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US officials to visit Turkey over Gulen extradition request | USA News




Ankara, Turkey – A team of US officials is due to arrive in Ankara on Thursday for a visit that Turkey hopes will pave the way for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a former imam it accuses of orchestrating a coup attempt.

Turkey says Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999, masterminded the 2016 attempted coup that led to the deaths of more than 250 people.

Prior to the failed putsch, Gulen’s movement placed supporters within the Turkish state apparatus, particularly the judiciary and police, from where it attacked its opponents, including a 2013 corruption investigation that targeted figures close to then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

After the attempted coup, the purge of alleged Gulenists was stepped up, resulting in tens of thousands of people being dismissed from their posts and arrested.

Gulen, who was previously allied to Erdogan, denies involvement in the takeover attempt.

The two-day visit will see the US delegation meet counterparts from Turkey’s justice, interior and foreign ministries to discuss the Turkish case against Gulen, according to Turkish officials.

Turkey has sought Gulen’s arrest since 2014, but efforts to have him returned from the US, where he lives in a sprawling compound in Pennsylvania, have floundered on US claims that Turkey has not provided sufficient proof.

However, a thaw in US-Turkey relations in recent months has raised hopes in Ankara of a breakthrough.

American pastor Andrew Brunson was released from Turkish custody in October and last month’s announcement of a US withdrawal from Syria eased Turkish concerns over American support for fighters linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“We hope and believe that the US will fulfil the requirements of being a state which has been led by the rule of law and it will extradite the head of this terrorist organisation,” Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said on December 30. “God willing, the US will comply with our demand in 2019.”

Last month Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said President Donald Trump had told Erdogan that the US was “working on” Gulen’s extradition during a meeting at a G20 summit in Argentina. However, the White House later denied that the conversation amounted to a commitment to extradite the 77-year-old Muslim scholar.

Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Istanbul-based Centre for Economics and Foreign Policies Studies, said the delegation’s arrival could see progress in the case.

“It’s a good time because we are now in the post-Brunson phase, some of the more major irritants to the relationship have been eliminated and there seems to be a good dialogue between Erdogan and Trump,” he said.

However, any headway would “hinge on whether Turkey will be able to deliver documentation that the US Justice Department will feel comfortable with, in its bid to convince the US courts to proceed with such a demand.”

Ulgen added: “What Trump could do is press the US Justice Department to review and work more collaboratively with the Turkish authorities to build a case. They could work with their Turkish counterparts to prepare a file that would be sufficient for the US courts.”

The US embassy in Ankara confirmed the visit by Justice Department staff but declined to comment on the nature of their planned meetings with Turkish officials.

As well as Turkish efforts to convince the US of Gulen’s involvement in the failed coup – Turkey says it has handed over more than 80 boxes of evidence related to the case – the US authorities have their own concerns about the Gulen movement.

The FBI has investigated whether US taxpayers’ money is being used to benefit the group via dozens of “charter schools” with Gulenist links.

Robert Amsterdam, an international lawyer hired by Turkey, has said the schools gave contracts to Gulen-affiliated companies and teachers were forced to submit some of their government-funded salaries to the movement.

Gulen’s name has also cropped up in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was allegedly involved in lobbying for Gulen’s extradition and reportedly plotted to kidnap and fly him to Turkey on a private jet.


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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day




The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat




In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic




TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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