Searching for the truth – Distrust everything, including this blog

I’m suspicious of all politicians. Success in politics requires compromise – and it’s difficult, if not impossible, to maintain moral integrity and stick to your principles in the face of bribes, threats, the power of vested interests, and the fickleness of public opinion.

money powerI have personal  first-hand experience in New Zealand of what the political and business establishment will do to get rid of threatening opposition. I know that those interests control the mainstream media and largely determine what news and views will be presented, and what suppressed.

So why do I continue to read and watch those obviously manipulated media? For me, an important principle is, Know your enemy. If you don’t know what they are saying and doing, how can you hope to counter them?

Furthermore, although they are controlled, those media often contradict each other, or provide information unwittingly that undermines the establishment position. Ignoring them as a source limits one’s ability to fight against them.

And what is the alternative? I love the Internet, and I am in awe of the volume of information available; its anarchic uncontrollable character; and the fact that I can find answers to my every question. The Internet has transferred some of the power out of the hands of governments and those who control them, and given it to those of us who are searching for the truth.

talking heads 3Nevertheless, we would be naïve to believe that those governments and corporate interests are not aware of the danger, and don’t seek to use social media for their own purposes.

Consequently, I am disappointed when I find companions in the quest for truth seeming to accept unquestioningly arguments and material disseminated on the blogosphere.

A case in point:An article recommended to me, entitled “Should US-Saudi Alliance Be Saved?” written by one Patrick J Buchanan. Read the piece if you want – maybe you already have. Anyway, some comments of my own:

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I must say the more I read about WWII and events leading up to it, the more I’m inclined to agree that it was an unnecessary war. Well, all wars are bankers’ wars, as they say. Oliver Stone made the case that dropping A-bombs on Japan was totally unnecessary. The more I see of Germany, the more I think the Allies smashed the country so they could lend them the money to rebuild afterwards – and probably the same was true for Japan.

I’m not so keen on Buchanan’s analysis in this instance though. He makes one or two valid points, but his argument is a bit muddied, I think, and his conclusion definitely questionable:

For sure, in the Kashoggi case, the US has a major conflict of interest – and economic realities will undoubtedly figure in any decision they take about what to do in the matter.

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Oh, what is the truth, man? Let’s hear from the women?

I don’t understand, though, why Buchanan has to go back to Ottoman times tor his first parallel; part of the widespread anti-Turkey mindset? At least he didn’t go for the old chestnut of the Armenians (as an aside, I wonder why not?). Of course we know the Brits were just as self-interestedly hypocritical as Uncle Sam. There was plenty of international outrage in the 1860s and 70s re what the Russians were doing in the Caucasus, but not much came of that.

Diplomatic realities, of course, are diplomatic realities. What did the US have to gain by refusing to “recognize” the Soviet Union, or PRC China, for that matter? They exist, and you can’t really ignore that. Recognizing them didn’t stop all the anti-Communist propaganda of the Cold War, though. Nor did it stop the US from continuing to support the “Nationalist” regime in Taiwan.

I’m no fan of Winston Churchill, but, when dear old England was fighting for its life in WWII, I can imagine he might have considered running an investigation into Nazi Germany’s discovery of suspicious graves in Poland to be a debatable luxury. You can’t really blame the guy if he had other more pressing matters on his mind.

Buchanan does have a valid point about Chile, South Korea, the Philippines and Iran (and he could have added many more to the list). As we know, these were all more or less US puppet leaders. All that proves is that any administration in the US is totally devoid of morality, not just Trump’s. Absolutely the US was behind the overthrow of Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, just as they had supported Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship for nearly 30 years.

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So where do I sit?

Another thing I don’t understand is the criticism of Turkey I constantly hear: “There was a failed military coup attempt in 2016 and the government has used this an excuse to arrest thousands of people.”

Turkey had experienced four successful military takeovers between 1960 and 1997. It must be obvious that senior army officers would not risk their careers, never mind their lives, if they didn’t believe they had significant support, at least within the country, if not from outside its borders. Surely we would expect a far-reaching governmental investigation to follow a coup failure, and some pretty serious consequences for anyone found to have been involved.

