Opposition Candidate’s Victory Tossed Out In Istanbul Mayor’s Race

Ekrem Imamoglu spoke to supporters last month after he was declared the winner of the Istanbul mayor’s race. The country’s election authority has now announced that the race must be re-run, according to state media.

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Turkish election authorities have voided a major election victory for the country’s main opposition party, according to Turkish state media. A re-run of the election for the mayor of Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous city, will reportedly be held on June 23.

Ekrem Imamoglu from the opposition Republican People’s Party (known as the CHP) narrowly won the mayor’s race on March 31.

Imamoglu denounced the Turkish election authority in a speech to supporters on Monday, saying that they had buckled under pressure from the government, as Reuters reported. “They were placed under political pressure from day one.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party, which has held that position of mayor of Istanbul for some 25 years, had file a complaint against the result.

Erdogan had said that there were “clearly irregularities” in the voting, as NPR’s Peter Kenyon reported from Istanbul. According to the state-run Anadolu Agency, the country’s Supreme Election Council ruled in favor of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s complaint by seven votes to four.

“You are free to compete against the [ruling] AKP in an election, but you are not allowed to win,” CHP deputy chairman Onursal Adiguzel said in a tweet. “This order, in which the will of the people is trampled on and the laws are ignored, is neither democratic nor legitimate. This is a downright dictatorship!”

The ruling party candidate, Binali Yildirim, has said that he hoped the ruling would mean “beneficial and beautiful results for Istanbul,” as Reuters reported.

The Turkish lira tumbled on Monday afternoon as reports emerged of a re-run.

According to local newspaper Hurriyet, the AKP had alleged that “there were tens of thousands of ineligible voters who cast votes in the elections and that scores of polling station officials were appointed against regulations.”

Some observers say the decision erodes democracy in Turkey.

“Until now, it was one man, one vote, from now on it is: vote until the governing party wins,” said Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkish Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Today’s decision to reverse the Istanbul mayoral election is the greatest distortion of democratic elections in Turkey since the country’s first free and fair polls in 1950.”

Erdogan’s party also lost the mayor’s race in Ankara, the country’s capital, in the March country-wide municipal elections where he was actively campaigning for his party’s candidates.

Erdogan himself was mayor of Istanbul in the late 1990s. As the BBC notes, he has often remarked, “Whoever wins Istanbul wins Turkey.”

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Alabama Judge Rules ‘Systematic Inadequacies’ Fueled Prison Suicides, Orders Monitor

Prisoners stand in a crowded lunch line at Elmore Correctional Facility in Elmore, Ala. in June 2015. On Saturday, a U.S. District Court Judge determined the state’s Department of Corrections had not adequately addressed a spike in prisoner suicides.

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A federal judge has determined that the risk of suicide among state prisoners in Alabama, “is so severe and imminent” that he ordered the state’s Department of Corrections to immediately implement permanent mental health remedies to address “severe and systematic inadequacies.”

The decision by Judge Myron Thompson on Saturday, comes after 15 prisoners killed themselves in the span of 15 months.

In a 210-page ruling that includes summaries of the circumstances leading to each of the inmate suicides, Thompson agreed with prisoners’ attorneys that the spike had reached crisis levels, a result of what he previously said are “horrendously inadequate” mental health services provided to inmates.

In addition to ordering the Alabama Department of Corrections to comply with a host of court ordered measures he issued in a 2017 ruling, Thompson also required the state to establish an internal monitoring system and said the court will appoint an interim external monitor to oversee the department’s progress.

“The more someone fails to do something he agreed to do, the bigger the need to supervise whether he does it in the future,” Thompson wrote, adding that existing monitoring efforts “have been too little, too late.”

Five of the 15 suicides occurred between January and March this year. In one instance a prisoner with “severe mental illnesses, as well as intellectual and physical disabilities” killed himself 10 days after testifying in court that he had not received adequate treatment, according to the documents. In another, a man hanged himself roughly 12 hours after being transferred from mental health observation to a segregated cell, rather than being placed on suicide watch.

Although ADOC acknowledged in the court documents that persistent and severe correctional understaffing has significantly contributed to its noncompliance, attorneys had argued that prison officials were working on a plan to reduce the rash of suicides.

“The defendants argue that they cannot prevent all suicides in ADOC. It is true that, as in the free world, not all suicides can be prevented. But this reality in no way excuses ADOC’s substantial and pervasive suicide-prevention inadequacies. Unless and until ADOC lives up to its Eighth Amendment obligations, avoidable tragedies will continue,” Thompson wrote.

Lawyers from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, which represent prisoners in the ongoing case, welcomed the increased oversight.

“The court’s opinion recognizes the urgency of the situation facing ADOC. The system remains grossly understaffed and people are dying as a result,” Maria Morris, senior supervising attorney at the SPLC told Mary Scott Hodgin, reporter for NPR member station WBHM.

