- Donald Trump urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to avoid conflict with American troops in northern Syria, but a spokesman for the Turkish government said the U.S. must abandon its support for the Kurdish YPG — if it doesn’t, Turkish forces will target American soldiers. Meanwhile Reuters reports that Erdogan is using his control over Turkey’s school system to shape the country’s future as he sees fit:
Erdogan has said one of his goals is to forge a “pious generation” in predominantly Muslim Turkey “that will work for the construction of a new civilization.” His recent speeches have emphasized Turkey’s Ottoman history and domestic achievements over Western ideas and influences. Reviving Imam Hatip, or Imam and Preacher, schools is part of Erdogan’s drive to put religion at the heart of national life after decades of secular dominance, and his old school is just one beneficiary of a government program to pump billions of dollars into religious education.
- The Senate confirmed Kansas Governor Sam Brownback as American ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, but only after Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote. Brownback will resign as governor on January 31.
The Department of Justice recovered the missing text messages exchanged between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
A federal district judge acquitted Senator Bob Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen of seven of 18 counts. The two will face the remaining 11 charges when they’re re-tried by the Department of Justice.
A Texas businessman was sentenced to 46 months in prison for illegally selling radiation hardened semiconductors to China and Russia. The businessman, Peter Zuccarelli, pleaded guilty, and will also have to pay a $50,000 fine.
The U.S. government uses security software from several companies that allowed a Russian defense agency to inspect their source code, which means the federal government may be vulnerable to Russian hacking:
Reuters revealed in October that Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE.N) software known as ArcSight, used to help secure the Pentagon’s computers, had been reviewed by a Russian military contractor with close ties to Russia’s security services.
Now, a Reuters review of hundreds of U.S. federal procurement documents and Russian regulatory records shows that the potential risks to the U.S. government from Russian source code reviews are more widespread.
- The Iranian-backed Shiite militias operating in Iraq formed a political coalition called Manifest Victory:
Ahead of Iraq’s May parliamentary elections, Iranian-backed militias announced the formation of a coalition called al Fatah al Mubin (Manifest Victory). It is led by Hadi al Ameri, chief of the Badr Organization and current Iraqi parliamentarian, who has close ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Qods Force chief Qassem Soleimani called Ameri a “living martyr” last year. The IRGC-backed coalition is poised to shape the next Iraqi government, highlighting the new political order.