Friday, October 30, 2015

Turkish Music Video - Ziynet Sali - Senin Olsun

Turkey takes over media outlets, turns coverage pro-government

A Turkish media house that once criticized the government in its newspapers and television channels printed headlines in favor of the ruling party on Friday after being taken over by the state this week.

The takeover of Bugun and Kanalturk outlets took place just days ahead of a pivotal election, and the crackdown was met with sharp criticism from human rights groups and European officials.

The television stations were not broadcasting news during Friday's morning hours, with Bugun TV airing a show about Turkish food after going off the air on Wednesday. 

Bugun newspaper printed an imposing photo of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan surrounded by military and political leaders, while a front-page photo showed Prime Minister Ahmet Dauvutoglu releasing white doves.

The news outlets were part of a wider network of media operated by Koza Ipek, which was placed under court-appointed trusteeship this week as it faces a range of accusations of financial misconduct.

The court-appointed trustees have reportedly fired journalists at the media outlets, Hurriyet reported.

"This is a completely legal process," Davutoglu told broadcaster NTV on Thursday night, denying government involvement in the takeover and insisting "there is press freedom in Turkey."

Turkey heads to snap elections on Sunday, after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to secure a majority of seats in parliament for the first time since 2002. The AKP controls the interim government.

The Koza Ipek holding company is allegedly connected to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish-born Islamic preacher who is based in the United States.

Gulen and Erdogan were once allies, but have split in recent years and Turkey has since declared the preacher's movement a terrorist group.

The holding company is accused of laundering money and cooking its books. The charges also say the network spread propaganda for the Islamic leader, who has a large global following.

The Gulenists say they are peaceful, globalist and focused on a modern interpretation of Sunni Islam, including teaching math, science and technology.

The moves against the company and its media houses are the latest in a long range of crackdownsagainst Gulen's supporters in Turkey, which has been gaining ground for nearly two years since the group was at the forefront of corruption allegations against the government.

Erdogan, a founder of the Islamic-rooted AKP, has also tried to convince other countries to curtail the movement's activities, including its network of schools, though this has seen very limited success.

The Gulenists operations in the US, where it runs a massive chain of secular charter schools, are under scrutiny by federal authorities for alleged financial improprieties. They deny any wrongdoings.

Turkey: A nation in search of legitimate government

As Turkey goes to the polls this Sunday to elect a government for the second time this year, one wonders what is it this election is going to decide.
The crucial question is not whether this election will produce a single-party majority government or the possibility of coalition rule in line with the previous electoral verdict, but is on the future of democracy in this country and the formation of a political culture that respects the electoral mandate. On both accounts the incumbent government has failed its people. This is probably the first of its kind in the annals of history of democracy where citizens are forced to elect a single-party majority government, failing which, one election after another is thrust upon them until a majority government is elected.
Since the June 7 election that denied the Justice and Development Party (AKP) the majority, Turkey has witnessed troubling times, including the government's sudden decision to end its peace negotiations and launch a war against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), facilitating America's ability to conduct aerial attacks against ISIL, a climate of fear, rising inflation, deteriorating law and order, a decline in industrial outputs, the illegal governmental takeover of private holding companies, bullying those corporations and media that do not support the incumbent government line and public policies; and the rising threat of terrorist attacks, as evidenced by the Ankara bombings.
The AKP government has linked these unfortunate developments to the absence of a stable government and is thus seeking a mandate for a decisive majority in exchange for security, reminding people of the bad days of coalition rule in recent history. Similarly the government has decisively moved to the spectrum of majoritarian politics under which the “Kurdish PKK threat” is expected to increase the share of votes in favor of the ruling party to form the majority government. Whether all these political actions and strategies will meet the expectations of the AKP or not eventually depends on the outcome of the election; however, in the process, the emerging democratic modern identity of the nation has been greatly compromised.

