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Turkey: New Bill Deepens Net Repression Yet Again

By: GREYDOG Monday October 20, 2014 2:54 am

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

Draconian Internet laws in Turkey are deepening yet once again with a new reform package that will bring new measures against freedom of speech in the country. Previously, the government had already tried to silence the masses through censorship measures, surveillance of Netizens, blocking access to Web sites, or even raids on online news portals’ headquarters. The most recent development concerning the laws against online free speech is the most recent bill that provides for up to five years’ imprisonment for tweeps (Twitter users) who criticize the government online.

The signatories of the infamous censorship law – or as the official name refers to it, “5651: Regulation on the Publications on the Internet” – have drafted a new bill and presented it on the parliament floor on the evening of October 14th. The new bill will allow all the possible suspects that have so far been declared “traitors, enemies, coup-plotters” to be put under full surveillance with just an order from a judge. The requirement of “tangible evidence” that has been required by the courts so far is no longer on the books, which allows the judges to give the order upon “reasonable doubt.” The new law also allows the property of the government-critical suspects to be confiscated, if the accusation is “criminal activity” or “organizing a gang.”

What is “criminal”?

What comprises criminal activity in Turkey has long been a problematic issue and the new bill is no different from any previous one. The main excuse in suppressing free speech in the country so far has been “national-security concerns.” Crimes against the state include plans to end the unity and integrity of the state, cooperation with enemies, propagating war against the state, actions against the basic national benefits, conscripting soldiers for a foreign nation, harming military premises and agreements in favor of foreign soldiers, and economical and financial contributions to enemies.

If one is only a little obsessive, any attempt to strengthen the regional governments and the Europeanization process, which requires that, can in fact be declared a crime against the state. And the witch hunt trials that have been going after hundreds of military officers over the years would definitely be a type of harm against the military.

Less urgent crimes that have been cited in the bill include violation of the constitution, crimes against the legislative body, armed uprising against the government, and assembling and organizing for these crimes. Even though armament had been previously mentioned as a crime in another law, this time the new bill seems to reflect more onto the protection of government against all types of possible criticism. And of course the government would be exempt from the crime of violating the constitution when citizens’ basic rights and liberties are being violated, even though those rights are guaranteed under the constitution.

Social media targeted

“Threat” as a crime is considered to be a much greater fault with the new law and will be punishable by a prison sentence. The new bill suggests that the citizens who criticize government harshly on social-media platforms are included within the scope of threat crimes. Under the current laws, threats bring about imprisonment only for crimes that result in two years and more of prison sentence. For that reason, the government has updated the prison sentence to two years minimum. The new bill also includes clauses that state that those who criticize the president, prime minister, ministers, or security forces openly or over social media will be considered guilty of “threats” and face possible arrest. The new bill also targets the prosecutor who conducted the graft probe of 17-25 December last year that revealed the greatest corruption scandal in Turkey’s history.

Not only the Internet but also the streets…

The new bill’s scope is not limited to digital public spaces but also makes opposition movements’ visibility on the streets problematic. The slogans that have been adopted by critical groups during street protests had already drawn many frowning faces so far; with the new bill they will be considered a crime. The new law also breaches the diplomatic immunity of politicians, allowing them to be put on trial as well in case of threats against public officers, soldiers, police, governors etc. The prison sentence will possibly go up to 5 years depending on the intensity of the “criminal activity.”

No right to defense

Moreover, the new bill also attacks the right to a fair hearing and the principle of defense. Lawyers will have harder time accessing their clients’ files in order to defend them fairly. The bill states that lawyers’ involvement in disclosing defendants’ files would breach the investigation and thus should be limited on a judge’s orders.