“The time has long since come for ADOC to comply with its constitutional obligations, Morris added in a written statement.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice determined the state “routinely violates the constitutional rights of prisoners by failing to protect them from prisoner-on-prisoner violence and sexual abuse,” NPR’s Debbie Elliott reported.

The immediate steps ordered by Thompson were intended to address specific failures by the ADOC. They include adequately-trained personnel for suicide risk assessments; placing people who are suicidal or potentially suicidal on suicide watch; following up with inmates released from suicide watch; and limiting segregated confinement for prisoners released from suicide watch.

Additionally, ADOC must enforce existing policies, including 30-minute check-ins on people in segregation, where most of the suicides occurred, and requiring that staff take immediate life-saving measures when they find an inmate attempting suicide, including immediately cutting down inmates who have hanged themselves.

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How A Fake Candidate Blended Fact And Fiction On The Campaign Trail, 30 Years Ago

Actor Michael Murphy played the fictitious presidential candidate Jack Tanner on the 1988 miniseries Tanner ’88.

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In 1988, a man named Jack Tanner was among the candidates vying to become the next president.

Maybe you remember him. He was seeking the Democratic nomination in a field that included Jesse Jackson and Al Gore.

But you’d be forgiven if you don’t recall the name — since Jack Tanner wasn’t real.

The campaign was an act, the premise of Tanner ’88, an HBO miniseries created by filmmaker Robert Altman and writer and cartoonist Garry Trudeau.

These days, politics can feel a lot like reality television. But more than 30 years ago, Tanner ’88 was already blending fact and fiction on the campaign trail.

The show followed the fictional presidential candidate during the real 1988 presidential election, filming and airing during the actual Democratic primary.

Actor Michael Murphy, as Tanner, did everything a presidential candidate is supposed to do. The fake candidate made real campaign stops, alongside real politicians.

“I’d say, ‘Yeah, I’m Jack Tanner, I’m running for president,’ and they’d say, ‘Yeah, good luck.’ And I never got busted,” Murphy, now 80, says.

In the 2004 documentary Altman, the filmmaker behind M.A.S.H. and Nashville describes Tanner ’88 as “experimental television” that’s neither a documentary nor fictional.

Murphy remembers when Altman first pitched him the idea of a presidential run.

“And I said, ‘President of what?’ ” Murphy recalls. “And he said, ‘Of the country for C*****’s sake.’ “

As a “candidate,” Jack Tanner was outspoken and fairly liberal by 1988 standards, supporting issues like legalizing marijuana. His daughter, Alexandra, played by Cynthia Nixon, was always by his side, often encouraging him to take stronger stances on particular issues.

Because filming took place on the actual campaign trail, Murphy found it easy to get into character. He shook hands with voters and took questions from the press like the real candidates.

“I got so relaxed about it, because it was just day in and day out,” he says. “I got pretty slick at it, as a matter of fact.”

Of course, a lot of people did know they were making a TV show – such as all of the real candidates, including the eventual Democratic nominee, Michael Dukakis.

Still, it got confusing sometimes. A fake press pool would follow Murphy around real campaign events with cameras, as candidate Tanner bumped shoulders with the real contenders on the campaign trail.

“Poor, old Bob Dole, he didn’t know who was shooting him and who was an actor and who was what,” Murphy says, referring to the former senator who was in the running to be the Republican nominee in 1988.

Actors Cynthia Nixon, left, and Michael Murphy attend the Democratic National Convention, July 2004, in Boston.

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Even so, Murphy says, people played along all the way through filming. When Murphy did an interview on Good Morning America during the campaign, host Charles Gibson asked him questions as if he were Jack Tanner — never mentioning that he wasn’t a real candidate.

Tanner ’88 ends as Dukakis wins the Democratic nomination, with Tanner contemplating a run as an independent in the general election. (Dukakis lost the actual 1988 presidential race to incumbent Republican George H.W. Bush.)

The entire show was an experiment that blurred the lines between entertainment and politics. And those lines are getting blurrier all the time.

Murphy’s Tanner ’88 co-star Cynthia Nixon — who would go on to star in another HBO series, Sex and the City — had an unsuccessful bid for New York governor last year.

And, of course, there’s The Apprentice veteran, President Donald Trump.

As the current presidential race gears up, Murphy watches the action from his home in Maine. He can sympathize with the candidates. He’s been there.

But even Murphy worries that modern politics feels a little too much like Hollywood.

“Because we all have gigantic egos,” he says. “Let’s face it, actors and politicians, we’re all kind of weirdly cut of the same cloth.”

Emma Bowman contributed to this report. Matt Ozug edited the radio story.

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