20 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective



It was a coup we did, not a French revolution


The statement belongs to prominent historian Professor Ilber Ortayli. “There has been a coup in Turkey. We did not do a French revolution.”

He finished his program on TV the other day with this fabulous sentence.

What happened was a coup that shot at its own citizens, bombed its own country and destroyed the reputation of the nation and all of us.

This was a disaster that took us back 50 years backwards.

Our army is in shambles, our intelligence service is gone, our police is in a state such that it cannot protect the security headquarters. Don’t even talk about justice.

Everyone has become an informant.

Not everything is in order within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

There is no difference between the guilty and innocent. Our economy is suffering from a slow-motion blow.
We can’t explain the gravity of what we experienced even to our best friends.

Let’s not pretend to have achieved something like a French Revolution.

Instead, let’s ask this question: Where did we go wrong so that we faced this tremendous disaster?

If we can make a healthy and rational analysis of this failure and start restructuring the country all together, then we can earn the right to live the joy of a French Revolution.

Who is next in line among mayors

I had already mentioned Ahmet Takan who is writing for daily Yeniça?.

He had written that three mayors were being targeted for their implications with the Fetullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ).

One of the names was revealed the other day; the son-in-law of Kadir Topba?, the mayor of Istanbul, was taken into custody.

I received several calls telling me the names of the two others.

Everyone is in agreement with one of them.

There are two names circulating for the third one.

We will continue to follow Ahmet Takan, who was for a while the press advisor of former President Abdullah Gül.

Smear campaign

I read a news article the other day about a suspected member of FETÖ. It was reported that in the search conducted in his house in Eski?ehir, a computer was found.

Guess what they found on the computer.

Porn movies. The person is suspected of being one of the imams of the brotherhood.

I was expecting this kind of news. This is a known pattern. When police investigations get out of hand, expect the introduction of sex content. But we also know that in these types of legal cases, the efforts to humiliate and the smear campaigns are counter-productive.

The first aim should be to fight the hate for Erdogan

The first way to break the influence of Fethullah Gülen in the world is to struggle with the “Erdogan hostility” that has become clear both in the East and the West.

The way to do that is to create a strong “democratic homeland” inside to fight the diaspora outside.

That’s why let’s avoid destroying this positive climate that will keep together those who have stayed in the country for the sake of the lust for rhetorical flourishes.

Let’s not forget that Fethullah Gülen has instructed his followers to flee the country to form a diaspora abroad. This diaspora will be formed of a group who has a strong intellectual background. This diaspora has a very strong communication network that it has established via its schools.

That’s why we need to be wiser inside.



85,000-member security force holds poor communities in state of semi-siege not ‘to protect us, but to segregate us’ from Olympic visitors, neighbours say

A woman walks past an armed police patrol in Rio de Janeiro’s Rochina favela community.

A woman walks past an armed police patrol in Rio de Janeiro’s Rochina favela community. Photograph: Barbara Walton/EPA

While much of the world’s media has focused on US swimmer Ryan Lochte’s fabricated account of an armed robbery, the real victims of Olympic crime in Rio de Janeiro are the city’s poorest residents, caught on the frontline of conflict between the authorities and drug traffickers.

Since the start of the Olympics, local media have reported at least 14 deaths in shootouts between gang members and police or soldiers from the 85,000-member security force deployed for the Games.

While such high levels of violence have long been a fact of life in favela communities, many residents feel the situation has been made worse by the high-profile mega-event that has focused police on protecting rich foreign visitors and targeting poor local residents.

Certainly, the heightened tension of the Games has led to at least one fatal mistake with devastating repercussions.

Helio Andrade, a state trooper from the distant state of Roraima, was shot dead on 12 August after he mistakenly drove into Vila de João, a gang-controlled neighbourhood in the Complexo do Maré favela. As a soldier on Olympic duty, his death was cause for interim president Michel Temer to declare national mourning and for flags outside the Games venues to fly at half-mast.

As is often the case in Rio, it also prompted the police to launch an extensive and punitive hunt for the killers. At least five residents of Maré were killed in the operations, though the suspects have yet to be apprehended. Images of the area in the local media show that it came under a state of semi-siege, with police helicopters flying overhead and homes raided by heavily armed military police……..

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Details emerge from ‘black ledger’ detailing alleged secret payments from former ruling party to US, including to Trump strategist Paul Manafort

Larry King, on the set of his show on Russia Today.

Larry King on the set of his show on Russia Today. Serhiy Leshchenko says: ‘Money from the Party of Regions’ shadow assets was paid to Larry King.’ Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

The TV host Larry King accepted $225,000 (£173,000) to interview Ukraine’s pro-Russian prime minister, according to a politician investigating a “black ledger” detailing alleged secret payments to the US from Ukraine’s former ruling party.