Turkey faced with a Hobbesian choice

Today, the people of Turkey are faced with a Hobbesian choice: to elect a government in the name of democracy without any prospect of democracy in their everyday life. In a single-party state system people do not have any option, hence no expectation either. The Turkish case was different when the AKP grew with a successive democratic mandate under a multi-party democratic system, and to a large extent honored the democratic mandate of the people before relapsing into the authoritarian mode of governance. If the AKP wins even by a slim majority, it will legitimize its authoritarian politics and rule this country with more authoritarian vengeance.
If it cannot form a government, it will remain the single-largest party and hence will retain the greater say in the course of running the coalition government. By any account, the prospect of a non-AKP government is bleak, considering the fact that the opposition is too weak to form a government on its own and too inflexible to form a coalition government without the AKP. The hardened, stubborn attitude of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) foiled any prospect of a non-AKP coalition government in the last election simply on the grounds that it cannot have any alliance with the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), a predominantly Kurdish party. Thus, the prospect of democratic rule in Turkey's near future appears to be slim.
It is indeed strange to observe that while social relations with minority Kurdish people are acceptable to Sunni/secular majoritarian Turks, sharing in the power structure is not acceptable. This is certainly in part on account of the redefined Turkish conception of the republic or, for that matter, any modern nation state constructed on the principle of majoritarianism and homogeneity. Such political formation has the inherent tendency of suspecting the loyalty of its minority citizens -- whether religious or ethnic. Thus, unless Turkey undergoes the de-Turkification/de-statification of its national identity or sheds its culture of majoritarianism, the development of a democratic national identity is not possible. Moreover, a shared conception of the sovereignty of the nation-state often helps in weakening the separatist sentiment prevailing among a section of its population.
Thus, the formation of a democratic national identity demands an inclusive democratic government that goes beyond the principle of a majority government. Such a government can then be called a legitimate government, a government that reflects the aspiration of all sections of people and governs on the principle of national consensus, and not on the principle of majority. A government merely formed on the grounds of majority cannot be a legitimate government if it fails to represent the national aspiration or governs the country in a partisan manner. An example from India is instructive in this regard. Even though current right-wing Hindu outfit, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), claimed the majority on its own in the last parliamentary election for the first time in its history, the party preferred to form a coalition government called the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and attempt to evolve a national consensus on major issues of national interest.
Not long ago the AKP was a model of “Muslim democracy,” partly on account of its inclusive politics that helped the party to secure political support from across all segments of social groups including a good section of the Kurdish population. After the AKP switched over from majoritarianism politics and preferred an authoritarian mode of governance as a strategy for regime survival, it began to affect all aspects of national health: the economy, social harmony, the majority-minority relationship, relations with neighboring countries, governance, etc.
It seems that Turkey has entered an era of serious political instability for a long while to come. Only a credible “alternative Muslim political formation” vis-à-vis the AKP or political flexibility on the part of opposition parties to provide a non-AKP coalition government -- the chances of which appear to be very remote -- can stem the tide of de-democratization in the country. However only a vigilant democratic political culture with strong citizen participation in the affairs of governance can be a powerful deterrent for the kind of arbitrary rule that Turkey is currently witnessing.

Saudi Arabia has a terrible human rights record. Why are they still Canada’s ally?


Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau‘s yet-to-be-named foreign minister will inherit a file of hot-button global issues — not least of which is a secretive arms deal with Saudi Arabia, a country with a long record of human rights violations.
The contract is worth nearly $15 billion and would create a reported 3,000 jobs. But there are fears that in doing so Canada would be arming a government with a history of cracking down on dissent, among an array of other human rights abuses — effectively supplying light armoured vehicles that could  be used against Saudi civilians.

