US women not voting for Hillary Clinton to burn in Hell

Criticism of Turkey’s government in United States media often begin with the words ‘Turkey’s Islamic-rooted government . . .’

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78 year-old religious nut appeals to young women of America

So what are we to make of the report that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, speaking at a rally in support of Hillary Clinton’s nomination, threatened young American women with the fires of Hell if they failed to support that woman’s candidacy for President? Ms Albright’s actual words, apparently, were ‘Just remember, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.’

Frankly, I don’t care personally who becomes President of the USA in November this year – although I wouldn’t be surprised if God decided to punish them for their Godless hypocrisy by giving them Mrs Clinton or Donald Trump.

What I find especially outrageous here, however, is a top-level Democrat invoking fundamentalist Christian theology for political purposes. Though I shouldn’t really be surprised. They all do it.

It is possible that some grass-roots AK Party supporters in Turkey have similar beliefs about what will happen to citizens who don’t support their hero Tayyip Erdoğan – but the difference is, you would never hear a cabinet minister or senior politician express such a view.

Still, Ms Albright possibly has better credentials than I do for knowing the mind of the Almighty. Her parents were originally Jews who fled Czechoslovakia in 1938 to escape Nazi persecution, converting to Roman Catholicism in 1941, perhaps disappointed that Jehovah hadn’t provided better protection. Madeleine herself subsequently transferred her loyalties to the Episcopalian church (the US version of the Church of England), again, possibly because of Papal ambivalence to the plight of European Jews. I guess you have to admire her persistence in searching for spiritual truth – but her certainty about hellfire and damnation might suggest her real sympathies lie closer to the Southern Baptists.

Left-leaning Democrats may be a little uncomfortable with Ms Albright’s financial portfolio. Wikipedia reports that she ‘is a co-investor with Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild and George Soros, in a $350 million investment vehicle called Helios Towers Africa, which intends to buy or build thousands of mobile phone towers in Africa.’ They might also remember that she is on record as having expressed a total lack of sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children who died as a result of US bombing and economic sanctions.

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God save America – but I suspect He’s tired of trying

So anyway, we shouldn’t be surprised by her support for Mrs Clinton, the only First Lady to have been subpoenaed to testify before a Federal Grand Jury, during an investigation into her and Bill’s shady financial dealings. As a Senator, Hillary also supported US military action in Afghanistan in 2001, and voted in favour of George Dubya’s Iraq invasion in 2002. Demonstrating her political versatility, and probably her true political colours, she also supported the $700 billion bailout of US banks after the 2008 financial crisis.

The investigation into Madame Hillary’s use of personal email accounts when conducting official business while serving as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State is continuing – and probably it will find there is no proof that the good lady had any bad intentions.

But God is watching you, Mrs Clinton – and I really think Jesus may leave you behind when He raptures the rest of us.

The Grass is Always Greener

I get a little tired of hearing middle class Turks complaining about democracy in their country – and reading all the negative stuff published in international media. I came across this little piece in The Guardian over the weekend.

Well, you could argue, I suppose, that the Italian justice system obviates the need for wife-beating . . . but I dunno . . . .

ITALY BERLUSCONI'S WIFE

 

‘An Italian woman could face up to six years in jail after her husband accused her of not doing enough cooking and cleaning.

‘Her husband made a complaint to the paramilitary Carabinieri police, saying his wife was slovenly, failed to put meals on the table and left their home in a dreadful mess.

‘Judicial authorities sent the matter to trial. The 42-year-old wife faces 
up to six years in prison if found guilty of “mistreatment within the


family”. The crime, article 572 in the Italian penal code, “punishes whoever mistreats a person in their family or a person entrusted to them for education, care or custody”.’

New Zealand police door knock ‘known activists’ ahead of TPP protests

I’ve just got back from my annual trip Downunder, visiting family in New Zealand and Australia. I can tell you I’m proud of the country of my birth. I can’t think of another country in the world I would rather have grown up in. At the same time, I’m equally sure that I wouldn’t be happy living in New Zealand now.

