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Three US senators move to block F-35 transfers to Turkey

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Three U.S. senators introduced a measure on Thursday aimed at blocking the transfer of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Turkey, a NATO ally and one of nine partner nations involved in producing the high-tech, radar-evading aircraft.

The bill, by Republicans James Lankford and Thom Tillis, and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, comes at a time of deteriorating relations between the United States and Turkey, which supported the fight against Islamic State but has become increasingly worried about U.S. backing for Kurdish fighters in north Syria.

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The three senators, in introducing the bill, issued a statement expressing concern that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had embarked on a “path of reckless governance and disregard for the rule of law.”

“Turkey’s strategic decisions regrettably fall more and more out of line with, and at times in contrast to, U.S. interests. These factors make the transfer of sensitive F-35 technology and cutting-edge capabilities to Erdogan’s regime increasingly risky,” Lankford said in the statement.

The Turkish embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Erdogan declared a state of emergency in Turkey following an attempted coup in July 2016. Since then, he has detained tens of thousands of people, cracked down on dissent and carried out purges in the military and bureaucracy. He charges that followers of a U.S.-based cleric were behind the coup attempt.

Erdogan has been a key U.S. ally in the fight against Islamic State but sent troops into the Kurdish-dominated Afrin region of northwestern Syria earlier this year and threatened to quash U.S. plans for a local security force in northern Syria.

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The three senators voiced concern about Turkey’s detention of an American evangelical preacher, Andrew Brunson, a long-time resident of Turkey who was jailed during Erdogan’s crackdown.

“President Erdogan’s choice to take hostages and imprison innocent Americans, to try to gain leverage over the United States, is egregious and unlawful,” Shaheen said in the statement.

Turkey plans to buy more than 100 of the F-35 aircraft. Turkish companies have been involved in producing parts for the fighter, and Ankara is scheduled to begin receiving its first aircraft within a year.

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The bill would restrict the transfer of F-35s to Turkey and limit Ankara from receiving intellectual property or technical data needed to maintain and support the fighters.

It would allow the U.S. president to waive the restrictions by certifying Turkey is not taking steps that would undermine NATO security and not wrongfully detaining U.S. citizens.

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Trump supporter made death threat to whistleblower’s lawyer one day after president targeted him at rally: feds

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A Trump supporter has been charged with making death threats to Mark Zaid, an attorney who represents the whistleblower who filed a complaint against President Donald Trump over his efforts to extort the Ukrainian government.

Politico reports that Michigan resident Brittan J. Atkinson emailed a violent threat to Zaid just one day after the president held up the attorney's photo at one of his rallies and read some of his tweets.

“All traitors must die miserable deaths,” Atkinson allegedly wrote in the email, which was sent on November 7th. “Those that represent traitors shall meet the same fate. We will hunt you down and bleed you out like the pigs you are. We have nothing but time, and you are running out of it. Keep looking over your shoulder. We know who you are, where you live, and who you associate with. We are all strangers in a crowd to you.”

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Venezuela’s Juan Guaido blasts search of detained uncle’s home

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Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido condemned a raid by military intelligence agents who searched his detained uncle's home on Thursday, and vowed he would not bow to government "repression."

His uncle, Juan Marquez, was arrested February 11 on his return to Venezuela with Guaido at the end of an international tour to drum up international support for his efforts to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

The government alleged Marquez was smuggling explosives into the country on the flight from Portugal, a claim strongly denied by Portuguese authorities.

Guaido denounced the search of his uncle's residence in Caracas by military counterintelligence agents on Twitter as it was happening, and said it was an attempt to intimidate him.

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‘Um — he threatened to kill a dog’: Twitter reacts to Roger Stone’s trial judge mentioning that he ‘rescued countless dogs’

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As observers anxiously awaited news on the sentencing of longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, reporters have been tweeting live updates on the developments in the courtroom, one of whom was Daily Beast reporter Betsy Woodruff Swan.

"Jackson notes Stone's support for friends and relatives going through hard times," she tweeted, referring to U.S. District lawyer Amy Berman Jackson. "Adds: 'He’s rescued countless dogs and listened and came to the aid of many friends.'"

https://twitter.com/woodruffbets/status/1230539586083938304

The claim of the Stone's affinity for dogs prompted one Twitter user to point out that Stone apparently hasn't always applied that affinity evenly.

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