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  • Eight men own more than 3.6 billion people: our economics is broken Mark Goldring - The Guardian

    Today, eight people have the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. Stop and think about this. It is a mind-boggling concept.

    Last year we said we would have needed a double-decker bus to transport the 62 people we thought owned the same as the poorest 3.6 billion on the planet. In 2017, thanks to more accurate data, we find that in fact this group would fit in a single golf buggy.

    Today nearly 800 million people – one in nine – across the world will go to bed hungry or undernourished. The adults will wake up uncertain when they will next eat, whether they will have work, fearful for their health and the costs that illness in the family might bring. The eight men – yes, they’re all men – and their fellow billionaires will wake up having slept rather better, and their wealth, invested across the world, will have increased by countless millions even as they slept.

    It would be easy to vilify the eight, to make each individual a poster boy of the growing chasm between the richest and the rest. But painting these individuals as the villains would be unfair. The eight include some of the world’s largest philanthropists and those, such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who have spoken out against the shocking scale of inequality in the world. These eight men are not themselves the cause of the poverty so many still live in. But they are the most powerful representatives and beneficiaries of an economic system in which wealth accrues more wealth; where wealth means power and influence, which in turn leads to laws and practices that help the rich get richer.

    So this is not an exposé of eight people, but of a broken economics. Narrowing the gap between the richest and the rest requires us to take on a more challenging task than asking eight men to change their behaviour. It requires us to create a more human economy; one that does not result in 1% of the world’s population owning the same wealth as the other 99%. One that encourages and rewards enterprise and innovation, yes, but one that also offers everyone, regardless of background, a fair chance in life and ensures when individuals and businesses succeed, they do so for the benefit, rather than at the expense, of others.

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    Too often today, our economy rewards rather than discourages bad behaviour. Tax avoidance costs poor countries more than $100bn annually that could be used to provide clean water, lifesaving medicines or education. Rich countries, including the UK, lose countless billions more. Yet governments, anxious to defend their own corporate sectors and perceived national interests, have failed to adequately respond to companies’ use of tax loopholes, corporate power and new technology to avoid paying their fair share. Small, taxpaying businesses are forced to operate at a competitive disadvantage against multinationals, encouraging them to find their own dodges in a desperate effort to level the playing field.

    Nowhere is the old proverb “money begets money” more apparent than in how companies seem determined to stuff the pay packets of their top executives, whatever the economic weather. Here in the UK, a FTSE 100 director can expect to pocket about £5.5m a year. A leading UK CEO now earns almost 130 times the wage of their average employee, up from just 10 or 20 times as recently as the 1980s.

    Meanwhile, those without economic power feel the pain: the producer in a developing country, the low-paid UK worker, the woman juggling work and childcare, are squeezed until their pips squeak, all in the name of returning as much money as possible to predominantly wealthy shareholders. Last autumn, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that their fellow Britons were in the midst of decade of lost wage growth, the worst for 70 years. Justifying such a growing divide in terms of merit will be hard. A recent study by CFA, the global association of investment professionals, found the link between the pay and performance of 350 top executives to be negligible.

    In a survey of 700 experts, published ahead of its annual gathering in Davos this week, the World Economic Forum pinpointed inequality as the number one threat to the global economy during the year ahead. It also cited it as a key factor in continuing extreme poverty, political instability, violence and the polarisation of societies. Yet there appears little hope of substantive change being proposed by leaders at WEF. In the short-term at least, GDP growth will remain their answer to all ills.

    We have made huge progress in reducing global poverty, and wealth creation has played a major part. But the real incomes of the world’s very poorest have gone up by just $3 a year over the last 25 years. We need to recognise that economic growth and wealth creation are not in themselves enough to ensure decency and dignity for all.

    A properly functioning economy requires our companies to see themselves as vital contributors to society, rather than a means of extracting wealth from it. It demands that governments set the rules in a way that reward, rather than penalise, them for good behaviour. It requires us to better balance the important incentives for people to save, invest and create jobs with an approach to sharing the benefits that will allow countries to run the public services that all citizens need, the poor far more than the rich; that allows people to earn a real living; and that supports the most vulnerable.