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So who’s the Big Brother in this partnership?

I know there’s no perfect country. Everywhere has its plusses and minuses, Turkey as much as anywhere else – but at least here I can view the situation with a certain objective detachment. Back in New Zealand, there were times when I just wanted to cry, seeing what they were doing to my beautiful homeland.

Turkey’s government has come in for a good deal of stick in the international media over its treatment of dissenters – and I’m sure its political opponents have some valid points to make about curtailment of their inalienable rights to criticize with impunity. Nevertheless, at least they have to actually do something before their government unleashes its law enforcement officers to blast them with water cannon or incapacitate them with pepper spray.

In New Zealand, on the contrary, it seems that the government these days prefers pre-emptive action, that is, getting to potential protesters before they have actually got around to doing anything at all.

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That’s a fair question

I’ve been hearing about TPP for some time now, and I can tell you the initials stand for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an innocuous-sounding agreement involving twelve Pacific rim countries focusing on productivity and economic growth. The problem seems to be that negotiations at inter-governmental level have taken place amid great secrecy, but there have been disquieting leaks suggesting that, for instance, multi-national corporations will be empowered to sue national governments for infringing their lawful right to make obscene profits without let or hindrance.

Naturally there are some citizens in New Zealand holding reservations about the desirability of such measures, who wish to exercise their democratic right to protest and generate pubic debate before the agreement is signed into binding law. And an article published in The New Zealand Herald on January 28 informed me that police have been knocking on the doors of ‘known activists’ days ahead of the planned protests in what can only be seen as a concerted move to intimidate and deter those citizens from exercising that right:

“Police are checking in on “known activists” around the country ahead of TPP protests later this week.

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Clearly not everyone feels it’s a good idea

Scout Barbour-Evans, a Dunedin transgender activist who goes by the gender-neutral pronoun “they”, said an officer knocked on their door about 10 this morning. The officer wanted to know what the plans were for anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership action in Dunedin, Scout said.

Scout compared the situation to the Springbok tour, saying the increased
 surveillance feels akin to 1981, particularly following the presence of armed police at Prime Minister John Key’s State of the Nation speech in Auckland yesterday.

Prominent anti-TPP protestor Professor Jane Kelsey said such monitoring of critics to the controversial agreement was “entirely predictable” behaviour from the Government, and shows the “disrespect the Government has had throughout to people’s right to voice their dissent about this negotiation and this agreement”.

“This is perfectly consistent with their attempts to shut down democratic engagement with, almost anything, but certainly with the TPPA.”

France’s Highest Court Upholds Law Criminalizing Holocaust Denial

Well, I didn’t see it reported elsewhere – and a quick Google search didn’t turn up many other results, so I’m grateful to the Turkish Coalition of America for drawing it to my attention.

Given that France is one of the countries most supportive of Armenian genocide claims, it is surely significant that their courts are making a clear distinction between the proven extermination programme implemented by Nazi Germany during the Second World War, and the actions of the Imperial Ottoman government around the turn of the 20th century.

It’s also interesting to see the lengths to which Armenian groups will go to achieve their purpose:

“The French Constitutional Council, France’s Highest Court, has upheld the Gayssot Act, a law criminalizing Holocaust denial, rejecting claims that Holocaust denial should be protected free speech. Allying themselves with a known Holocaust denier, French Armenian groups had joined a challenge to the law, maintaining that since the French Court had previously ruled that questioning the Armenian allegation of genocide was a proper exercise of free speech, so should be questioning the Holocaust. In the alternative, the Armenian groups argued that the Holocaust and the alleged Armenian genocide were historical equivalents and, therefore, that denial of both ought to be criminalized.

