Campaign promises galore in last day before Turkish election

ISTANBUL — Turkey was awash in campaign promises Saturday as politicians pressed to get voters’ attention in the last remaining hours before a ban began ahead of Sunday’s critical presidential and parliamentary elections.

Speaking at five different rallies in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged citizens to vote and listed the hospitals and transportation facilities built during his time in office as proof of his leadership. He also slammed his opponents for reportedly lacking vision.

“The presidency requires experience,” said the man who has led Turkey since 2003 as prime minister and since 2014 as the country’s first directly elected president.

The 64-year-old Erdogan called the elections more than a year ahead of schedule in a bid to usher in an executive presidency with sweeping powers.

He said the new system will bring stability and prosperity to Turkey, but critics warn it could lead to a “one-man rule” amid signs of an unsound economy.

Despite the short campaign season, the uneven media coverage and government resources that favor Erdogan, his competitors for the presidency and in parliament have launched a serious bid to unseat him.

More than 59 million Turkish citizens, including some 3 million living abroad, are eligible to vote in Sunday’s elections. It’s the first time they’ll be voting for president and parliament at the same time — a change approved last year by a referendum that switched Turkey’s governance system to an executive presidency.

Six candidates are running for president and eight parties have fielded candidates for 600 parliamentary seats. Five of those parties will also run as part of two competing electoral alliances: The “People Alliance” by Erdogan’s ruling party and a nationalist party versus the “Nation Alliance” by the leading secular opposition, a nascent center-right party and an Islamic-leaning party.

Erdogan’s main opponent, Muharrem Ince, nominated by the secular Republican People’s Party, drew hundreds of thousands of supporters to a rally Saturday in Istanbul. Confident and combative, Ince said “Erdogan you are going!” and called him a “fascist.”

Ince promised voters an independent judiciary that he said would stabilize the economy. He warned supporters that a “regime of fear” would continue if Erdogan is re-elected, predicting that financial markets would be rattled and the national lira currency would decline further.

But halfway through Ince’s rally, mainstream Turkish media switched over to a second Erdogan speech as he crisscrossed Istanbul, appearing in several districts.

Earlier, he declared that Turkey was now one of the world’s leading …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

      

Ugly dogs return for annual Northern California contest

PETALUMA, Calif. — Dogs with hairless bodies and lolling tongues will flaunt their imperfections as they compete to win the 2018 World’s Ugliest Dog contest in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The event is taking place Saturday this year at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma, a departure from previous years when it was held on Friday. Organizers say they wanted more people to attend.

This year’s dogs include a blackhead-covered Chinese Crested-Dachshund mutt and a bulldog mix with excess wrinkly skin.

The dogs walk down a red carpet and are evaluated by a panel of judges. The winner takes home $1,500.

Last year’s winner was a 125-pound (57-kilogram) gentle giant named Martha — a Neopolitan Mastiff with gas and a droopy face.

…read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

      

Saudi women are now driving as longstanding ban ends

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi women are in the driver’s seat for the first time in their country and steering their way through busy city streets just minutes after the world’s last remaining ban on women driving was lifted on Sunday.

It’s a euphoric and historic moment for women who have had to rely on their husbands, fathers, brothers and drivers to run basic errands, get to work, visit friends or even drop kids off at school. The ban had relegated women to the backseat, restricting when and how they move around.

But after midnight Sunday, Saudi women finally joined women around the world in being able to get behind the wheel of a car and simply drive.

“I’m speechless. I’m so excited it’s actually happening,” said Hessah al-Ajaji, who drove her family’s Lexus down the capital’s busy Tahlia Street after midnight.

Al-Ajaji had a U.S. driver’s license before obtaining a Saudi one and appeared comfortable at the wheel as she pulled up and parked. As for the male drivers on the road, “they were really supportive and cheering and smiling,” she said.

In a few hours, she says she’ll drive herself to work for the first time in Saudi Arabia.

For nearly three decades, outspoken Saudi women and the men who supported them had called for women to have the right to drive. They faced arrest for defying the ban as women in other Muslim countries drove freely.

In 1990, during the first driving campaign by activists, women who got behind the wheels of their cars in the capital, Riyadh, lost their jobs, faced severe stigmatization and were barred from travel abroad for a year.

Ultraconservatives in Saudi Arabia had long warned that allowing women to drive would lead to sin and expose women to harassment. Ahead of allowing women to drive, the kingdom passed a law against sexual harassment with up to five years prison for the most severe cases.

Criticism against women driving has largely been muted since since King Salman announced last year that they would be allowed to drive.

Simultaneously, however, at least 10 of the most outspoken supporters of women’s rights were arrested just weeks before the ban was lifted, signaling that only the king and his powerful son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will decide the pace of change.

With state-backed support for the move, many Saudis now say they support the decision allowing women to drive and see it as long overdue.

Not all …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News