Turkey’s Leader Rebukes U.S. Over Its Support for Kurds


ISTANBUL — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey harshly criticized the United States on Wednesday for not recognizing a Syrian Kurdish rebel group as a terrorist organization, describing the American position as a failure that had helped turn the region into a blood bath.

“Are you on our side or the side of the terrorist P.Y.D. and P.K.K. organizations?” Mr. Erdogan said in an address to provincial officials in Ankara, referring to American support for members of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or P.Y.D., in their fight against the Islamic State in Syria.

Tensions between Turkey and the United States, NATO allies, have been escalating over the Kurds. Turkey considers the Kurdish Democratic Union Party to be a terrorist organization through its affiliation with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or P.K.K, which has carried out an insurgency against Turkey over three decades in a conflict that has claimed more than 40,000 lives.

“Hey, America. Because you never recognized them as a terrorist group, the region has turned into a sea of blood,” Mr. Erdogan said.

United Arab Emirates Want to Top the World in Happiness, Too


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Maybe money can’t buy happiness, at least not at current oil prices.

So the rulers of the United Arab Emirates had a novel idea. They decided to name a minister of happiness.

It seems that being the Persian Gulf nation known for building the biggest indoor ski slope and an island that looks like a palm tree just was not cutting it anymore. At least not in the happiness department. Oh, and it seems that tolerance is also in short supply.

So the government will appoint a minister of tolerance, too.

The sheikhs who rule the United Arab Emirates have announced the most sweeping government reorganization in their country’s 44-year history, which included the creation of the two new ministers.

The announcement was made with all the trappings of a royal decree by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the country’s prime minister — on Twitter.

“It is the beginning of a new journey of achievement and giving to the people, and we ask

Syrian Opposition Groups Sense U.S. Support Fading


GAZIANTEP, Turkey — The United States and its allies have spent many millions of dollars backing Syrian opposition fighters they deem relatively moderate and secular, and civilian groups whose work on small businesses and local councils they billed as the cornerstone of Syria’s future.

But the very Syrians who benefited — and risked their lives in the process — now say that investment is in danger of going down the drain, and they see little urgency from Washington, diplomatic or military, to save it

“What are you going to do, other than statements?” Zakaria Malahifji, the political chief of one of the largest rebel groups given weapons and salaries by the C.I.A. and its counterparts in several European and Arab states, demanded in a recent message to contacts at the French Embassy.In nearly five years of war and insurrection, many Syrians have been repeatedly disillusioned by what they saw as a mismatch between tough American rhetoric against the Syrian government and comparatively modest efforts to aid some of its opponents. President Obama said President Bashar al-Assad

Taiwan Earthquake Investigators Arrest Developer of Collapsed Building

TAINAN, Taiwan — The police have arrested the builder of a 17-story apartment complex that collapsed in a predawn earthquake on Saturday here in southwestern Taiwan, the city government announced Tuesday afternoon.

Lin Minghui, the developer of the Wei-Guan Golden Dragon building, and two of his associates from the Wei-Guan Construction Company, the business that he used to build the apartment complex, were arrested late Monday night, said Ellen Hsueh, a municipal spokeswoman.

Liu Shih-Chung, one of Tainan’s two deputy secretaries general, said Mr. Lin and his associates had been arrested on suspicion of criminal business misconduct resulting in fatalities.

The arrest of Mr. Lin and his associates is likely to draw considerable attention in mainland China. Poor construction practices by government contractors were widely blamed for the collapse of many schools and the deaths of many children during the Sichuan Province earthquake that killed about 70,000 people and left nearly 18,000 missing in western China in 2008.

When protests over the schools threatened to spread out of control, the Beijing authorities silenced the criticism and limited judicial actions against the contractors.

Mixing sarcasm with envy of Taiwan’s willingness to hold developers accountable

A Three-Ring Circus in Finland: Soldiers, ‘Loldiers’ and Asylum Seekers

TAMPERE, Finland — A surreal political circus is wheeling its way through the frosty streets of Finland’s third-largest city.

In one ring is the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right, leather-clad vigilante patrol named for a Norse deity, which has taken upon itself the task of protecting Tampere from the 1,200 or so people seeking asylum here from Syria, Iraq and other places.

In another is a troupe of clowns who skip through the streets carrying lollipops, feather dusters and toilet brushes, mocking and sometimes confronting anti-immigrant groups, including the soldiers. The clowns call themselves the Loldiers of Odin and have emerged on the scene in the past few weeks as champions of multiculturalism.

And so it goes as this industrial town — which some call Finland’s “capital of comedy” — and much of Europe grapple with the influx of newcomers from the Middle East, Africa and beyond.

