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NEED TO KNOW:
When Turkey finally joined the fight against the Islamic State last week, launching airstrikes against positions held by the terrorist group in northern Syria, it was hailed as a turning point. The United States would also now be able to use Turkish bases to launch its own airstrikes, allowing for more frequent and precise attacks.
Unfortunately, nothing about this is simple.
It turns out Turkey is not only bombing the Islamic State. It is also bombing the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. The PKK has been battling the Islamic State in Iraq and elsewhere and has ties to the People's Protection Units, or YPG, the Syrian Kurdish group that is coordinating with the United States in northern Syria.
The PKK is also a rebel group that has sought autonomy from Turkey for decades. The last thing Turkey wants is an area controlled by the Kurds along its border. It's hard to say what Turkey fears more, the Kurds or the Islamic State. Either way, it appears to be trying to take them both out, which puts the United States in an awkward position.
Turkey has also reportedly struck a deal with the United States to create a so-called “Islamic State-free zone” on a strip of land in Syria along the Turkish border. Turkey argues that this would insulate it from the Syrian war and create a “safe haven” for Syrian refugees. But it will also come at the expense of the Kurdish militias fighting the Islamic State inside Syria.
And, it would put US fighter jets closer than ever to areas regularly patrolled by Syrian aircraft. The United States has tailored its entire strategy against the Islamic State in Syria around avoiding conflict with the Syrian military and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. If Syrian warplanes attack US jets or its partners on the ground, things could escalate fast.
WANT TO KNOW:
Earlier this month, Britain launched a horrifying investigation.
The aim is to discover whether and to what extent officials and institutions in England and Wales covered up evidence that children were sexually abused over a period of decades — even when those crimes were allegedly perpetrated by officials in the highest echelons of public life, and at institutions specifically tasked with children’s care.
“This could be — it probably will be — the biggest inquiry this country’s ever seen,” inquiry spokesman David Jervis told GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Corinne Purtill in March. The investigation is likely to take years.
A recently discovered cache of documents relating to at least one alleged cover-up, however, may already supply key evidence that officials knew senior members of the government were sexually abusing children. In one 1986 memo, the head of Britain's intelligence agency writes to Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet secretary that a serving member of parliament has displayed a “penchant for small boys.” He recommends keeping the issue quiet. Here's a quote from the letter:
“The risks of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger.”
That's some damning language.
STRANGE BUT TRUE:
The disgraced former Italian prime minister and kleptocrat, Silvio Berlusconi, has at least one friend left in the world: Russian President Vladimir Putin. That's a powerful friend, and Berlusconi could use one.
The 78-year-old was this month found guilty of bribing a senator. He managed to avoid jail time for that, of course, but his legal woes have been adding up. He was forced to do community service after being found guilty of corporate tax fraud. And he was just barely cleared of accusations of having sex with an underage dancer, but not before his habit of throwing sordid sex parties became public knowledge around the world.
Suffice it to say, Berlusconi has fallen from grace. So what's next for him? He says his friend Putin might come to his rescue, give him citizenship and then make him Russia's minister of the economy. Then the two — who are often seen giggling together during global gatherings or holidays their families take — could be together all the time. Wouldn't that be neat?