King flew to Kiev in November 2011 to interview Ukraine’s then prime minister Mykola Azarov. Azarov was a key figure in the government of President Viktor Yanukovych, whom Ukrainian prosecutors accuse of massive corruption.

Weeks before the interview Yanukovych had jailed his main political opponent Yulia Tymoshenko. After the interview King lavished praise on Azarov, describing him in flattering terms as a “straightforward and honest person with a deep knowledge of world affairs”.

Speaking to journalists in Kiev at the time, King said: “After the interview I told my wife that he [Azarov] would have been a successful US politician. As for who he reminded me, he’s a bit like Jimmy Carter. He looks good, and it’s easy to meet with him.”

During the encounter King asked Azarov a series of softball questions, including: “What do you like most about your job?”, “Why are you interested in politics?” and “How’s your health?” He mentioned Tymoshenko just once, asking Azarov: “Do you have any sympathy for her?” The latter replied: “Of course.”

On Friday Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian MP and investigative journalist, presented fresh details from a “black ledger” belonging to Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. It includes records of $12.7m in payments allegedly designated for Paul Manafort, then Yanukovych’s chief consultant and election strategist and who on Friday resigned as Donald Trump’s campaign manager……….

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The Justice Department’s plan only affects about a quarter of those held in private US facilities and does not apply to DHS immigration detention centers

barack obama prison tour

Barack Obama speaks as he tours the El Reno federal correctional institute in Oklahoma. The Obama administration has recently taken on prison and criminal justice reform issues. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The Department of Justice announced Thursday that it would begin “phasing out” the use of private prisons for federal prisoners citing superior safety and rehabilitation outcomes at state-run facilities. Deputy attorney general Sally Yates wrote that private prisons “simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources”, “do not save substantially on costs”, and “do not maintain the same level of safety and security” as the department’s own sites.

The move has been widely hailed by advocates as one that could signal positive change for about 22,000 federal inmates across 13 facilities, but many have also paused to note that the Justice Department decision only affects about a quarter of inmates and detainees held in US private facilities.

“While the Justice Department’s announcement is a step in the right direction, much more action is needed to scrub private prisons from our criminal justice system,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, an online racial justice organization.

The decision, for example, does not apply to people held in Department of Homeland Security detention centers for immigration violations, which tally at about 34,000 on any given day, and about 400,000 over the course of a year. About 60% of those detainees are held in private facilities. By comparison, private prisons currently hold about 15% of federal prisoners and 6% of those in state corrections.

“Refugees, children, parents and everyday people seeking a better life are routinely locked up, abused and even killed by corporate-run immigrant detention facilities and despite the evidence, the Department of Homeland Security refuses to shut them down,” said Greisa Martinez, advocacy director for United We Dream Action, an immigrant rights activist organization. She added that today’s decision is “yet more evidence of why Hillary Clinton must commit to use executive authority to provide relief to immigrants in her first 100 days, should she become president”………

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US politics

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If a common sense proposal for federal agencies to consider climate change in their decisions on the environment is shot down, what hope is there?


‘Pretending that climate change isn’t real was politically expedient in the past.’ Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

If we needed a reminder of the importance of taking climate change seriously, the floods in Louisiana are providing a big one on a daily basis. When it comes to the big environmental issues, our country’s polarization is historically unusual, and it’s already gone way too far. That’s why the latest fight to break out in Washington over climate issues needs more attention.

On 1 August, the White House Council on Environmental Quality issued a non-binding suggestion, formally known as “guidance”, to federal agencies to think about climate change when making decisions under a law called the National Environmental Policy Act (Nepa). What should have produced a shrug (or, hopefully, a cheer) caused a panic on the right that’s only getting louder.

Under Nepa, federal agencies have to account for the environmental impacts of taking major actions such as approving a mine permit, constructing or removing a dam or allowing a road near a protected habitat. These decisions are made by trained scientists and public servants with years of expertise and involve an unparalleled level of public input. By and large, they are among the most rigorously footnoted and well-supported decisions the federal government makes, and Nepa is one of the best vehicles the public has to express concerns about federal impacts on homes and communities.

The recent guidance suggests that federal agencies account for climate change in the Nepa process. If an agency were to follow the guidance in assessing the impacts of a new coal mine, for example, both the climate impacts of the mining operation itself and the climate impacts of burning the coal from the mine would be factored into the final Nepa analysis.

If this strikes you less as an outrage and more as common sense, you’re not alone. But you won’t find many Washington Republicans agreeing with you. The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rob Bishop, a Republican congressman from Utah, said of the document: “You can kiss energy independence goodbye.” Republican senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the leading climate denier in Washington, issued a statement refusing to accept the guidance’s validity, claiming in part: “[G]lobal climate change falls outside of the scope of Nepa so the guidance has no legal basis.” They were not alone….

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