    Moving towards a more human economy also means looking seriously at different approaches to corporate ownership – such as cooperatives and other forms of wider involvement – and how they can help in giving a greater number of people a greater stake in both the national and global economies. There are individuals and companies that are already trying to do it right but they are the exception not the norm.

    Responsible and responsive leadership – the theme of this year’s Davos conference – requires governments and companies to really step up if we are to eradicate extreme poverty as the world committed to so bravely in the sustainable development goals just 16 months ago.

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  • Woman kidnapped from Florida hospital as newborn 18 years ago defends 'mother' who raised her

     

    A woman who was kidnapped as a baby just hours after she was born at a Florida hospital and was found 18 years later, has defended the woman who brought her up as her own child.

    'My mother raised me with everything I needed and most of all everything I wanted,' wrote 18-year-old Kamiyah Mobley on Facebook. 'My mother is no felon.'

    Ms Mobley was found in Walterboro, South Carolina some 18 years after she was kidnapped from the University Medical Centre in Florida on July 10, 1998 when she was just eight hours old. 

    Suspect Gloria Williams, 51 years old was arrested this morning in SCSuspect Gloria Williams was arrested on Friday morning

    Grainy footage, recorded on CCTV, showed pictures of a women dressed as a nurse, wearing scrubs and surgical gloves, leaving the hospital with the baby in her arms.

    On Friday, Jacksonville sheriff Mike Williams announced that police had charged Gloria Williams, 51, who had raised Ms Mobley, with kidnapping. 

    A police sketch of the suspect from the time of the kidnapping
    A police sketch of the suspect at the time of the kidnapping

    Ms Mobley had been given a different name by those who raised her, which police decided not to release. Mr Williams said that DNA testing had confirmed Ms Mobley's identity.

    Kamiyah Mobley, now 18, was found living in South Carolina on Friday living under the name Alexis Manigo. Pictured with Gloria Williams who has been arrested for kidnapping
    Kamiyah Mobley, now 18, was found living in South Carolina on Friday living under the name Alexis Manigo. Pictured with Gloria Williams who has been arrested for kidnapping Credit: Facebooko

    "She's taking it as well as you can imagine," he said of the 18-year-old. "She has a lot to process. She has a lot to think about." It is now up to the teenager whether she gets in touch with her birth family. 

    Mr Williams said she appeared to be a "healthy" and "normal" young woman. She had only begun to suspect a couple of months ago that her past might not be altogether normal, he said.

    Ms Mobley got to spend a few emotional moments with Williams following her arrest. She cried "Momma" through the caged window of a security door after Williams, who is also charged with interference with custody, waived extradition to Florida, according to local TV station WXJT, which posted a video of the scene online

    Velma Aiken, the paternal grandmother of Kamiyah Mobley, who was kidnapped as an infant 18 years ago, gets a congratulatory hug from a family member after Mobley was found safe
    Grandmother Velma Aiken gets a congratulatory hug from a family member after news that her granddaughter has been found Credit: Will Dickey/AP/The Florida Times-Union

    Ms Mobley was found after a series of tip-offs to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children last year. The FBI assisted in the investigation.  

    The case was featured on America’s Most Wanted and a $250,000 reward was offered. Over the years, police received more than 2,500 tip-offs in connection with the case.

     

    On Friday, investigators called retired detectives who had tried to find the missing baby to tell them of the latest development in the case.

    The young woman's biological parents and grandmother were "extremely excited and overwhelmed with emotion" at the news, Mr Williams said. 

    Kamiya's biological mother pictured in 1998 after her daughter was abducted
    Kamiya's biological mother pictured in 1998 after her daughter was abducted

    They cried "tears of joy" after a detective told them their baby had been found. Within hours Friday, they were able to reconnect over FaceTime with Ms Mobley who has been provided with counselling in order to process the new reality of her life.

