The Turkey scandal

There’s so much attention on Russia that you might not have noticed that something’s going on with Turkey:

Supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, including his government security forces and several armed individuals, violently charged a group of protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence here on Tuesday night in what the police characterized as “a brutal attack.”

The episode was not the first time that Turkish security forces have ignited violence in the American capital. The police and members of Mr. Erdogan’s security team clashed with demonstrators last year outside the Brookings Institution, where Mr. Erdogan was giving a speech. Brookings wrote on its website that his bodyguards had “behaved unacceptably — they roughed up protesters outside the building and tried to drag away ‘undesired’ journalists, an approach typical of the Russians or Chinese.”

It seems that Turkey doesn’t know about this thing called Freedom of Speech:

Video of the incident shows protesters being attacked in what appeared to be three waves as D.C. police officers struggled to regain control. The Anadolu news agency framed the guards’ actions as a response to the presence of ‘‘terrorist’’ sympathizers – apparently a reference to Kurdish activists.

The news agency criticized U.S. police for failing to end the dissent; such protests are largely put down in Turkey.

And, as with much of what happens now, there is a scandalous Trump connection:

The investigation stems from the work Flynn did for Inovo BV, a Dutch company owned by Alptekin, the Turkish businessman. On Aug. 9, Flynn and the Flynn Intel Group signed a contract with Inovo for $600,000 over 90 days to run an influence campaign aimed at discrediting Fethullah Gulen, an reclusive cleric who lives in Pennsylvania and whom Erdogan has accused of orchestrating a failed coup in Turkey last summer.

When he was hired by Alptekin, Flynn did not register as a foreign agent, as required by law when an American represents the interests of a foreign government. Only in March did he file a retroactive registration with the Justice Department because his lawyer, Robert K. Kelner, said that “the engagement could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.”

Trump campaign officials first became aware of a problem with Flynn’s business dealings in early November. On Nov. 8, the day of the election, Flynn wrote an op-ed in The Hill that advocated improved relations between Turkey and the United States and called Gulen “a shady Islamic mullah.”

“If he were in reality a moderate, he would not be in exile, nor would he excite the animus of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government,” the op-ed said.

And wait there’s more:

According to the report, Flynn declined a request from the Obama administration to approve an operation in the IS stronghold of Raqqa, effectively delaying the military operation. His reasoning wasn’t reported, but Turkey has long opposed U.S. military operations in cooperation with Kurdish forces.

President Erdogan isn’t known as a friend to human rights:

We should expect no substantial discussion of the 150 journalists detained in Turkey on misleading or bogus charges, or the elected politicians from peaceful pro-Kurdish parties who remain behind bars. Also unlikely to be on the agenda: The fate of the 50,000 people swept up on overly broad terrorism charges, or even the more than 100,000 civil servants permanently dismissed with no right of appeal.

This means that Trump likes Erdogan, as he seems to like many dictator-types:

US President Donald Trump’s affinity for authoritarian leaders across the globe has been one of the few constants during his chaotic first few months in office.

From Russian President Vladimir Putin to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Trump has gone out of his way to lavish praise on some of the world’s most notorious strongmen.
As always, Trump makes me proud to be an American.

Banned Book Week

I’m one of many, I hope, who mention that this is Banned Book Week. How does one celebrate? Why reading a book that people want to ban:

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence
3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons:  Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
Reasons:  Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

7) “TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons:  Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons:  Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons:  Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

My favorite on the list is Huck Finn. Here’s a book that shows a person (Huck) who is throwing off his racism and explains how stupid racism is and people say it’s racist. Read the book people–of course there’s racist language, the point is that Huck starts off as a racist but changes his ways as he gets to know the slave Jim.

Mostly Bad News

  • The first, most general, bit is that the Freedom House is reporting that the world is less free now than it was a year ago:

“This year’s results show a profoundly disturbing deterioration of freedom worldwide,” said Arch Puddington, director of research at Freedom House. “A number of countries that had previously shown progress toward democracy  have regressed, while none of the most influential Not Free states showed signs of improvement. As the second consecutive year that the survey has registered a global decline in political rights and civil liberties, friends of freedom worldwide have real cause for concern.” 

While the profile of world freedom as measured by the number of countries designated in Freedom in the World as Free, Partly Free, or Not Free changed little during the past year, there were many negative changes within these broad categories. In all, nearly four times as many countries showed declines during the year as registered improvement. 

  • Pakistan had one of its forts (run by militias, not the Pakistan military) overrun by Islamic militants:

Hundreds of Islamic militants attacked a paramilitary fort in Sararogha in the restive South Waziristan tribal region in north-west Pakistan on Tuesday, killing 22 soldiers and taking several others hostage in a nearly six-hour-long battle, government intelligence agency officials and local officials said Wednesday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the attack, said that 600 to 700 militants attacked the Sararogha fort firing rockets and mortars in a region where local and foreign militants have battled the Pakistani military.

Wow, that’s a pretty big attack. There’s a bit more here–I like this quote:

“Around midnight 400 miscreants attacked the Frontier Corps at Sararogha. The fort was captured by militants, we are taking stock of the situation,” chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP.

“There are reports of 40 to 50 dead miscreants, while seven personnel embraced martyrdom.”

Now me, I think of a miscreants as people who do mischief not a group of hundreds who attack and take a fort using rockets, mortars, and automatic weapons. I guess Pakistan has a different definition of miscreant.

  • Sri Lanka has been tense or in a civil war for decades and the civil war seems to be back on:

A roadside bomb ripped through a Sri Lankan bus killing 26 people and wounding dozens on Wednesday, officials said, as a six-year ceasefire between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels officially expired.

There was hope that there might be reconciliation after the Tsunami, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

  • The news is a bit better in Nepal where they have gotten rid of the monarchy and will have an election in April. There are some problems, violence is increasing and the vote has already been delayed twice, but it is better than it was during the Maoist insurgency. I like the reason (well, ok ‘like’ isn’t really the right word), the people turned against the monarchy:

Disenchantment with the king began in 2001, when crown prince Dipendra shot dead 10 members of the royal family, including his parents, before killing himself. His uncle Gyanendra inherited the crown.

Something like that would disenchant me also.

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