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Turkish women blast Iraq policy

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Istanbul, Turkey A group of Turkish female activists confronted Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes Wednesday with heated complaints about the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, turning a session designed to highlight the empowerment of women into a raw display of anger at U.S. policy in the region.

“This war is really, really bringing your positive efforts to the level of zero,” said Hidayet Sefkatli Tuksal, an activist with the Capital City Women’s Forum. She said it was difficult to talk about cooperation between women in the United States and Turkey as long as Iraq was under occupation.

Hughes, a longtime confidant of President Bush with the job of burnishing the U.S. image overseas, has generally met with polite audiences – many of whom received U.S. funding or consisted of former exchange students – during a tour of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey this week.

In this case the U.S. Embassy asked Kader, an umbrella group that supports woman candidates, to assemble the guest list. None of the activists currently receive U.S. funds and the guests apparently had little desire to mince words. Six of the eight women who spoke at the session, held in Ankara, the capital, focused on the Iraq war.

Israel shuts down Hamas charities

Jerusalem Israel shut down charities with ties to Hamas across the West Bank on Wednesday as it widened a five-day offensive against Palestinian militants despite their pledges to stop firing rockets at Israel.

Moving to stop the violence from escalating, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Cairo to try to enlist the aid of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, while Palestinian officials said he would meet later this month with President Bush in Washington.

Gotti goes home to Long Island mansion

New York After six years behind bars, the son of late mob boss John Gotti left his prison cell Wednesday and arrived at his mansion on Long Island’s Gold Coast, where he’ll remain under house arrest pending a retrial in a racketeering case.

John A. “Junior” Gotti, 41, was released from a federal lockup in Manhattan on $7 million bond and then went to his estate in Oyster Bay Cove. While under house arrest, Gotti will be subject to such restrictions as electronic monitoring and random searches.

It took two days to finalize the paperwork to spring Gotti, who claims he has renounced his mob ties after serving as boss of the Gambino crime family. A judge declared a mistrial on most charges in his racketeering case last week, clearing the way for his release pending the retrial next year.

SEC upgrades Frist investigation

Washington The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is examining a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, has upgraded its initial informal inquiry to a formal investigation.

The change means the agency can issue subpoenas for documents rather than just requesting them. Federal prosecutors also are investigating the Tennessee Republican’s recent sale of stock in HCA Inc. about two weeks before its price dropped. Frist’s family founded the big hospital operating company.

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