A Forceful Voice in Defense of Israel’s Image Abroad

JERUSALEM — Gilad Erdan is one of the rising stars of the conservative Likud Party: a 45-year-old former yeshiva student, a lawyer and an adviser to two prime ministers, Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu. For the March 2015 elections, he was No. 2 on the party list, just after Mr. Netanyahu, whom he now serves as minister of public security, strategic affairs and public diplomacy. But only after Mr. Erdan played hardball and refused initial offers.

Like many aspiring young Likudniks, Mr. Erdan is no shrinking violet. In fact, in an interview in his Parliament office, he spoke so loudly across a modest desk that I thought we were in an auditorium.

He has a lot on his mind — the wave of stabbing and shooting attacks on Israelis by Palestinians; relations with the weakening Palestinian Authority; more effective outreach to young Americans of all kinds; and what he considers the responsibility of social media companies to police themselves against anti-Semitism and incitement to terrorism.

He says he is particularly concerned with “the effort to boycott and delegitimize Israel,” which he sees expressed in the European Union’s labeling of products imported from settlements and in

Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister, Steps Down

PARIS — Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France said on Wednesday that he was leaving his post after nearly four years, a widely expected departure and a prelude to a coming cabinet reshuffle.

Mr. Fabius, 69, a government veteran and a former prime minister — France’s youngest, in the mid-1980s — announced the news to reporters in an offhanded way as he left a cabinet meeting at the Élysée Palace here, telling colleagues the meeting would be his last.

“We did good work, and France can be proud,” he said.

As foreign minister since May 2012, Mr. Fabius has presided over some major foreign policy challenges at a time when his country has arguably become the United States’ principal military ally in the fight against Islamic extremism.

He helped push through the nuclear accord with Iran, notably holding out for tough conditions against the Iranians. And he presided over the Paris climate change conference last year, making it a personal mission to negotiate an accord on global warming among fractious and disputing nations.

France’s activist foreign policy under his watch has also included several military interventions, notably in Africa — in Mali to

Dispatch From Dakar: ‘Mom, Did You Get Kidnapped?’

DAKAR, Senegal — Dionne Searcey chronicles her adventures in Senegal, where she moved her family and works as The Times’s West Africa bureau chief.

The man sitting in the front seat of my car was bleeding through his shirt. It had been three days since the attack outside the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, where he was passing by when gunmen sprayed the area with gunfire.

In all, 30 people were killed. My passenger, Anthelme Djibril, was one of the more than 150 injured. I met him outside the government building where he was told to show up along with the families of the dead to meet with officials.

As he waited for the meeting to start, Mr. Djibril stepped behind a tree for cover and took off his shirt to show me his still-tender wounds. On his left shoulder was what looked like a cigarette burn. The entrance wound — clean and precise. After it sliced through his arm, the bullet apparently ricocheted off his shoulder blade, making a sharp right turn straight out his back, which was a mess of blood and torn flesh.

As I drove him home, Mr. Djibril

Study in Brazil Links Zika Virus to Eye Damage in Babies

Infants infected with the Zika virus may be born not only with unusually small heads, but also with eye abnormalities that threaten vision, researchers reported on Tuesday in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

The study described damage to the retina or optic nerve in 10 of 29 newborns examined at Roberto Santos General Hospital in Salvador, Brazil. All the infants were presumed to have been infected with the Zika virus and had small heads, a condition called microcephaly. Other causes of the defect, like infection with rubella or toxoplasmosis, were ruled out.

Seven out of the 10 newborns had defects in both eyes, while three infants had damage in a single eye. The most common problems were black speckled lesions in the back of the eye, large areas of tissue damage in the retina itself, or damage in the layer of blood vessels and tissue below the retina.

Exactly how much these babies can see is unknown at this point,” said Dr. Lee M. Jampol, a professor of ophthalmology at Northwestern University, who co-wrote an editorial accompanying the study. But, he added, “when we can see these lesions, that means there’s damage.”The lesions themselves can’t be

The Migrant Crisis: No End in Sight

The perilous flight of refugees continues, with some 67,000 asylum seekers traveling to Europe last month. Meanwhile, the European Union and international donors are poised to increase their aid to one desperate group: Syrians displaced by war.

The refugees keep coming.

Forced from their homes by war and economic deprivation, tens of thousands of migrants made the perilous journey to Europe last month.

These asylum seekers, the latest surge in a great tide of human movement, have braved winter weather, stormy seas and closed borders in their escape from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa.

On Thursday in London, the European Union and international donors are expected to pledge to increase their aid to Syrians displaced by war.

The toll, whether measured in lives or in dollars, is staggering.

