Kofi Annan – “a guiding force for good”

World mourns loss of Kofi Annan

There was an outpouring of condolences from leaders around the world on Saturday after the death of former United Nations Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate KofiAnnan. 

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Aug. 18 extended condolences on the death of Kofi Annan.      

The ministry in a statement said Kofi Annan was a distinguished diplomat, who contributed a lot to world peace and received a Nobel Peace Prize.   

He was also commemorated for his strong effort and plan during his time in 2004 on the Cyprus issue.    

The Elders organization — a group of statesmen co-founded by Annan which speaks out on global issues – hailed him as “a voice of great authority and wisdom in public and private”. 

“The world has lost an inspiring figure – but one whose achievements will never be forgotten, and whose commitment to peace and justice will endure to inspire future generations,” deputy chair Gro Harlem Brundtland said in a statement.

Greek Cypriots Reject a U.N. Peace Plan

Divided as ever as Cyprus limps into the European Union, Greek Cypriots rejected a United Nations peace plan on Saturday that would have reunited the Turkish and Greek sides of the island, while Turkish Cypriots approved it.

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But nothing came of it

Three of four Greek Cypriots rejected the plan put forward by Secretary General Kofi Annan that would have allowed tens of thousands of Cypriots to return to homes they lost in 1974 when Turkish troops occupied the northern third of the island in response to an attempt by Greece to annex the entire island.

In contrast, about 65 percent of Turkish Cypriots approved the United Nations plan in the hopes of ending their international isolation and shaking off the effects of a 30-year economic embargo.

The Mediterranean island is only 35 miles from Turkey’s coastline, closer than it is to Greece. It has twice in the past half-century brought Greece and Turkey, ancient rivals and NATO allies, to the brink of war. The prime ministers of both countries, as well as the United States and the European Union, had supported the reunification plan, and said their improved relations would not be affected by the outcome of the Cyprus vote.

But without an endorsement from both Cypriot sides, which voted in separate referendums, the peace plan is effectively dead. Both Mr. Annan and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell have warned the Cypriots that no other settlement effort is on the horizon.

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S&P, Moody’s lower Turkey’s ratings

Given that they were dishing out high ratings to all and sundry right up to the 2008 crash – and were judged to have been accomplices before the fact – you might want to ask how much their “ratings” can be trusted . . .

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Would you buy a used car from these guys?

Two major global ratings agencies lowered Turkey’s ratings Aug. 17, saying they could be upgraded with certain economic improvements.

Standard & Poor’s said it lowered the country’s long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating to ‘B ‘ from ‘BB-‘ while maintaining the outlook at stable.

The agency also said it affirmed the short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on Turkey at ‘B’.

“We could consider an upgrade if the government successfully devises and implements a credible economic adjustment program that bolsters confidence, stabilizes balance-of-payments flows and brings inflation under control,” the agency said in a statement.

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Turks destroy dollars, break iPhones in reaction to US sanctions

Several Turks have had their share of 15 minutes of fame this week when their videos showing their furious reaction to United States sanctions went viral, as they destroyed dollars and broke their iPhones.

Destroy iPhones and dollarsIn one of the most popular videos, a Turkish butcher was seen “mincing” dollar bills, while a businessman from the south-eastern Şanlıurfa province opted to burn them.

In another popular video, a man was seen breaking several iPhones for “reis,” which means “leader,” referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. As he also broke other phones for two cabinet ministers sanctioned by the U.S., six young men behind him were seen calling out, “God is great.”

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Thanks to Trump, Turkey is not alone

Extracts from an opinion piece by Murat Yetkin

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Turkish guy facing down a tank at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport – July 16, 2016

Does the U.S. president really, sincerely think the actions and sanctions against Turkey will work? They did not work against Iraq in the 1990s. Iraq could be put down through military action. They did not work in the 2000s against Russia, who even grew strong enough to influence the U.S. elections.

It is something favorable if Turkey and the U.S. are on good terms, with better cooperation and mutual respect, but . . . Turkey does not owe its existence to the U.S. and will not cease to exist without it.

Trump’s actions and sanctions on the Turkish economy . . . not only have had a rally-around-the-flag effect (as anyone who has read a bit of political history would guess) but have also told the Turkish people they have friends around the world who care for them.

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CNN news coverage on the night of the attempted coup. So was it staged? Who were the US supporting?

Be it in their own interest or by seizing an opportunity to say something against Trump’s policies, which bother many economies from China to the European Union, voices have been raised by those who have taken a stand with Turkey. Before this currency crisis, there were only a few of them; Azerbaijan and Qatar . . . the most loyal of them.

However, right after Trump started to use American economic power as a political tool against Turkey, not only Russia, Iran and China have chosen to speak out against the U.S., but European NATO allies like Germany and Italy have also started to lobby for Turkey.

Qatar pledges $15 billion investment

Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani paid a snap visit to the Turkish capital on Aug. 15 for talks with Erdoğan after a phone exchange the two men held late Aug. 13. Bilateral relations and regional developments were discussed in the working lunch that took more than three hours. The Emir pledged a direct investment worth $15 billion to Turkey, a presidential source said.