As for the imprisoned journalists – I keep hearing this, and most of the figures seem to emanate from a shady outfit calling itself Reporters without Borders. The fact is, I live in Turkey, and I am surrounded by people who are shrill and ceaseless in their hatred and criticism of President Erdoğan, yet I don’t know anyone who has been arrested or imprisoned. The leader of the largest opposition party CHP is constantly criticising the government, and his speeches are always reported at length in mainstream media. International news media are never-ending in their attacks and black propaganda they circulate about Turkey’s government, and I have no trouble accessing their websites. Who are these imprisoned journalists, and what did they do to get themselves in trouble? Criticism is one thing, but supporting violence and armed rebellion against your country’s elected government is surely a different matter – especially in a region as volatile as the one where Turkey is located.

As another aside, most of what I see in NZ and UK media these days seems to focus on royal marriages and babies! CNN’s only interest in the Kashoggi matter seems to be how it will affect the stock market. Al Jazeera is covering it very thoroughly and we know the US and the Saudis would dearly love to shut them down. What happened to Bradley/Chelsea Manning in the USA? Where are Edward Snowden and Julian Assange? And what happened to all the outrage over Wikileaks’s leaks after it became clear that the US government was going to pursue anyone disseminating the information? Who owns most of the private news media in Italy? I have to say I find the hysteria over journalists in Turkey to be totally hypocritical!

Finally, Buchanan’s conclusion: “Rather than resist Congress’ proposed sanctions, President Trump might take this opportunity to begin a long withdrawal from decades of entanglement in Mideast wars that have availed us nothing and cost us greatly.”

Is he serious? Cost the US greatly, for sure – but is he overlooking the oil? Why does he think the US is involved in the Middle East at all? Why did they create Israel in the first place, and why do they continue to support them, right or wrong? Why do they hate Iran so much? Why do they support brutal dictators in Egypt and Saudi Arabia etc? If not for Saudi oil it would have been much harder to apply pressure to socialist governments in countries like Venezuela. Why are they so keen to support Kurdish separatists in Iraq and Syria if not to establish a grateful oil-rich puppet state?

I expect more reasoned argument from those who set themselves up as alternatives to the mainstream press.middle road

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What’s going on with Jamal Kashoggi?

Apparently, the Trump administration have offered to send FBI agents to Istanbul to “help” with the investigation. An article I’ve just read in Time says:

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Protesting the disappearance in Istanbul

“the assumption is that the Saudi regime took the opportunity to silence one of its more prominent critics.

The mystery is how. Turkish authorities, albeit not the most trusted bunch themselves, believe Khashoggi was murdered inside the building by a team of 15 operatives, his corpse dismembered and transported outside in boxes.”

What can you say to that? The FBI couldn’t stop 9/11, even when they had strong evidence it was coming! And you can’t trust Turkish authorities?! On the other hand, of course, you can totally trust US authorities, and British, and New Zealand, and Australian . . .

Well, if you’d like to see what the Turkish investigation has turned up so far, check this out – and then decide for yourself who to trust.

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Apple Watch ‘at heart of investigation’ on missing Saudi journalist Khashoggi

Two senior Turkish officials revealed the existence of an object that may provide important clues to the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who disappeared in Istanbul last week: The black Apple watch he was wearing when he entered his country’s consulate.

The watch was connected to a mobile phone he left outside, Reuters quoted the Turkish officials as saying on Oct. 10.

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“Will you come into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly . . .

Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist and newspaper editor, had lived in exile in Washington for more than a year, writing a column for the Washington Post in which he regularly criticised his country’s crackdown on dissent, its war in Yemen and sanctions imposed on Qatar.

He said he could write freely in the United States in a way that was impossible at home, according to friends and colleagues, but he was increasingly worried that Riyadh could hurt him or his family.

In Turkey, though, Khashoggi had friends in high places, including some of President Tayyip Erdoğan’s advisers. So when he walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2, he hoped the appointment would be brief, a simple bureaucratic task that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancee, whom he had met four months earlier.

“He said the safest country in the world for Saudi Arabians was Turkey,” said Yasin Aktay, an Erdoğan aide and close friend of Khashoggi.

