Turkish Marriage Shows

Here is the original draft of a story I did for The National. The published version was cut a great deal, so I wanted to put up the longer original as well:

ISTANBUL — The two contestants sit on stage with a barrier blocking their line of sight, music playing softly in the background. Erkan is clean-cut with chiseled features and a fair complexion, wearing a purple plaid sports jacket and black collared shirt partially covering a neck tattoo. Zahra looks like a model, tall and thin with long dark hair contrasting sharply with her snow-white outfit and towering high heels.
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Baghdad can do little about Turkish armed forces in northern Iraq

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s recent deployment of troops and tanks into northern Iraq has caused a major diplomatic row between Ankara and Baghdad, but experts say Turkish forces are there to stay.

“Honestly speaking there is not much Baghdad can do,” former Turkish consul to Erbil [capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq] Aydın Selcen said.

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In Turkey, labelling food ‘Kurdish’ still controversial

The Ottoman Empire had a rich culinary tradition flavoured by its various diverse regions and ethnic groups. Chefs in Istanbul’s imperial kitchens borrowed dishes from the different enclaves of the empire – the Balkans, Greece, the Caucasus, Kurdistan, Arabia – fused them with their Central Asian roots, and refined them to create their own unique concoctions, such as baklava, dumplings, stuffed vegetables and various types of kebab.

Present-day Turkey has inherited this cosmopolitan culinary legacy. However, the modern republic defined its identity ethnically, specifically with the Turkish ethnicity. In the past it severely oppressed its various minorities, and in the case of the largest – the Kurds – even denied their very existence, though this repression has largely declined through major reforms in more recent years.

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Residents of doomed ancient town have nowhere to go

The small ancient town of Hasankeyf in southeastern Turkey.

The small ancient town of Hasankeyf in southeastern Turkey.

ISTANBUL – Hasankeyf, an 11,500 year-old town in southeastern Turkey with vestiges of 20 distinct cultures, is slated to be under 60 metres of water in the near future. As construction of the controversial Ilisu Dam nears completion some 80 kilometres away, the government is encouraging the 3,000 mostly poor residents to move into apartments they can’t afford.

“They killed Hasankeyf,” says Ercan Tarhan, who works at a café in the village. He says he doesn’t have much hope for saving his town, and isn’t sure what he’ll do after it’s flooded. “We don’t want to leave.”

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The ‘Magic Pill’: How Music Helps Kids Escape a Stressful World (30 minute radio documentary)

Young people live increasingly stressful lives these days. One way of alleviating this stress is by taking music classes. In fact, researchers agree that studying music has all kinds of benefits for kids. Despite these benefits, most schools in Ontario don’t have a qualified music teacher with a musical background. Many parents therefore put their children into private music classes, but these can be expensive. Advocates argue that a robust musical education should be provided by public schools so that everyone has access. Nick Ashdown reports in Ottawa.

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The CIA’s targeted killing program

As a month of anti-drone protests begins in the United States, some advocates are calling for the controversial targeted killing program to be shifted from the Central Intelligence Agency to the Defence Department. The program targets suspected members of terrorist groups in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Human Rights Watch is among the groups advocating for this transfer. “Our first and primary concern right now is the lack of transparency,” says Andrea Prasow, HRW’s senior counterterrorism counsel for the U.S. She says the Defence Department tends to be more transparent and accountable than the CIA, and must report its actions to Congress.

The Obama administration is widely reported to be seriously considering such a transfer. Prasow is cautiously optimistic. “I think the reason the administration is considering that move is because they recognize that the lack of transparency has become a problem. At least I hope that’s why.”

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OrKidstra (radio documentary)

She calls it the magic pill.

Tina Fedeski believes music can have positive benefits on a child’s confidence, self-discipline and patience.

However, musical programming in schools is less than ideal and private classes can be expensive.

That’s why she started the Leading Note Foundation. The Foundation’s OrKidstra program offers free classes for parents who can’t afford to pay.

Nick Ashdown paid Fedeski and her students a visit.

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