Reversal of improvement

The draft bill will be reversing the improvements that have been achieved in the last year with regards to legal procedure, and the few positive remarks in the European Union accession progress report are being met with counter-developments that will present a much graver situation in the coming period. Combined with the intentions to arm the police forces with greater authority to “shoot to kill” in times of protests and plans to multiply the number of water cannons five/tenfold as the Prime Minister has stated, the new bill is just another obstacle created against any kind of free speech, right to assembly, right to access information and many other rights and liberties. It seems and feels like the road to illiberal democracy – if it is democracy at all – is being traveled faster than expected.

More stories by Gürkan Özturan

More stories about Turkey @


Culture of the National Security State, an Interview with Deepa Kumar

By: Elliott Sunday October 19, 2014 5:24 pm

This is the last in a series of interviews Deepa Kumar gave the Real News Network, here she tells host Paul Jay “that a culture of fear and obedience has developed so we give consent to Cold War policies, to hot wars, to the complete militarization of society.”

Culture of the National Security State – Deepa Kumar on Reality Asserts Itself

On Deepa Kumar, an Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University, from The Real News Network:

Her work is driven by an active engagement with the key issues that characterize our era–neoliberalism and imperialism. Her first book, Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization and the UPS Strike (University of Illinois Press, 2007), is about the power of collective struggle in effectively challenging the priorities of neoliberalism.

If neoliberal globalization characterizes the economic logic of our age, the “war on terror” has come to define its political logic. Kumar began her research into the politics of empire shortly after the tumultuous events of 9/11.

Her second book titled Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire (Haymarket Books, 2012), looks at how the “Muslim enemy” has historically been mobilized to suit the goals of empire.

The interview opens:

AC Meetup: In Our Hearts & on the Ground: International Solidarity with the Democrats of Rojava

By: Anti-Capitalist Meetup Sunday October 19, 2014 3:03 pm

The most compelling socialist message is how we live our lives. In many places, such as the so-called “free” U.S., repression against socialists often effectively prevents us from coming out of the closet. We know each other by pseudonyms if at all. The credit to our cause for much of our efforts may be lost and actions misunderstood as advancement of one volunteer cause or another, mere do-goodism–not as revolutionary acts intended to promote change from the world neoliberal system that causes unjust conditions to begin with.

Hardly woe is me, however; in Syrian Kurdistan, our sisters and brothers die every day for the crime of living out loving egalitarian solidarity. In truth, woe is “we.” To Islamic State (IS) and its direct enablers in the governments of Turkey and oil-generating Middle East “friends of the U.S.”–making the U.S. in essence the biggest enabler of IS– stateless anarcho-socialism in Rojava is a cause worthy of rape and other torture followed by cruel death.

“We” can come to the aid of the deep democrats of Rojava or watch as our comrades are slaughtered. It is as simple as that.

“We” don’t often get second chances. But we have to be ready. Perhaps once in a great while, we can resurrect our bigger global dreams, move beyond despair to critique honestly “our” mistakes, and then do our best as species-beings. And honor the memory and example of selfless people like Tom Page.

ISIS Isn’t and Imperial Ambitions in the Middle East

By: Synoia Sunday October 19, 2014 2:59 pm

We believe the Salafi’s, the Muslim Fundamentalists wish to reestablish a Caliphate in the Middle East. This also is ISIS’ goal, the goal of the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, and others in the Middle East.

The majority of the world’s Salafis are from Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia. 46.87% of Qataris and 44.8% of Emiratis are Salafis. 5.7% of Bahrainis are Salafis and 2.17% of Kuwaitis are Salafis.

Wahhabism (Arabic: وهابية‎, Wahhābiyyah) or Wahhabi mission (Arabic: ألدعوة ألوهابية‎, al-Da’wa al-Wahhābiyyah ) is a religious movement or sect or form of Islam variously described as “orthodox”, “ultraconservative”, “austere”, “fundamentalist”, “puritanical” (or “puritan”),] describes an Islamic “reform movement” to restore “pure monotheistic worship”, or an “extremist pseudo-Sunni movement”. Adherents often object to the term Wahhabi or Wahhabism as derogatory, and prefer to be called Salafi or muwahhid.

