suspended in several constituencies–was low, with just 38% of the country’s 19.6 million registered voters casting a ballot. Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman said that he was confident that the voting body had delivered “a free, fair and credible election.” The opposition parties, including Odinga’s National Super Alliance coalition, have seven days to contest the result by launching a legal challenge. The courts then have 14 days in which to rule on such petitions.


Saudi Arabia Rolls Out Plans For Its Nuclear Program: Saudi Arabia plans to become the second country in the Gulf Arab region to extract uranium domestically as a step towards “self-sufficiency” in producing atomic fuel. The first is the United Arab Emirates. The news came at an international nuclear power conference last week in Abu Dhabi attended by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter of oil, but wants atomic power to diversify its energy supply. It plans to have laws passed and regulations and infrastructure in place for its nuclear program by 2018. Uranium ore, a heavy metal, must be enriched to about 5% purity for use in reactors. But the same process can be used to enrich uranium to the higher levels necessary for weaponization. Concerns surrounding Iran’s nuclear ambitions led to the 2015 multi-national accord in which Iran agreed to freeze its program for 15 years in exchange for sanctions relief. This month President Trump criticized the deal and withdrew the US from involvement.

Additional read: South Korea and Japan also reconsider the need for nuclear weapons.


A Fascist Dictator By Any Other Name Is Still A Fascist Dictator: Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan doesn’t take kindly to being called names. So when a prominent opposition lawmaker called the president a “fascist dictator,” Erdogan threatened him with legal action. This is no empty threat, since under Turkish law anyone who insults the president can spend four years in prison. Erdogan files these “you-better-not-insult-me-or-else” lawsuits with regularity, racking up more than 1,800 cases against people including cartoonists, a former Miss Turkey winner, and schoolchildren. The latest insult comes from Bulent Tezcan, spokesman for the main opposition People’s Republican Party. Tezcan said a “fearful atmosphere” had been created in the decade Erdogan has dominated Turkish politics.

Israel Destroys Tunnel From Gaza, Killing Seven Palestinians: Seven Palestinians, including an Islamic Jihad commander and two members of Hamas, were killed and nine others  wounded after Israel blew up a tunnel leading into the country from Gaza. The incident represents a rare flare-up along the tense border that has remained mostly peaceful since the 2014 war with Hamas. Arafat Abu Marshould, head of the Islamic Jihad’s armed wing in central Gaza, was killed, along with a senior associate and two other gunmen. Hamas said two of its gunmen were killed while trying to rescue Islamic Jihad members who were working in the tunnel. Israeli military spokesperson Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said the tunnel was an “active” construction that Israeli forces had been monitoring for some time.

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