“The French Constitutional Council disagreed with the Armenian groups on both counts. The Court emphasized that since the international law had established the Holocaust as a genocide, its denial can be punished. This is in stark contrast to the Armenian allegation, which has never been upheld by a court. The Court enunciated a sensible rule: that an event cannot be considered a genocide unless it is established as such by a court of law and that parliaments or governments cannot declare an event a genocide. This is in keeping with the United Nations Genocide Convention, which renders all accusations of genocide subject to a thorough trial of the evidence before a neutral judicial body.”

US democracy trumps all as a dysfunctional disgrace

I’m always happy to find someone who agrees with me . . . especially if that someone has serious academic credentials. In this case, the writer, Mark Triffitt, is a lecturer on public policy at the University of Melbourne.

Jan 13, 2016

“As the rest of the world looks upon America’s 2016 presidential race and what has become a disgrace of a democratic system, its bewilderment can be organised around a series of hows and whys.

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Him?

“How can a political and policy freak show like Donald Trump become a serious contender for the job America touts as “leader of the free world”?

“Why has the democratic “competition of ideas” become so degraded that Trump’s thought bubble to ban more than 20 per cent of the world’s population (Muslims) from entering America has passed relatively unimpeded into mainstream policy debate?

“More broadly, how can the race for America’s top job be so short on facts and logic that nearly every leading 2016 presidential candidate is uttering outright lies, mostly false statements or half-truths at least half the time they open their mouths?

“Why will it take nearly US$2 billion in campaign funding to win this year’s presidential race and lead a country founded on the idea that “anyone can become president”?

“Why, in this day and age, has the top job devolved into a dynastic possession? If Hillary Clinton becomes president in 2016, two families (Bush and Clinton) will have alternated in the White House for 24 of the 32 years from 1989 to 2021.

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Or her? Now there’s a choice for you!

“How and why can the US government spy on its own citizens with a scope and intensity that make the KGB and other former communist spy agencies look like rank amateurs?

“Questions such as these go on and on. Separately and collectively, they speak to the absence of the bare bones of a fair, free and moderate democratic system.

“Many Americans – thanks to the media’s relentless coverage of Washington politics – view the value of their broader democratic system through a national lens. As a result of congressional gridlock and a string of high-level corruption and ethical scandals, they are turning off and away from the system wholesale.

“The proportion of US citizens who trust government is down to less than one in five.

“The big irony in the massive decline in the quality of America’s democratic governance over the past two decades is this: it has coincided with a period in which the US has aggressively stepped up its efforts to promote and embed this same system around the world.

“US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as America’s support for the Arab Spring of 2011 have been predicated on replacing autocratic regimes with American-style representative democracy. Jawboning China to adopt more democratic practices likewise reflects the same bizarre tendency among many of America’s political and policy elites to promote what are damaged goods at home as being somehow ‘ripe for export’.”

Read the whole article

It’s a Needy World – Let’s try to get along

Turks have a saying that when you learn a second language, you become a new person – and I can confirm that living in Turkey and learning the language has given me an alternative way of viewing the world.

Turkish?

Is that really a word?

I am constantly having to explain to my students at the university that many of the things they want to say in English are unfortunately untranslatable from their native language. Take for example, the phrases that roll comfortably off a Turk’s tongue to grease the wheels of everyday social intercourse: the phrases you utter when sitting down for a meal, or rising from the table; or when someone else is picking up the tab, or when someone else has done the cooking; the words you address to someone emerging from the shower, or the hairdresser’s salon; the sympathetic phrase directed to people who are working when you arrive on the scene, and a host of other everyday situations that require creative inspiration from a native English-speaker, or an a-social silence.

And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. I am reminded of words I wrote in my first post when I began this blog six years ago:

Historical events, dates and personages are one aspect of the construct of the world that we all carry with us. But there is another, less overt, perhaps more powerful force shaping our judgments of other peoples and races: the proverbial wisdom, folk knowledge and cultural assumptions that we inhale with the air of the society in which we grow up and receive our education. So Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun have such a basic existence in the consciousness of Western minds that no knowledge of history is necessary to conjure up images of marauding barbaric hordes sweeping out of the Asian steppe, laying waste all in their path like an invasion of killer bees.

