Prime minister changes park plans
Turkey's combative prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Friday abandoned his plan to build a shopping mall on one of the few green patches in central Istanbul, but he insisted on razing the park nevertheless, a mixed signal that could prolong weeklong protests.
Pulling back from a plan that he had announced two years ago to build a replica of an Ottoman-era army barracks on the site of Gezi Park, Erdogan said the mall "is not possible in the artillery barracks anyway, given the measurements." He added: "We may build a city museum instead, and a green area that would be far better than the current park."
Two demonstrators and a policeman have died since police harshly broke up a peaceful protest against the original plan, provoking the worst unrest Turkey has seen in years and inciting worldwide criticism of Erdogan.
Arson may be cause of bus fire that killed 47
A fire that gutted a commuter bus, killing 47 and injuring dozens more during rush hour in a port city in southeastern China, appears to have been deliberately set, state media quoted investigators as saying today.
The fire ripped through the bus during the Friday evening commute while it traveled on an elevated road in Xiamen city. The official Xinhua News Agency said today that 34 people remained hospitalized.
Senate starts debate on immigration bill
The Senate opened floor debate Friday on a bipartisan proposal to overhaul immigration laws, kicking off a process that chamber leaders hoped would result in a vote on the comprehensive legislation before July 4.
"The vast majority of American people want us to move forward on this," said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., as he made a motion to proceed with the bill.
House leaders have said they will proceed with their own immigration bill.
After visit, new call for closing Gitmo
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and two leading senators on national security reaffirmed their support for closing the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after visiting the facility on Friday.
In a joint statement issued by McDonough and Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and John McCain-R-Ariz., they said they appreciated the service of those in charge of the 166 terror suspects at Guantanamo. Feinstein is the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and McCain is the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee.
President Barack Obama has renewed his promise to close the naval facility. His declaration came amid a widespread hunger strike among detainees.
Putin aide denies there is other woman
A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin took the unusual step Friday of announcing publicly that Putin is not in a romantic relationship, trying to quiet speculation that he and his wife of 29 years are divorcing to allow him to remarry.
Though he mentioned no names, Dmitry Peskov was in part addressing persistent rumors that Putin is involved with an Olympic gold medalist in rhythmic gymnastics and that the two have a child.
WASHINGTON: Prosecutors on Friday recommended four years in prison for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., following his guilty plea on criminal charges that he engaged in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items. The government suggested an 18-month sentence for Jackson's wife, Sandra, who pleaded guilty to filing false joint federal income tax returns that understated the couple's income.
Los Angeles: Richard Ramirez, the demonic serial killer known as the Night Stalker who was convicted of 13 murders that terrorized Southern California in 1984 and 1985, died early Friday in a hospital, a prison official said. Ramirez, 53, had been taken from San Quentin's death row to a hospital where authorities said he died of liver failure.
INDIA: A court in northern India on Friday sent three Nepalese men arrested on suspicion of gang-raping an American woman this week to prison while police investigate. Police arrested the men Thursday, but they haven't been charged.
Pakistan: A suspected U.S. drone strike killed seven militants in Pakistan near the Afghan border on Friday, Pakistani intelligence officials said. Upon taking office as prime minister on Wednesday, Nawaz Sharif issued an urgent call for the end of U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani soil. Many Pakistanis oppose the strikes, saying they kill civilians.