More People, Fewer Choices

More than 67,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea since the start of the year. By comparison, 5,000 migrants made the journey across the Mediterranean in January 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration.

These newcomers join more than one million people who sought refuge in Europe last year. But more telling than the total

Tempelhof Airport, Once a Lifeline for Berliners, Reprises Role for Refugees

BERLIN — The Prussians once paraded on the grounds that are now Tempelhof. Then, in the 1930s, the architect Ernst Sagebiel took what was a modest airfield and conceived the site as a gigantic entrance to Hitler’s new Germany.

Later, his brainchild — what the architect Norman Foster has called “the mother of all airports” — was used by the Americans to run the airlift that saved West Berlin from a Soviet blockade.

Tempelhof’s sweep and size, as well as its location in the center of Berlin, are so impressive that everything down to the airport signs and now disused luggage conveyors remain under legal protection as a monument.

All its life, in fact, Tempelhof Airport has been writing chapters of the history of Berlin. So it was perhaps inevitable that it would land a leading role in the current one.

Today, it is in the throes of becoming Germany’s largest refugee center. For Tempelhof, that spells yet another transformation.The new mission for the airport, which could house up to 7,000 refugees when work is completed, has thrust employees here into improvised roles. They must figure out how to shelter, feed, heat, entertain and

Short Answers to Hard Questions About Zika Virus

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency, prompted by growing concern that it could cause birth defects. As many as four million people could be infected by the end of the year. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged pregnant women against travel to about two dozen countries, mostly in the Caribbean and Latin America, where the outbreak is growing.

The infection appears to be linked to the development of unusually small heads and brain damage in newborns. Some pregnant women who have been to these regions should be tested for the infection, the agency said. Here are some answers and advice about the outbreak.

Short Answers to Hard
Questions About Zika Virus

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency, prompted by growing concern that it could cause birth defects. As many as four million people could be infected by the end of the year. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged pregnant women against travel to about two dozen countries, mostly in the Caribbean and Latin America, where the outbreak is growing.

Odd Names for Offbeat Ministries

The United Arab Emirates announced on Tuesday that it would create a new cabinet level job: minister of happiness.

Given the country’s record on human rights and gender equality, one Human Rights Watch official described the new job as Orwellian, a nod to George Orwell’s “1984,” in which the Ministry of Truth spreads lies mostly.

Around the world, and with varying degrees of irony, governments have created jobs, agencies and ministries with names that sometimes sound too good to be true.

Gross National Happiness Commission

Long before the United Arab Emirates got into the happiness game, Bhutan made contentedness a national priority.

In 1972, the Himalayan kingdom created a Gross National Happiness Index to rival the gross national product as an indicator of economic development based on Buddhist principles.

The country consolidated the committees overseeing happiness in 2008 to create the Gross National Happiness Commission and a new job, secretary of gross national happiness.

Ministry of Yoga

In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, established a new government ministry to promote traditional Indian medicine and yoga.

Shirpad Naik, the culture and tourism minister, was appointed minister of ayurveda,

The Zika Virus and Brazilian Women’s Right to Choose

BRASÍLIA — BRAZIL is in a state of crisis. Since October, there have been more than 4,000 suspected cases of babies born with a neurological syndrome associated with the Zika virus. The Health Ministry has suggested that women avoid pregnancy until the epidemic has passed or more is known about it.

I am a Brazilian woman. My friends who are planning to have children soon are worried about Zika. But they don’t need to be too concerned. In our well-to-do neighborhood in Brasília, the capital, there has not been a single case of a baby with the birth defects associated with the Zika epidemic. As far as I know, not one woman here has even been infected by the virus.

Lost in the panic about Zika is an important fact: The epidemic mirrors the social inequality of Brazilian society. It is concentrated among young, poor, black and brown women, a vast majority of them living in the country’s least-developed regions. The women at greatest risk of contracting Zika live in places where the mosquito is part of their everyday lives, where mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya were already endemic. They live in substandard, crowded housing

AP Exclusive: Iranian Drone First Over US Carrier

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An Iranian drone that flew over a U.S. aircraft carrier last month was the first to conduct an overflight of an American carrier

ccording to a U.S. Navy report obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The Jan. 12 reconnaissance flight by the Iranian Shahed drone was the latest in a series of tense naval encounters between forces of the Islamic Republic and the U.S. Navy, including the brief detention of 10 American sailors who strayed into Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.

All the incidents have come after Iran signed a nuclear deal with world powers including the U.S., and point to lingering tensions between the two playing out in key waterways used to transport oil.

An internal U.S. Navy report on the incident, obtained by the AP through a Freedom of Information Act request, said it happened as the USS Harry S. Truman and the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle were 89 nautical miles southwest of the Iranian port of Bushehr. The U.S. Navy also released video it shot of the incident for the first time in response to the AP request.