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Stereotyping Turks – It’s got a long history in the west

“When I learned that the principal of my school, a tall, distinguished-looking gentleman of scholarly bearing was called Genghis, it required in me a shift of mental gears. Hearing also that Attila was the name of that polite, hand-raising, homework-doing young lad in my year 9 class was a further surprise for which my Euro-centric upbringing had not prepared me.”

Whose interests does it really serve to keep these racial and ethnic stereotypes alive? The government of Turkey has taken a good deal of stick in the media at home and abroad recently because one of their pilots shot down a Russian military aircraft. Of course it’s not a nice thing to do to a neighbour, and some are calling it a gratuitous act of aggression – which is absolute nonsense, even if it were possible for any act to be truly gratuitous. I am as sure as I can be that the government of Turkey has no desire to start a war with Russia – or anyone else for that matter. I am equally certain they wouldn’t have taken out that Russian plane without getting the go-ahead from Uncle Sam.

Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, had this to say on the subject of war:

“[It] can only be just or justified if it is fought out of sheer necessity or for reasons of national defence, or pursued by a people awaiting their sovereignty, their very lives depending on it.” And the nation he founded has done a pretty good job of following that creed in the 92 years of its existence.

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Who’s really responsible for the mess we’re in?

The United States government makes use of a military base, Incirlik, in the south east of Turkey. George Dubya Bush was desperate to use it in his 2003 invasion of Iraq, and to have the active participation of Turkish troops. After his initial talk of a ‘crusade’, he quickly realized the whole nasty business would look a lot better if a Muslim country was involved in the ‘Coalition of the Willing’. Unfortunately for him, the Turks didn’t cooperate – and I’m prepared to bet there are a few others who now wish they hadn’t been so willing.

In fact, when the current AK Party government came to power in 2002, they pursued a foreign policy they were describing as ‘Zero Problems with Neighbours’ – for which they were roundly mocked and criticized in certain circles. Unfortunately Turkey has now been dragged into the chaos embroiling several countries on their south-eastern border, particularly Iraq and Syria. While attempting to do their NATO duty and assist their Western allies in the struggle against ISIS/Daesh, Turkey’s leaders are also obliged to look after their own country’s interests. In this case that means conducting operations against Kurdish separatists taking advantage of the chaos to further their own cause. Again, certain sections of the international media are slagging off Turkey for this.

Well, I’m not going to delve into the question of what American forces are actually doing in this part of the world; nor to inquire what right Vladimir Putin’s Russia has to be carrying out bombing raids in Syria right next to Turkey’s border; nor to speculate on why the supposedly radical Islamic ISIS/Daesh people have so far avoided acts of violence against Israel.

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Turkey is a democracy. Those guys were elected to govern the country. What business is it of yours?

What I do want to focus on here is my curiosity about why, given that very little of the chaos in the Middle East region is of their making, Turkey seems to have become the target of just about everyone’s criticism. Many of the critics claim they actually love Turkey and Turkish people – it’s just their president, Tayyip Erdoğan they don’t like. The talk is starting to centre on the need to get rid of him. ‘He’s got to go’, I keep reading.

I came across an article online the other day headlined Turkey needs Israel, says Erdogan’. It sounded as though the president may have been regretting his haste in condemning Israel for its aggression against Palestinians, and was crawling back on his knees. Read a little way into the article however, and you find what Erdoğan actually said was that the two countries need each other. Turkey, and before them, the Ottoman Empire have a long history of friendship towards the Jewish people. Turkey was one of the first countries to officially recognize the new state of Israel, an act which assuredly put them offside with their Middle Eastern Muslim neighbours. Whatever rabble-rousers are saying about Turkey, it remains the only genuinely democratic, secular state in the region, despite its 99 per cent Muslim demographic.