“I would like morality to be reintroduced into the decision about whether arms should be sold,” former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations Paul Heinbecker told Global News.
“I’m not saying arms should never be sold. But we used to have a pretty clear-cut understanding that arms would not be sold into an ongoing conflict nor would they be sold to people who could be expected to use them on their own population.”
Heinbecker is critical of the Conservative government’s secret deal facilitating the arms sale, and of outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision not to sign the Arms Trade Treaty — which, he points out, was signed by the U.S. and every other NATO ally.
“I had the impression that under the Harper government that the sky was basically the limit. There wasn’t anybody they thought they shouldn’t sell arms to. A buck was a buck and there were jobs to be had,” said Heinbecker, now a distinguished fellow with the Centre of International Governance Innovation.
He feels, given Saudi Arabia’s track record on human rights, Canada should have an “arm’s-length relation with the country” and he hopes Trudeau and the Liberals will change Canada’s relationship with the Saudis.
Saudi Arabia has executed at least 134 people so far this year, UN High Commission for Human Rights.
The Saudi government has been slammed for upholding the death sentence of 21-year-old Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, set to be beheaded at any time. Al-Nimr was 17 years old when he was arrested in 2012 for protesting against the government.
“I had the impression that under the Harper government that the sky was basically the limit. There wasn’t anybody they thought they shouldn’t sell arms to. A buck was a buck and there were jobs to be had,” said Heinbecker, now a distinguished fellow with the Centre of International Governance Innovation.
He feels, given Saudi Arabia’s track record on human rights, Canada should have an “arm’s-length relation with the country” and he hopes Trudeau and the Liberals will change Canada’s relationship with the Saudis.
Saudi Arabia has executed at least 134 people so far this year, UN High Commission for Human Rights.
The Saudi government has been slammed for upholding the death sentence of 21-year-old Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, set to be beheaded at any time. Al-Nimr was 17 years old when he was arrested in 2012 for protesting against the government.
Doctors Without Borders said this week the Saudi-led military coalition intervening in Yemen bombed one of its hospitals. According to Vice News, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN admitted the hospital was hit by “mistake” but then recanted his statement and denied the coalition had anything to do with the strike.
Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for criticizing Saudi clerics on his website. His wife, who lives in Quebec with their three children, has been pressuring the Canadian government to help secure his release.
Earlier this year Trudeau called on the Harper government to intervene in the case but he hasn’t indicated whether he plans to do that himself as PM.
Trudeau has said he has no intention of ripping up the arms deal. And he was sharply criticized for calling the light armoured vehicles “jeeps” during the election campaign. He did say he’d sign the arms treaty, however.
A government has to find a “delicate balance” between its international commitments to protect human rights and the “responsibility to create jobs and do other things that… the Canadian people are expecting from the government,” said Houchang Hassan-Yari, a political scientist at the Royal Military College of Canada,
But he thinks the arms deal could be used as leverage, giving the government an opportunity to raise concerns about human rights violations.
“To have any influence, Canada has to have at least a minimal of relationship with a country,” he said.
A Liberal party spokesperson wouldn’t say whether a Trudeau government will take Saudi Arabia to task over its human rights track record.
And Heinbecker is trying to be realistic about what the new government can achieve.
“I’m a little bit worried that the expectations for this government are sky high and it’s going to be difficult for them to meet everybody’s [expectations].”