The Salafi movement is thus has Saudi Arabia’s funds available.

We suspect ISIS and the Salafis are as inseparable as the is Tea Party from conservative money, with the same dogmatic attitude, and willingness to roll over anyone who stands in their way.

So let’s introduce some geography into the discussion. Do look at the maps, as they are key to understand the geography, which, coupled with the Saudi Money, and Turkish standing army (500,000) strong, would drive a Caliphate’s strategy.

On the map, pay attention to Turkey in the North, Syria South of Turkey, Iraq and Part of Jordan South of Syria and then Saudi Arabia and the various Gulf States.

Now let’s compare this with a map of the 1913 Ottoman Empire, The last great Muslim empire. Apart for the obvious empty quarter in the middle of Arabia, once can see the 1913 Ottoman Empire’s boundaries a good match for the initial boarders of a new Caliphate.

What about Turkey?

Turkey, although a secular republic since the end of the Ottoman Enpire is undergoing somewhat of a change with an Authoritarian, Radical Muslim-leaning, President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Googling “Erdogan Muslim Leanings” produces a list of web sites, including:


Which would then support the supposition that Erdogan also supports ISIS’ goals.

Erdogan is also on record that Assad of Syria must go. If one is to establish a caliphate, then Syria is a clear candidate for a province of the Caliphate, between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. All that needed to establish a complete land corridor is one piece of Jordan’s desert and one piece of Iraq’s desert. The initial Caliphate could include Anbar province from Iraq, and the piece of Jordanian desert would then not be necessary — At least initially.

ISIS is the sacrificial sword of the Caliphate, and with great reluctance, Turkey and Saudi Arabia would have to act jointly to “bring order” to the region, and sacrifice the radicals (dangerous-to-the-Caliphate radicals) of ISIS.

How to prevent such an outcome? Let’s take a look at a “projected” Kurdistan:

Forming a Kurdistan would scotch some of the Imperial Ambitions. Coupled with a Syria independent of Turkey & Saudi Arabia, the Caliphate would have some very interesting obstacles.

Palmerston: Great Powers have interests, not alliances.

What are the US’ interests?

Sometimes you just gotta take a break from fear of ISIS & Ebola!

By: Jane Stillwater Sunday October 19, 2014 1:26 pm
   Geez Louise!  Here I am living in a wonderful town, on a safe street and with food in the refrigerator.  But all I ever do is worry about poor Syria being invaded by ISIS, America and the Saudis
    Here I am with the best medical care in the world located only six blocks from my home — and I worry about Ebola.  According to John Barry’s fascinating book about the 1919 flu epidemic, “The Great Influenza,” viruses have a nasty habit of evolving in order to be more contagious and thus have a longer shelf-life.  And remember the bird-flu scare and the swine flu scare?  And the fact that Congress has just slashed the CDC’s budget and left us defenseless — now that the very agency that stopped both of those possible epidemics in their tracks is currently operating at half-speed due to budget cuts?  Good grief.
     Here I am, snug as a bug in a rug, but my neighbor just told me that foam mattresses give off fumes that can ruin my life.  So there goes my foam mattress, out to the dumpster.  Rats.  It was really really comfortable too.
    And the Republican party has been telling me since Reagan’s time that I should be afraid — very afraid.  Of what?  You name it.  Undocumented Americans, commie spies, weapons of mass destruction, drug lords, terrorist invasions, I forget what all else.
     So now the only sane thing I can think of doing today is to spend the day hiding under my (mattress-less) bed.  “But, Jane, you can’t do that!  Remember that there might be a bedbug epidemic!”  Oops.  I forgot.

Maybe I should just move to someplace like Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Sierra Leone instead — someplace where it’s safe.