    "She looks just like her daddy," her paternal grandmother, Velma Aiken of Jacksonville, told The Associated Press after they were able to see each other for the first time. "She act like she been talking to us all the time. She told us she'd be here soon to see us."

    Ms Aiken said she was thrilled to know that they can speak with each other as much as they want. "I always prayed, 'Don't let me die before I see my grandbaby'," she said. "My prayer was answered."

    Craig Aiken, father of Kamiyah Mobley, who was kidnapped as an infant 18 years ago
    Craig Aiken, the father of Kamiyah Mobley Credit: Will Dickey/AP/The Florida Times-Union

    Her mother Shanara Mobley told The Florida Times-Union newspaper in 2008, on the 10th anniversary of the kidnapping, that on her daughter's birthday each years she had wrapped a piece of birthday cake in foil and put it in the freezer.

    Kamiyah Mobley, now 18, was found living in South Carolina on Friday living under the name Alexis Manigo 
    Kamiyah Mobley, now 18, was found living in South Carolina on Friday living under the name Alexis Manigo  Credit: Facebook

    "It's stressful to wake up every day, knowing that your child is out there and you have no way to reach her or talk to her," she said.

    Mr Williams said he did not know if or when Ms Mobley would reach out to her birth family. 

    "She's 18, an adult and clearly a victim in this case," he said. "A case like we have not seen in this country for a long time." 

    News moved quickly through the community of Walterboro (pop. 5,100)  early on Friday after police cars swarmed Williams' home.

    Velma Aiken said her prayers had been answered
    Velma Aiken said her prayers had been answered

    "She wasn't an abused child or a child who got in trouble, but she grew up with a lie for 18 years." a stunned Joseph Jenkins said of the young woman who lived across the street and awoke to see officers searching the house and the shed around back.

    "At the fish market, the hair dresser, the gas station, they're all talking about it," added Ruben Boatwright, who said he's known Williams for about 15 years.

    Lakeshia Jenkins, Joseph's wife, said Williams and the girl would often come over for cookouts in the yard, or join their family at a nearby water park. Kamiyah seemed to be well cared for, and "Ms. Williams, she seemed like a normal person," Jenkins said.

    "She went to work, came back here and went to church every Sunday," she said.

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  • Why didn't Sasha Obama join her family in Chicago for farewell address?

    Why didn't Sasha Obama join her family in Chicago for farewell address?
    ===============
    It was one of the more emotional moments of President Barack Obama's farewell address. When his family joined Obama on the stage, at the close of his farewell speech, they held hands and waved at the audience, creating an image of the family that mirrored a similar one from more than eight years ago, at Obama's victory rally in the same city. But one member of the family was missing: the younger first daughter, Sasha.

    And immediately, the Internet noticed. People tweeted in confusion, wondering where the teenager might be. What could possibly be more important than seeing her father's parting address? They asked and hypothesized. Soon enough, the answer arrived. She had an exam at school Wednesday morning, a White House official told CBS News. While her family travelled to Chicago, Sasha stayed back in Washington, D.C. The 15-year-old attends Sidwell Friends, a highly selective school in the nation's capital. On the school's website, a schedule for the Upper School's mid-academic year exams lists a science exam scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday.
    Listed on the same page, the exam protocols include guidelines that "students must adhere to the published examination schedule. Absence for travel is not an adequate reason to re-schedule an exam." Even, perhaps, if the travel is for your father's presidential farewell address?

    It is not the first time that Sasha's academic commitments have made headlines. In March, Obama announced that he and his family will stay in Washington for a couple of years after his presidency so that Sasha can finish high school. "Transferring someone in the middle of high school," the president said. "Tough."
    Source: © 2017, Chicago Tribune

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  • Breaking News : Dylann Roof Sentenced to Death for Charleston Church Massacre

    An admitted white supremacist was sentenced to death Tuesday for massacring nine black worshipers who'd invited him to study the Bible with them at a Charleston, S.C., church, ending a two-phase federal trial that exposed the killer's hate-fueled motives and plumbed the chasms of grief left by the victims' deaths.

