Aug 20, 2018

U.S. rejects Turkey's terms for release of jailed pastor

Andrew Brunson (R) escorted by plainclothes police to his home, where he remains under house arrest. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

The White House has rejected Turkey's attempt to link a U.S. investigation into Halkbank, a state-owned Turkish bank accused of helping Iran skirt sanctions, with the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson, the Wall Street Journal's Michael Bender reports, citing a senior White House official.

Between the lines: President Trump thought he already had a deal last month to secure the release of Brunson, who faces dubious terrorism charges in Turkey, and was infuriated when the pastor was instead moved to house arrest. Trump is now demanding Brunson's immediate release from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, refusing to tie his detention to any other issues.

  • Rather than release Brunson last month, Erdogan attempted to use him as leverage to reduce the punishment on Halkbank and discourage further investigation of the bank by the Treasury Department. His government seemed stunned by Trump's infuriated response.
  • "Political ties will remain tense until Erdogan finds a way to release Brunson and sell it in Turkey," says Soner Cagaptay of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "Erdogan didn’t want this crisis with Trump, but now he’s looking at how he can intertwine it with the other crises he faces," Cagaptay added. Most notably, Erdogan is blaming Turkey's economic meltdown on U.S. sanctions, despite having largely caused it with his own economic policies.
  • The standoff has led to fears that relations between the U.S. and Turkey, a NATO ally, could break down entirely.

Go deeper: How U.S.-Turkey relations reached a breaking point.

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World coronavirus updates: Spain's health care system overloaded

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Two planes carrying protective equipment arrived to restock Spain’s overloaded public health system on Wednesday as confirmed cases surpassed 100,000 and the nation saw its biggest death toll so far, Reuters reports.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 930,000 and the global death toll exceeded 46,000 on Wednesday night, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy has reported more than 13,000 deaths.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 932,605 — Total deaths: 46,809 — Total recoveries: 193,177Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 213,372 — Total deaths: 4,757 — Total recoveries: 8,474Map.
  3. Business updates: Small businesses are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus job crisis.
  4. World update: Spain’s confirmed cases surpassed 100,000, and the nation saw its biggest daily death toll so far. More than 500 people were reported dead within the last 24 hours in the U.K., per Johns Hopkins.
  5. State updates: Florida and Pennsylvania are the latest states to issue stay-at-home orders — Michigan has more than 9,000 confirmed cases, an increase of 1,200 and 78 new deaths in 24 hours.
  6. Stock market updates: Stocks closed more than 4% lower on Wednesday, continuing a volatile stretch for the stock market amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  7. 1 future thing: Shifts to telemedicine, at-home diagnostics, and drone delivery are all likely lasting consequences from this pandemic.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases surpass 200,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Positive cases of the novel coronavirus passed 213,000 on Wednesday — nearly twice as many as Italy, per Johns Hopkins — as more state governors issued stay-at-home orders for Americans to curb infection.

The state of play: Trump administration officials are anonymously sounding the alarm that America's emergency stockpile of personal protective equipment is running dangerously low, the Washington Post reports.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 16 mins ago - Health