Saudi Blogger’s Human Rights Prize May Not Save Him from A Lengthy Sentence


Saudi Arabia is once again in the news for its treatment of dissenters.
This time it’s Raif Badawi, 31, a liberal Saudi activist that questionedreligion and the governmental authorities on his Arabic language blog.
Badawi was arrested in 2012 for a variety of crimes, including apostasy, criticizing government and disobeying his father’s orders. He came to the attention of authorities after starting a website that criticized the Saudi government and the Wahhabist strain of Islam that heavily influences the country’s laws and social norms.
He was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes with a cane in 2013 but the sentence was later increased to 10 years and 1,000 lashes.
His case has become an important cause among human rights activists and Western journalists. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a piece about Badawi last January.
On Thursday, Badawi was back in the spotlight – along with Saudi Arabia’s brutal police and prison regime – after winning the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which honors people and groups that champion human rights and democracy.
“On the case of Mr. Badawi, fundamental rights are not only not being respected, they are being trodden underfoot,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz said Thursday in France.
This was indeed a stick in the eye to Saudi Arabia by Europe’s rambunctious parliament but it’s unlikely to change the minds in Riyadh.
In one way Badawi was lucky. He was found not guilty of apostasy, which carries a death sentence in Saudi Arabia.
Others have not been so lucky. Saudi Arabia has executed 135 people this year, the majority of which for nonviolent drug offences.
Ali al-Nimr, a 17-year old Saudi Shia, was recently arrested and sentenced to crucifixion for his role in a demonstration for greater rights for the Shia minority in the eastern part of the country. Al-Nimr was arrested a year after the 2011 protests and held for nine months before going to trial. It is believed he was tortured during his questioning and was forced to sign a confession. He wasn’t given proper legal representation during his trial, according to Human Rights Watch.
Al-Nimr could be crucified then beheaded any day if Saudi Arabia’s new leader doesn’t step in before it happens. Given the intense international scrutiny, it is hoped that the government will relent.
Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world and, despite signing agreements not to subject minors to the death penalty, it remains defiant over their right to do so.
The country also has no religious freedom and strict limits on freedom of speech, particularly if it is used to criticize religion. Indeed, bad mouthing Islam (other religions are fair game) will likely get you a lengthy prison sentence or beatings – or worse.
Most nations have been loathe to criticize Saudi Arabia because of its strategic oil wealth and its powerful role in the region, particularly among Sunni Muslim nations.
That might be changing given the United States’ decreasing demand for foreign oil, declining prices and a possible détente with Shia Iran among Western nations.
Saudi Arabia needs to change its ways not only to maintain the goodwill of the world when it won’t be needed for its resource wealth but also for the long-term good of its people, and the region’s people.
In a prescient post on his blog in 2010, Badawi wrote:
As soon as a thinker starts to reveal his ideas, you will find hundreds of fatwas that accused him of being an infidel just because he had the courage to discuss some sacred topics. I’m really worried that Arab thinkers will migrate in search of fresh air and to escape the sword of the religious authorities.
Saudi and Arab leaders alike might want to heed his call.

Music Video - RITA ORA - Body on Me ft. Chris Brown

China’s navy commander warns US provocative acts in South China Sea could spark accidental conflicts

By Shen Chen

China's navy Commander Wu Shengli warned his U.Scounterpart there could be“ seriously pressing situation between the front line forces from both sides on the sea and inthe airor even accidental conflitsif the United States continues with its provocative actsin the South China Sea at a video teleconference on Thursday night.
The teleconference between the Chinese Admiral and U.Snavys Chief of NavalOperations Admiral John Richardson was called after the U.Sdestroyer USS Lassenentered waters near Zhubi Reefpart of China's Nansha Islandswithout the permission ofthe Chinese government on Tuesday.
Such dangerous and provocative acts have threatened China's sovereignty and securityand harmed regional peace and stability," Admiral Wu said.
He warned that China will "have to take all necessary measures to safeguard sovereigntyand securityif the United States persists going its own way and ignoring China's concern.
"(Ihope the U.Sside cherishes the good situation between the Chinese and U.Snaviesthat has not come easily and avoids these kinds of incidents from happening again," Wuadded at the teleconference.
The naval chiefs agreed to maintain dialogue and follow protocols to avoid clashes at theteleconferenceThe scheduled port visits by U.Sand Chinese ships and planned visits toChina by senior U.Snavy officers will also remained on trackReuters reported earliertoday.
Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday said in a statement that the ruling rendered onThursday by the Arbitral Tribunal established at the request of the Philippines onjurisdiction and admissibility of the South China Sea arbitration is null and void, and hasno binding effect on China.
Adm. John Richardson, the US Navys Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), and China's navycommander Adm. Wu Shengli are about to speak on Oct. 29 via video teleconference todiscuss the situation in the South China Sea and Sino-U.S. navy relations.
Calling the USS Lassen's intrusion a "regular occurrence," the US military put a gloss onits recent brazen provocation against China in the South China Sea, implying that morewarships might be sent within the 12 nautical mile-limit around China-controlled islands.China will have to escalate its countermeasures if Washington does so, and the situationwill worsen for the US.
The U.S. move was long planned. U.S. media said in May that the U.S. navy wanted tochallenge Chinas construction projects in the South China Sea, and since September theU.S. navy has been laboring its views on South China Sea disputes and claiming to send awarship within 12 nautical miles of China's islands. The U.S. has long caused trouble inSouth China Sea disputes even though it is not one of the parties concerned to the SouthChina Sea issue.