    The jury, the same that convicted Dylann Roof in the murders last month, announced its verdict after deliberating less than three hours.

    Roof, 22, who represented himself in the penalty phase, did very little to persuade the panel to spare his life. He declined to present any witnesses or evidence, blocked standby defense lawyers' attempts to raise questions about his mental health, and suggested in his closing statement that arguing for life in prison wasn't worth the effort.

    As the verdicts were announced, Roof stared straight ahead, or looked down. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel scheduled formal sentencing for Wednesday morning. Roof then asked for a lawyer to help file a motion for a new trial, which Gergel said he'd consider before the sentencing, but added that the request didn't seem justified.

    Roof now becomes the 63rd person on federal death row, and the first to be put there since Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted in 2015.

    Nevertheless, it will likely be years before he is put to death; the federal government has put executions on hold out of concerns about lethal injection drugs, and appeals could put off the date even further. The last federal execution took place in 2003.

    And Roof still faces a second trial, by the state of South Carolina, where he also faces the death penalty. The date of that trial has not been determined.

    From the start of the trial, Roof's guilt was hardly in doubt.

    It took the 12-person jury a little over two hours to convict Roof last month on all 33 counts, including two dozen that fall under federal hate crime statutes.

     
    Mourning the victims of the Charleston church shooting 2:46

    During that phase of the trial, defense lawyer David Bruck put no witnesses on the stand and raised no objections when prosecutors played Roof's videotaped confession to the FBI, which was made following his arrest. In it, Roof admitted he was guilty and that the motive was to spark a race war. He told the FBI men he was surprised he was able to kill as many people as he did with his .45-caliber Glock pistol.

    Witnesses included two women who survived the shooting, Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard, who testified that Roof told her, "I'm going to leave you here to tell the story."

    Related: Charleston Massacre Survivor Says Suspect Dylann Roof Opened Fire as Victims Stood to Pray

    For the penalty phase, a judge allowed Roof to represent himself, but only after conducting a competency hearing that remains under seal. Roof told the jury that "there is nothing wrong with me psychologically," and that he chose to mount his own defense to prevent lawyers from presenting mental health evaluations.

    Image: Police tape surrounds the parking lot behind the AME Emanuel Church

    Police tape surrounds the parking lot behind the AME Emanuel Church as FBI forensic experts work the crime scene, in Charleston, South Carolina on June 19 2015. Stephen B. Morton / AP

    Prosecutors focused on the lives of the victims — the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; the Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; and Tywanza Sanders, 26. The government used photos, video, audio recordings and testimony from loved ones to explore the killings' aftermath.

    Also key to the government's case was was showing Roof's planning for the June 17, 2015 massacre, in which Roof targeted a group of worshipers who'd invited him to study the Bible with them on a Wednesday night, waiting nearly an hour before opening fire.

    The government has also stressed Roof's apparent lack of remorse afterward.

    Prosecutors shared with the jury portions of Roof's jailhouse journal, dated six weeks after the killings.

    "I do not regret what I did," Roof wrote. "I am not sorry."

    After the verdict, U.S. Sen Tim Scott of South Carolina said the jury had made the right decision, and that it would mark "a pivotal moment" in the victims' families' "road toward some sort of closure."

     

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  • Department of State Actions in Response to Russian Harassment

    Press Statement

    Mark C. Toner
    Deputy Department Spokesperson
    Washington, DC
    December 29, 2016

     


    The State Department today declared persona non grata 35 Russian officials operating in the United States who were acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic or consular status. The Department also informed the Russian Government that it would deny Russian personnel access to two recreational compounds in the United States owned by the Russian Government.

    The Department took these actions as part of a comprehensive response to Russia’s interference in the U.S. election and to a pattern of harassment of our diplomats overseas that has increased over the last four years, including a significant increase in the last 12 months. This harassment has involved arbitrary police stops, physical assault, and the broadcast on State TV of personal details about our personnel that put them at risk. In addition, the Russian Government has impeded our diplomatic operations by, among other actions: forcing the closure of 28 American corners which hosted cultural programs and English-language teaching; blocking our efforts to begin the construction of a new, safer facility for our Consulate General in St. Petersburg; and rejecting requests to improve perimeter security at the current, outdated facility in St. Petersburg.

