President Obama revitalizes ties with Turkey during two-day tour

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

President Obama revitalizes ties with Turkey during two-day tour

It is the second full day of President Obama's visit to Turkey, the last stop on an eight-day European tour that included stops at the G-20 summit and the NATO 60th anniversary meeting. He is wrapping up his visit with an appeal to Turkish youth a town hall-style meeting. But arguably the most important thing President Obama did on his trip was his visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul today. The Blue Mosque is of huge symbolic value and religious importance to the Islamic world, having survived for through hundreds of years of upheaval in the region. His visit to Turkey is seen as an attempt to renew a flagging relationship with an important Islamic ally, so what does President Obama's action symbolize? We go to Istanbul for the answer with Turkish journalist, Mithat Bereket, formerly of CNN Turkey who is now on Pusula-TV, a private television station.

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Italians comb through rubble after quake amid aftershocks

As residents of the central Italian city L'Aquila slept on Sunday, a deadly earthquake hit the surrounding region. Entire blocks of buildings were destroyed, rendering an estimated 17,000 people homeless and causing the deaths of 179 people. According to the U.S. Geological Survey the quake registered a 6.3 magnitude, while Italy's National Institute of Geophysics recorded it as a 5.8. Aftershocks and inclement weather have been interfering with rescue efforts and an estimated 37 people are still missing. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi declared a state of emergency for the Abruzzo region, approximately 60 miles from Rome. For more we turn to the BBC's Rome Correspondent David Willey.

Watch Italian rescue teams sift through rubble in the aftermath of the earthquake in L'Aquila.

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The Netherlands confronts Muslim tensions

If Turkey succeeds in its bid to join the European Union, it would become the most populous state in the EU. But European countries are divided over the issue of allowing a predominantly Muslim country gain such a powerful role. Nowhere is the debate over this more heated than in the Netherlands, where an increasing Muslim population has caused a populist backlash and a string of high profile murders in recent years. We talk to the Dutch Minister for European Affairs, Frans Timmermans, who is in the U.S. to promote the economic benefits of tolerance.

"America is back. And we're so happy that America is back, and we want to build our future coordination with the Americans because only with them we can solve the big problems we're facing."
—Frans Timmermans, Dutch minister of European affairs, on America's meeting with Turkey

This 2008 news report from Russia Today documents the increasing divide over the growth of Islamic communities in The Netherlands.

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Awaiting a verdict in human rights trial of Peruvian President Fujimori

After a fifteen-month long trial, a verdict is expected today in the trial of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori on charges of human rights abuses. This is the first time an elected Latin American president has been tried for human rights abuse. Fujimori is accused of ordering two massacres that killed 25 people. He denies the charges, but faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Mr. Fujimori is currently serving a six-year prison term for abuse of power. Joining us for more is James Painter, Latin American analyst for the BBC's World Service.

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Adding up Gates' defense budget

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has unveiled his budget plan for the Pentagon. There are a broad range of cuts to weapons spending and big boosts to new technology that are supposed to help battle the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gates didn't just spend money, though, he also took a red pen to President Obama's budget line for a new helicopter. Paul Hughes, senior program officer at the Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention at the United States Institute for Peace joins New York Times Reporter Elisabeth Bumiller to break the new budget plan down.

The 2010 Department of Defense Budget Proposal
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announces some major cuts (and a couple of increases) in his 2010 budget. View other highlights from the speech, in pictures, after the jump.


Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a Pentagon press briefing, April 6, 2009 (Cherie Cullen/Department of Defense)

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The sad nexus of medical ethics and torture: A look at a new Red Cross report

A new report by the International Committee of the Red Cross reveals the unsavory fact that medical personnel were deeply involved in the abusive interrogations of terror suspects held overseas by the CIA in so-called Black Sites. These medical personnel witnessed waterboarding, slamming of prisoners into walls, hanging shackled prisoners from the ceiling, among other tortures. While unfortunately the reports of torture are not new, this report from the ICRC digs deep into the medical ethics of the workers involved. New York Times reporter Scott Shane has been following this story and he and Gregg Bloche, visiting law professor at the University of Chicago join The Takeaway to discuss these findings.

For more, read Scott Shane's article, Report Outlines Medical Workers’ Role in Torture in today's New York Times.

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Women's NCAA Final pits Louisville vs. UConn

After the men's final last night (sorry Michigan State!), tonight the women head to St. Louis for their game. In the NCAA women’s final tonight powerhouse UConn takes on scrappy Louisville. If their last two match-ups are any harbinger, Louisville will need to bring out the big guns tonight since the Huskies dominated the Cardinals in their previous two games this season. Also, UConn has been completely unstoppable this season. Blogger Ibrahim Abdul-Matin has been keeping tabs of all the action and joins The Takeaway to get us ready for what should be a great finale to the college basketball season.

"They could literally go down as one of the best basketball teams in the history of basketball."
—Blogger Ibrahim Abdul-Matin on the UConn women's basketball team

See what UConn will bring to the game in the clip below.

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Minnesota's Senate race goes on (and on and on)

A Minnesota state panel is set today to begin a final recount of contested ballots in the state’s epic Senate race between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken. At stake in today’s recount are 387 absentee ballots, which probably won’t be enough to swing the election in Coleman's favor, but Coleman says he's not backing down. The Takeaway talks to Minnesota Public Radio reporter and Polinaut blogger Tom Scheck. Again.

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Madoff frontman Merkin gets hit with a lawsuit by New York State

At this point everyone has heard of disgraced financier Bernie Madoff, but the name J. Ezra Merkin may still be unknown. That is about to change. In a lawsuit filed Monday by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, it is alleged that Mr. Merkin convinced his clients to invest with him and then funneled all their money into Madoff's scheme. Mr. Merkin's private clients lost over $2 billion in the collapse of Madoff's Ponzi scheme and most did not realize they had ever invested with him. New York Times reporter Diana Henriques is covering the story and she joins us now with the details on these new "feeder fund" lawsuits.

For more, read Diana B. Henriques' article, Cuomo Sues Over Madoff Investments in today's New York Times.

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Why does scratching stop us from itching?

When we drag our nails across a chalkboard, it's not pleasant. But dragging our nails across our skin often provides us nothing but relief from a prickly, tickly sensation know as The Itch. Just what is it about scratching an itch that causes the itchy sensation to go away? New research out this week in the journal Nature Neuroscience provides an answer. And we're itchin' to tell you about it: Glenn Geisler, one of the scientists involved with the work, joins The Takeaway with more.

Read Geisler's Nature Neuroscience paper here .

And have you ever wondered how deep into the skin a person can scratch? Read Atul Gawande's New Yorker article The Itch to find out. We won't spoil the ending for you, but it's pretty darn deep.

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President Obama's Turkish appeal

President Obama is on his second full day of his visit to Turkey. He finished his trip with a town hall meeting with students and an appeal to Turkish youth. The President said he understands the frustrations felt in the Muslim world about some of America's actions and that he wants to turn the page. So how are Turks reacting to the new President? Are they ready to turn the page and renew ties with America? To help answer that question, we are joined by journalist Asli Aydintasbas, who wrote an op-ed in yesterday's New York Times, and Jeff McAllister, BBC political commentator.

For more, read Asli Aydintasbas' op-ed piece, Turkey in Full in the New York Times.

Here is Al-Jazeera's report on the protests that greeted President Obama's visit to Turkey:

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