Monday, June 24, 2019 View this email in your browser

Sound bites: Trump threatened new sanctions on Iran • protests broke out in Prague • Ekrem Imamoglu is the new mayor of Istanbul • the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the case of Curtis Flowers.



U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened fresh sanctions (penalties) on Iran. ICYMI, tensions have been escalating between the two countries since Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal last May.
Quick recap, please.
The agreement, made in 2015 between the U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China, Germany, and the European Union, lifted penalties on Iran so that Iran would stop working on its nuclear program. Trump argued the deal was one-sided and didn't believe it actually stopped Iran from building bombs. Reinstating the penalties on Iran impacted the country’s transportation, gas, and financial industries. The other countries have been trying to make the deal work sans the U.S., but recently, Iran said European countries haven’t been doing a good job protecting it from U.S. sanctions.
What now?
Iran has threatened to break the nuclear deal by the end of June if the EU doesn’t come through. Since Trump started reinstating sanctions on Iran, a Huawei exec was arrested in Vancouver, Iran was accused of shooting down two oil tankers, a U.S. drone was shot down, and the U.S. launched a cyber attack on Iranian rocket launch systems. The good news is, Trump’s threat on Saturday came with an olive branch – Trump said he’s open to making a deal to help Iran’s economy. TBD if Iran is game.


In the Czech Republic, 250,000 people gathered in the capital city of Prague to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. This movement is the country’s biggest anti-government uprising since the 1989 velvet revolution which ended communism in what was then known as Czechoslovakia.

What’s the problem?
Babiš, billionaire and second richest man in the country, campaigned on an anti-corruption platform. But in an expected twist of events, he’s become a symbol of corruption. In addition to being PM, Babiš also owns a massive agricultural & renewable energy company called Agrofert and a major Czech publishing house called Mafra which produces two of the country’s largest newspapers. Dubbed “Czech Trump,” Babiš has also been accused of fraud involving European Union (EU) funds (FYI, Czech Republic is part of the EU).

What are the accusations?
Two leaked audits show: 1) the European Commission is investigating whether Babiš being both PM and owner of a major business receiving funds from the EU is a conflict of interest, 2) the police have suggested criminal charges against Babis for fraud. He was allegedly receiving grants from the EU for his agricultural business, and 3) Agrofert has been receiving grants, tax breaks, and investment incentives. Babiš claims the documents are fake. Yesterday’s protest is the fifth against the PM since April.


The city of Istanbul, Turkey signalled to President Tayyip Erdoğan that it’s ready for change. The city handed power to a new mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, who defeated Erdoğan’s AK Party candidate, Binali Yildirim. This is the second election Imamoglu has won. In March, Imamoglu won a surprise victory against the AK Party that didn’t go over well. The AK Party complained about “irregularities” and fought to cancel the results. But Imamoglu won again; 54% of the vote. His victory means Istanbul won’t be ruled by Erdogan’s party for the first time in 25 years.
Tell me more.
Imamoglu is a former businessman and member of the Republican People’s Party. During his campaign, he declined to criticize Erdoğan and instead extended an olive branch to the AK Party and asked to work with them to figure out Istanbul’s problems. This election was a test to what many see as the president’s increasingly authoritarian power. While he led some good economic years for Turkey, he has now become intolerant of anyone opposing his rule.


An African-American man named Curtis Flowers was convicted of murder in 1997. He has been tried for the same crime six times – the murder of four people at a furniture store in Winona, Mississippi in 1996. He has won appeals several times, but prosecutor Doug Evans has tried him again each time. Flowers has been on death row for almost 20 years. The sixth trial went up to the Supreme Court on the grounds of racial bias. The defence argued that Evans purposely struck black jurors from the trials. Yesterday, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 7-2, agreed. But this doesn’t mean that Flowers is a free man. The 49-year-old will likely remain in prison until the state decides to either retry him or let him go. Want to learn more about this case and how it got to this point? Listen to the In The Dark podcast.


The Shoebox Project for Women, founded by Canadian celebrity stylist Jessica Mulroney, collects and distributes gift-filled shoeboxes for women who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. Each shoebox is filled with items valued at $50. The purpose of the box is to help women in crisis reduce feelings of isolation, guilt and shame. The Shoebox Project recently kicked off the summer season with an event in Toronto that raised $10,000 in one night. If you’d like to get involved or to get notified on the next Shoebox project, click here.


• ICYMI, Team Canada is in the Round of 16 in the Women’s World Cup. From this point forward, the games are win-or-go-home. Canada plays Sweden today at 3 pm ET.

• Watch Raptors coach Nick Nurse jam with Arkells at their concert in Toronto.

• Watch Ed Sheeran’s new music video for Cross Me using some cool CGI.

• The BET Awards took place last night with some big performances. Watch Lil Nas X perform with Billy Ray Cyrus, and Cardi B kill her opening performance. See all the winners here.

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