    Today’s actions send a clear message that such behavior is unacceptable and will have consequences.

     

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  • Thirty five Russian Diplomats expelled from United States

    As president Barack Obama is wrapping up his term in office, United States is expelling thirty five Russian Diplomats from the country.

    The Diplomats will have seventy two hours before they leave the United States.

    President Obama is said to have described expelled Russian diplomats as “intelligence operatives.” His administration implicated them in involvement during US election by way of cyber operation. The action is “in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of US officials and cyber operations aimed at the US election,” RTquoted Obama.

    A report by CNN seem to suggest that Obama’s action is a retaliation against Russia for “significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities.”

    Apparently, Obama’s action is informed by intelligence consensus regarding alleged Russian involvement in US election. The White House condemned what it calls Russian involvement as “unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

    To say that Russian cyber activities influenced US election, including the outcome, certainly implies that there is a conviction that the election was somewhat defective,at least, which in turn amounts to saying that Donald Trump didn’t win though legitimate means.

    A section of statement from The White House cited by CNN reads “Russia’s cyberactivities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in US democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the US government…”

    Russian Staff will no longer have access to Russian Federation premises in New York and Maryland, indicated reports from CNN and RT.

    So far no official response from the Kremlin regarding the expulsion of Russian Diplomats. When the US imposed economic sanctions against Russia, Russia reciprocated United States’ action by imposing economic sanction on the United States.

    Without disclosing details, Russian president stated that Russia will respond adequately for what the US called “sanctions” ; the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

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  • A black mother told police a white man assaulted her child. They arrested her instead. - Washington Post

    A Fort Worth police officer has been placed on “restricted duty status” after a viral video emerged Wednesday showing the officer arresting a mother who called authorities to report that her 7-year-old son has been assaulted.

    In a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday, police said the department’s Internal Affairs Unit is investigating the incident, which led to the arrest of the mother, Jacqueline Craig, and her two daughters, according to video of the incident that was posted on Facebook.

    Craig, 46, and her relatives are black, and the officer — who has not been named by police — is white.

    The nearly 6-minute video — which shows the officer pointing his stun gun at teenagers during the controversial arrests — has been shared more than 65,000 times and racked up nearly 1 million views.

    Craig was charged with resisting arrest, according to jail records obtained by the Star-Telegram.

    Brea Hymond, one of Craig’s teenage daughters, was also charged with resisting arrest and interfering with public duty, the paper reported.

    A second 15-year-old daughter was also arrested, but charging information was not immediately available.

    Lee Merritt, an attorney for the woman, told the Star-Telegram that he wants the charges against his clients “dropped immediately,” calling them “completely manufactured.”

    “We want to see the officer involved terminated from his position as a peace officer within Fort Worth and would also like to see him prosecuted criminally for his behavior — for his felony assault of my clients,” Merritt added. “We would like to see the individual who all this started from — the neighbor who assaulted a 7-year-old child — prosecuted as well.”

    He noted on Twitter that police didn’t take Craig’s original report about her son allegedly being assaulted.

    On Wednesday morning, Merritt tweeted that he was working to secure the release of both women. By Wednesday afternoon, that release had occurred, according to the lawyer’s Twitter feed.

     
     
     
     

    The police statement said investigators “worked throughout the night” interviewing witnesses and reviewing video evidence, including footage from the officer’s body camera.

    The statement asked the public to remain calm Thursday as their investigation into the troubling continues.

    “We acknowledge that the initial appearance of the video may raise serious questions,” the police statement said. “We ask that our investigators are given the time and opportunity to thoroughly examine the incident and to submit their findings.”

    “The process may take time, but the integrity of the investigation rests upon the ability of our investigators to document facts and to accurately evaluate the size and scope of what transpired.”