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Qatar’s and Turkey’s leaders meeting over lunch

“We attach importance to his visit. This visit, at the same time, is an indicator that Qatar stands with Turkey,” Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın told reporters at a press conference on Aug. 15.

In a written statement, on the day Emir al-Thani paid a visit to Ankara, Qatar’s Ambassador to Turkey Saleem Mubarak al-Shafi reiterated his country’s support to the Turkish government.

“Just like during the defeated coup attempt in 2016, Qatar is the first country rushing to help its Turkish brothers and we will continue to stand with them,” the ambassador said. Underlining that his country has already expressed that it was ready to assist Turkey in this period, al-Shafi informed that the Qatari people have bought liras worth millions of dollars in direct support to the Turkish economy.

Turkey and Qatar enjoy a unique relationship in the region. Turkey, which has a military base in Qatar, rushed supplies to the Gulf state after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a boycott in 2017.

Erdoğan spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the late afternoon on Aug. 15, after the latter has openly backed Turkey in its row with the U.S. that brought about political and economic sanctions. He will talk to French President Emmanuel Macron on Aug. 16, another European heavyweight.

“All these indicate there is a growing reaction in Europe against Trump administration’s restrictive and punitive economic policies. We are of the opinion that this marks an important point,” Kalın said.

European countries have expressed concerns and reactions over Trump’s harsh measures on Turkey on the grounds that it could also hit the global economic structure, particularly Europe, which has extensive economic cooperation with Turkey.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, “In fact, all these incidents have opened the world’s eyes. They have seen once again how the current American administration can disrespectfully use its economic power against countries,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Turkey’s frustration is bigger than US’s

Turkey’s disappointment regarding the Trump administration’s stance is much deeper because it has not taken into account its ally’s national security concerns, the Turkish government has said in response to a statement from a White House official that United States President Donald Trump is frustrated Turkey has not released pastor Andrew Brunson. 

Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu

Turkey’s  Minister of Foreign Affairs responding to President Trump’s “frustration

“The president has a great deal of frustration on the fact that pastor Brunson has not been released as well as the fact that other U.S. citizens and employees of diplomatic facilities have not been released,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in a statement on Aug. 14.

“The U.S. or any other country should not just focus on their own frustrations. They should also take into account our frustrations [with regard to their policies]. We also have frustrations,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters on Aug. 15 in response to a question on Sanders’ statement.

For Çavuşoğlu, the U.S. decision to ally with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, a group Ankara considers as terrorist, and to arm them, is a bigger source of disappointment for Turkey.

The U.S. inaction on Turkey’s extradition request for Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), who Ankara blames for the coup attempt in July 2016, is another source of frustration for Turkey, he said.

“Now, they are even trying to protect FETÖ members in third countries. Why do they support them? Because they love traitors or because they love Turks, Muslims? We only tell the truth and say what we see. You should not just see it from your perspective,” Çavuşoğlu said.

The minister called on the U.S. to respect the judicial processes and to put an end to the idea that their objectives could be achieved by pressure or punitive actions.

In the meantime, both Çavuşoğlu and Kalın explained the signing of the Pentagon bill delaying the transfer of F-35 aircraft to Turkey for 90 days should not be considered as a sanction.

“Turkey is not just purchasing F-35s but a part of this project. It made its payments for the project. Turkey will have to resort to legal action if these aircraft are not delivered. We hope this will not happen,” Kalın said.

“Our advice to the U.S. is not to use these as a tool. This seriously tarnishes U.S. credibility. No country in the world is without alternatives and helpless. Every nation is honorable and needs to be respected,” he said.

In God We (used to) Trust – Is God deserting the USA?

The Government Wants to Teach Students How to Treat Gunshot Wounds. That Could Save Lives, Experts Say

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is offering a new $1.8 million grant for a program teaching high school students “mass casualty survival techniques” in the event of school shootings, expanding a training that some medical experts say should be “as common as CPR.” 

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Gunshot injury, biceps

The School-Age Trauma Training program will aim to teach high school students medical triage and bleeding control techniques to help victims who have sustained traumatic injuries until first responders arrive. 

“Similar to how students learn health education and driver’s education [sic!], they must learn proper bleeding control techniques using commonly available materials; including how to use their hands, dressings and tourniquets,” the Department of Homeland Security said in an appendix to the grant announcement, specifically citing the frequency of school shootings. “Victims can quickly die from uncontrolled bleeding within five to 10 minutes; however, anyone at the scene can act as immediate responder and save lives if they know what to do.”

US-POLITICS-GUNS-SCHOOLS-PROTESTAs the school year begins, many students are returning to campuses with new metal detectors, surveillance cameras, as well as more armed officers and teachersAnd some medical experts say trauma training, like the kind that will be funded by the DHS grant, should be expanded more broadly — and should have been a priority well before school shootings became a more common threat.

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