Turkey needs Israel and Israel needs Turkey. The USA needs Turkey – which is why US administrations are careful not to upset their only reliable Muslim ally. Europe needs Turkey also – and it goes without saying that Turkey wants to be recognised by the USA and the EU as a modern, secular, democratic, progressive nation.

Another news item I chanced upon the other day bore the headline Russians Find Favored Holiday Destinations Suddenly Off Limits’. I’m sure Russia must be a lovely country, and no doubt its people are proud to live there – but the climate must get them down sometimes. In recent years Russians have been flocking to holiday resorts on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, and others on the Red Sea in Egypt, and who can blame them?

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Another side of Turkishness we shouldn’t lose sight of

Now, all that’s off limits. The ISIS/Daesh people brought down a Russian airliner full of holidaymakers returning from Egypt; and Turkey’s air force shot down a Russian bomber invading its airspace – so the poor Russians have to stay home, or find somewhere else to go for the summer. Well, for sure it’s a dangerous part of the world to be flying over these days, and I can see why you might think a flight to the Red Sea too much of a risk.

I have to say, though, there’s a big difference between a passenger plane carrying tourists and a military aircraft on a bombing mission, especially when it’s a long way from home. The simple facts are that life will be a lot more pleasant for many Russians if they can spend a few summer weeks in Antalya or Alanya on Turkey’s southern coast, and make shopping expeditions to the retail and wholesale commercial paradise of Istanbul. Turkey, for its part, paradise though it be, is energy-poor, unlike its neighbours to the east. 75 million Turks are happy to heat their homes with Russian natural gas, and the income is undoubtedly a welcome boost for the Russian economy.

What’s my point, you’re asking? Simply this: planet Earth is an increasingly shrinking ecosystem. There’s nowhere else to go. We all need each other if we’re going to survive into the 22nd century, and the sooner we figure out how to get along, the better it’s going to be for all of us.

Final tally: Police shot and killed 986 people in 2015

No, not in Turkey, as a matter of fact – but in the United States of America. I can’t tell you how many were shot and killed by police in Turkey in the same time period. On a comparative population basis, the number would have to be 232 to equal the US figure, but I don’t think the Turkish boys got anywhere near that.

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Demonstration in Milwaukee

I also can’t tell you how many journalists are in prison in the United States. Probably not so many, given that corporate America pretty much has the mainstream media in its pocket. A more interesting figure might be how many whistle-blowers have suffered imprisonment or other persecution – but I couldn’t find statistics for that one.

Anyway, this report is sourced from The Washington Post:

“On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, Las Vegas police officers cornered Keith Childress Jr., who was wanted for a number of violent felonies. They opened fire on the black 23-year-old after he refused to drop the object in his hands, which turned out not to be a gun but a cellphone. 

“And with that, the nation logged what was probably its final police shooting death of 2015, a year in which 986 such killings occurred, well more than double the average number reported annually by the FBI over the past decade.

July 2015

Up to July 2015 

“The shooting is the final one to be counted as part of The Washington Post’s year-long project tracking on-duty police killings by firearm, an issue that has taken on new urgency after a number of high-profile killings of unarmed African American men. The Post sought to document every shooting death at the hands of police in 2015, and it revealed troubling patterns in the circumstances that led to such shootings and the characteristics of the victims.

“The project will continue this year. Federal officials have announced plans to improve their data collection, but the new initiative will not be in place until 2017. Already, The Post has tallied 11 fatal police shootings in 2016.

“Over the past year, The Post found that the vast majority of those shot and killed by police were armed and half of them were white. Still, police killed blacks at three times the rate of whites when adjusted for the populations where these shootings occurred. And although black men represent 6 percent of the U.S. population, they made up nearly 40 percent of those who were killed while unarmed.”