President Obama and First Lady welcome children of military families to the White House for trick or treat

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UN Poisons Syrians With ‘Moldy and Rotten’ Biscuits, Watchdog Says

The United Nations are being blamed for causing widespread food poisoning for nearly 200 Syrians in besieged cities.

“Moldy and rotten” high-energy biscuits were distributed among residents of Madaya and Zabadani in Damascus suburbs on October 20, and this could be the only cause of mass food poisoning, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said in an online statement Friday.
A food aid convoy of some 24 freight vehicles under the auspices of the United Nations delivered the Italian-made biscuits, which expired in September. The aid was accompanied by a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent. The latter was determined to be responsible by the NGO for loading boxes of the expired product from a warehouse “after a lack in the quantity of the edible packages which was supposed to be sent in the relief-aid convoy.”

The United Nations sent foods corrupt trapped in Zabadani biscuit expired We hope to see the world Post

“On 20 October 2015, nearly 200 individuals were rushed to the hospitals,” a man identified only as Dr. Khaled, who treated some of the poisoned patients in Madaya’s makeshift hospital, told SNHR. ‘They presented symptoms of pain in the abdomen, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. We realized that all the poisoning cases were recorded on the day when the biscuits were distributed to the residents in Madaya; as we received almost 700 packages of the energy-biscuits from the humanitarian aid convoy.”

United Nations News Centre - UN and partners deliver critical relief supplies to besieged areas of Syria: 
SNHR appealed to the United Nations, which oversaw the delivery, to investigate the incident and hold accountable those responsible.

The United Nations Must Take Actions regarding Expired Food Aid in Syria 

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Lavrov calls for efforts to prevent terrorists from getting power in Syria

The meeting in Vienna was required to establish accord between countries interested in settling the conflict in Syria, the Russian Foreign Minister says.
Participants in the Syrian settlement talks are committed to do their best to prevent terrorists from taking power in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday after the multilateral talks in Vienna.
"[US Secretary of State] John Kerry said much about the Syrian development, about the suffering of the Syrian people, about how much blood has been shed there and how many people have been driven out of their homes," he said. "We want to stop this situation and prevent terrorists from getting power in the country."
According to Lavrov, the meeting in Vienna was required to establish accord between countries interested in settling the conflict in Syria.
"This meeting was necessary to establish accord between us," he said. "Besides, we do not yet see a representative delegation of the opposition."
In Lavrov's words, participants in the Vienna talks on the Syrian settlement are asking the United Nations to organize a meeting between representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition to launch political process.
"One of the most important agreements reached today is that the participants in the meeting ask the United Nations to organize a meeting between representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition to kick off political process," he told a news conference.
Elections in Syria should be held under control of the United Nations and involve all Syrian citizens, Russian Foreign Minister went on to say.
"We have agreed that elections in Syria are to be held with active participation and control by the United Nations, and that all Syrian citizens, including refugees in neighboring state, should take part in these elections," he said at a news conference.