     

    The video begins with Craig explaining to the officer that her children told her that a man in her Fort Worth neighborhood grabbed her son by the neck after the child refused to pick up litter.

    “You could’ve came to me,” Craig tells the accused man, who stands nearby. “Don’t put your hands on my son.”

    “Well why don’t you teach your son not to litter,” the officer responded.

    Craig then replied, “He can’t prove to me that my son littered, but it doesn’t matter if he did or didn’t, it doesn’t give him the right to put his hands on him.”

    “Why not?” the officer responded.

    The comment prompts someone outside the shot to remind the officer that he’s being recorded.

    Craig, growing pained, tells the officer that he doesn’t know what she teaches her son and that children don’t always follow their parent’s rules when adults are out of sight.

    The officer replies that if she keeps yelling it’s going to “piss me off and I’m going to take you to jail.”

    As tensions rise, the video shows Hymond, 19, step in front of Craig and begin to push her away from the officer. At that point, the officer grabs the teenager from behind before aggressively pushing her to the side, knocking Craig to the ground and shoving a taser into her back and then pointing the weapon at others at the scene.

    Merritt told KXAS-TV that Craig’s teenage daughter stepped in between the officer and her mother to de-escalate the situation.

    As the officer grabs the teen’s shoulder from behind a voice screams, “Don’t grab her! Don’t grab her!”

    As the incident unfolds a woman can be heard telling the officer that he is “on live.”

    The video shows the officer arresting Hymond while the person filming follows him with her phone yelling profanities and telling the officer that he’s “arresting a 15-year-old.”

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  • Russian Ambassador Shot Dead in Turkey as Syria War Roils Region - Boomberg

    Russia’s ambassador was shot dead in the Turkish capital on Monday in an assassination apparently linked to Syria’s civil war, heightening tensions over a conflict that’s drawn in almost all the region’s main powers.

    Andrey Karlov was shot in the back at an art exhibit in Ankara on Monday, and later died from injuries sustained, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The assailant shouted comments about Aleppo, the Syrian city where mostly Islamist rebels have been defeated this month by Russian-backed government forces, CNN-Turk television said. Turkish media reported that the attacker was killed by security forces.

    Karlov’s killing comes days after one of Russia’s biggest victories since it joined the Syrian war last year in support of President Bashar al-Assad. Assad’s army, with Russian air support, has retaken almost all of the city that was once Syria’s largest. Turkey, which has backed the rebels in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, has played a key role along with Russia in negotiating the ongoing evacuation of fighters and civilians.

    The attack on the Russian ambassador is the latest flashpoint between major powers that are engaged on opposite sides of the Syrian war. Ties between Turkey and Russia came under heavy strain after the Turkish military shot down a Russian plane last year, though both governments have since made an effort to repair them. The U.S., Iran and Saudi Arabia are among the other countries that are either fighting in Syria themselves or providing money and weapons to groups that are.

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  • BBC Breaking News : Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov wounded in gun attack in Turkey

    The Russian ambassador to Ankara, Andrei Karlov, has been shot and seriously injured while visiting a photo gallery in the Turkish capital.

    Several other people were reportedly also injured in the attack, a day after protests in Turkey over Russia's military intervention in Syria.

    Mr Karlov was taken to hospital to be treated for his injuries.

    According to Russian TV, the ambassador had been attending an exhibition called "Russia as seen by Turks".

    Video of the event shows Mr Karlov making a speech when gunshots ring out.

    The camera pulls back to show a smartly dressed gunman, wearing a suit and tie, waving a pistol and shouting.

    The gunman repeats the Islamic phrase "Allahu Akbar" (God is great") and also shouts "don't forget about Aleppo".

    While there were protests in recent days, on a political level the Turkish and Russian governments have been co-operating in the Aleppo ceasefire operation, the BBC's Turkey correspondent, Mark Lowen, reports.

    It is too early to know the motives of the attacker, who has not yet been named. Some reports say he entered the art gallery using a police ID card, our correspondent adds.

     

     

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