It Came From the Oort Cloud: Comet Siding Spring’s Close Encounter With Mars (Updated)

By: Elliott Sunday October 19, 2014 8:58 am

Observing Comet Siding Spring at Mars

This afternoon newly discovered Comet Siding Spring makes a close fly by Mars. Although NASA had to move all Mars orbiting spacecraft to the lee side to protect them from potential debris in the comet’s wake, Curiosity Rover will be positioned to observe (mastcam) and detect (chemcam). The comet was first observed by astronomer Robert H. McNaught working at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia.

“We’re going to observe an event that happens maybe once every million years. This is an absolutely spectacular event.” -Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division.

Siding Spring, whose core is 0.5 to 5 miles (0.8 to 8 kilometers) wide, probably formed somewhere between Jupiter and Neptune about 4.6 billion years ago — just a few million years after the solar system began coming together.

Many of the objects in the region where the comet was born were incorporated into newly forming planets, but Siding Spring apparently had a close encounter with one of these planets and was booted out into the Oort Cloud, a frigid comet repository at the very outer reaches of the solar system. A million years ago or so, a star passing by the Oort Cloud is thought to have jolted the comet’s orbit again, sending it on its first-ever trip into the inner solar system.

The comet’s history helps explain why scientists are so excited about its current journey: Since Siding Spring has never been “heat-treated” by the sun before, it’s a pristine object that looks much the same today as it did 4.6 billion years ago.

A couple Twitter hashtags to follow as Siding Spring approaches Mars include #MarsComet and #SidingSpring.

Comet Siding Spring: A Close Encounter with Mars

Below is a live feed from the European Space Agency starts around 1:50pm ET, 10:50am PT. Until then it’s broadcasting a replay of a Mars Robotics Programme confab. The comet will be at its very closet to Mars at 2:27pm ET.

Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe – Book Salon Preview

By: Elliott Sunday October 19, 2014 8:45 am

Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe

Chat with Dr. Helen Caldicott about her new book. Hosted by Dave Lochbaum. Today at 5pm ET, 2pm PT.

The world’s leading scientific and medical experts offer the first comprehensive analysis of the long-term health and environmental consequences of the Fukushima nuclear accident

“The clock cannot be turned back. We live in a contaminated world.”
—Hiroaki Koide, Kyoto University

On the second anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, an international panel of leading medical and biological scientists, nuclear engineers, and policy experts assembled at the prestigious New York Academy of Medicine. A project of the Helen Caldicott Foundation and co-sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility, this gathering was a response to widespread concerns that the media and policy makers had been far too eager to move past what are clearly deep and lasting impacts for the Japanese people and for the world. This was the first comprehensive attempt to address the health and environmental damage done by one of the worst nuclear accidents of our times.

The only document of its kind, Crisis Without End represents an unprecedented look into the profound aftereffects of Fukushima. In accessible terms, leading experts from Japan, the United States, Russia, and other nations weigh in on the current state of knowledge of radiation-related health risks in Japan, impacts on the world’s oceans, the question of low-dosage radiation risks, crucial comparisons with Chernobyl, health and environmental impacts on the United States (including on food and newborns), and the unavoidable implications for the U.S. nuclear energy industry.

Crisis Without End is both essential reading and a major corrective to the public record on Fukushima.

Dr. Helen Caldicott, Winner, Nuclear-Free Future Lifetime Achievement Award

The world’s leading spokesperson for the antinuclear movement, Dr. Helen Caldicott is the co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the 2003 winner of the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom. Both the Smithsonian Institute and Ladies’ Home Journal have named her one of the Most Influential Women of the Twentieth Century. In 2001 she founded the Nuclear Policy Research Institute, which later became Beyond Nuclear, in Washington, D.C. The author of The New Nuclear Danger, War in Heaven (with Craig Eisendrath), Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer, and Loving This Planet and the editor of Crisis Without End (all published by The New Press), she is currently president of the Helen Caldicott Foundation/ She divides her time between Australia and the United States.  (The New Press)