A French

Trump for President? Ladbrokes Odds Improve After New Hampshire

NEW YORK — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s odds at winning the White House improved significantly after his decisive victory in Tuesday’s primary in New Hampshire, online betting site Ladbrokes PLC said on Wednesday.

Trump’s odds for winning the presidency in the November election are now 9/2, compared to 7/1 following the Iowa caucuses last week. Iowa kicked off the parties’ process of nominating their presidential candidates and in the Republican race, the real estate tycoon placed second.

His chances of victory in November are now 18 percent, up from 13 percent, putting him second to Democrat Hillary Clinton, whose odds of winning the presidency were even, or 50/50, on Wednesday.

Clinton was roundly beaten by Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, in New Hampshire. Her odds of winning the presidency slipped from 4/5, or a 56 percent chance at the White House, seen immediately after the Iowa caucuses.

Clinton, a former secretary of state, has for long been the front-runner to win the Democratic nomination but has been challenged by a surge of support for Sanders.

“New Hampshire couldn’t have worked out much better for Trump,” said Matthew Shaddick, head of

Syrian, Russian Forces Carrying Out Ethnic Cleansing Around Aleppo: Turkish PM

THE HAGUE — Syrian government forces backed by Russia are carrying out a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing around the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday.

“One of the aims of the latest attacks is to conduct ethnic cleansing. Ethnic cleansing in Syria and Aleppo aimed at only leaving regime supporters behind is being conducted by the Syrian regime and Russia in a very deliberate way,” he said.

“Every refugee that we accept helps their ethnic cleansing policy but we will continue to accept (refugees),” Davutoglu told a joint news conference with his Dutch counterpart.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall)

The Latest: Turkish PM Lashes Out at ‘Two-Faced’ UN

BEIRUT — The Latest developments on the war in Syria and the tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing violence (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has lashed out at the United Nations after it demanded the country open its borders to tens of thousands of more Syrian refugees, accusing it of failing to stop the Russian bombings that have triggered the exodus.

Davutoglu said Wednesday he considered the U.N. Security Council “two-faced” for telling Turkey to open its borders while not moving “a finger to solve the Syria crisis” or to stop the Russian bombardments.

He also said the Syrian and Russian military operations were an attempt to drive out people who don’t support the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

By taking in the refugees that have fled the city of Aleppo, he said Turkey would be indirectly contributing to what he termed as an “ethnic cleansing.”

Davutoglu reiterated that Turkey planned to care for the new wave of refugees at camps on the Syrian side of the border.


4:30 p.m.

Turkey’s president has ratcheted up his criticism of the United States for

Top North Korean General Is Said to Be Executed on Graft Charges

SEOUL, South Korea — A top general in North Korea was executed this month on corruption charges, around the time its leader, Kim Jong-un, warned the party and military elites against abuse of power and other misdeeds, a South Korean official said on Wednesday.

The general, Ri Yong-gil, chief of the North Korean Army’s general staff and No. 3 in its hierarchy, was executed on charges of “factionalism, abuse of power and corruption” in the latest episode of Mr. Kim’s “reign of terror,” the official said.

The official agreed to confirm the execution, first reported by the South Korean news media, only on the condition of anonymity because the information involved government intelligence. Although South Korea’s National Intelligence Service did not confirm it, many South Korean news outlets reported that General Ri had been executed, citing an unidentified intelligence source.

Mr. Kim convened a joint meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party and the Committee of the Korean People’s Army on Feb. 2 and 3. There, he criticized “the practices of seeking privileges, misuse of authority, abuse of power and bureaucratism,” according to the Korean Central News Agency of the North.


U.S. to Send More Troops to Aid Afghan Forces Pressed by Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan — The United States Army will deploy hundreds of soldiers to the southern Afghan province of Helmand, where government forces have been pushed to the brink by Taliban militants, a military spokesman said Tuesday.

It will be the largest deployment of American troops outside major bases in Afghanistan since the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014. Though the military insists that the soldiers will not take active combat roles, American Special Operations forces have increasingly been drawn into the fighting in Helmand as one important district after another has fallen or been threatened by Taliban insurgents

Col. Michael T. Lawhorn, a spokesman for the United States military in Afghanistan, said in a statement that the new deployment would provide protection for the current Special Operations troops in Helmand and give extra support and training for the 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army. Afghan forces in Helmand have taken heavy casualties in recent months and have been cut off by the Taliban in many places.

Our mission,” Colonel Lawhorn said, “remains the same: to train, advise, and assist our Afghan counterparts, and not to participate in combat operations.”

He would