Friends and family have not seen him since.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi, 59, was killed inside the consulate.

Read more

Turkey imprisons journalists? – E U countries murder them!

Bulgarians mourn murdered journalist – raped, beaten and suffocated

Leading EU politicians and media activists urged Bulgaria on Oct. 8 to conduct a fast investigation into the murder of journalist Viktoria Marinova, as mourners planned vigils across the Balkan country.

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Murdered Bulgarian journalist, Viktoria Marinova

Marinova’s body was found in a park near the Danube river in her home town of Ruse on Oct. 6. Prosecutors said she had been raped, then beaten and suffocated.

Bulgarian Interior Minister Mladen Marinov, who travelled to Ruse to oversee the inquiry on Monday, has said there was no evidence so far to suggest a link to Marinova’s work as a journalist.

But media focused on her recent work. On her last TV show on Sept. 30 Marinova featured two journalists who were investigating an alleged corruption case involving EU funds. She promised that her recently launched current affairs show ‘Detector’ would do more of its own investigations.

“Shocked by the horrendous murder of Victoria Marinova. Again a courageous journalist falls in the fight for truth and against corruption,”the European Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmerman tweeted.

Marinova is the third journalist murdered in the European Union over the past 12 months.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s best-known investigative reporter, was killed when a bomb blew up her car in October last year and Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak was shot dead in February.

Vigils were planned in Sofia, Ruse and the northern cities of Vidin and Pleven.

Bulgaria ranked 111 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index this year, lower than any other EU member and also lower than other countries in the western Balkans, some of which are candidates for EU membership.

In October 2017 hundreds of Bulgarian journalists protested in downtown Sofia downtown against threats from Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov against the country’s biggest broadcasters. He accused the mainstream media of leading a “massive smear campaign” against him.

Press Freedom in Turkey – and democracy on social media

Feelings are running high in Turkey at present over the violent attacks by Israeli security forces on Palestinian protesters in Gaza. The government has openly condemned the Israeli government’s actions. This evening a public meeting will be held in Istanbul, and no doubt strong words will be spoken.

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Condemn the cruelty – Support Jerusalem!

Interestingly, the people of Turkey, and before them, the Ottoman Empire have a long history of providing friendship, support and even sanctuary to Jewish people when they were suffering persecution in Europe.

I want to share with you two news items that appeared in our local newspaper this morning:

The first refers to an incident that took place yesterday in Taksim Square – a location teeming with emotive connotations for Turks of all political persuasions.

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Reaction to two Israeli journalists

Apparently two Israeli journalists representing a TV channel Hadashot were attempting to interview passersby about their views on the recent events in Gaza. It seems things were peaceful enough until a woman, allegedly a citizen of Azerbaijan, became angry. “You are killing people in Palestine,” she shouted, “and you are coming here to do reports!”

A crowd began to gather and two other people joined the woman in starting to push the two journalists around. Luckily for the Israelis, police intervened, listened to their complaints and took the woman into custody.

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An ugly share

The second item was about Yair Netanyahu, son of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. According to the article, the PM’s son posted a picture of the Turkish flag on Instagram accompanied by some obscene words.

Possibly the young Netanyahu was surprised at the negative reaction he received to his post, and shortly after closed his Instagram account.

Can Turkey do anything good?

I’m translating for your information an article I came across in our Turkish daily this morning

No one knows we are looking after 3.5 million refugees

On Wednesday, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mehmet Şimşek, participated in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The session, chaired by well-known New York Times writer, Thomas Friedman, was titled “Finding a new equilibrium in the Middle East”

davos refugees

Wilful ignorance? Or just plain ordinary ignorance?

[Others on the panel were Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, and Ursula von der Leyen, Federal Minister of Defence of Germany; Member of Board of Trustees of the World Economic Forum.]

When Mr Şimşek mentioned that Turkey was currently hosting 3.5 million refugees from Syria, and if you included those from Iraq, the total reached 3.7 million, Friedman expressed surprise.

“Did you say 3.5 million?” he asked Şimşek.

Isn’t it rather strange that Friedman, who knows the Middle East very well, and has been writing about the region for years, wouldn’t know this figure?

Clearly, we have been unable to sufficiently publicise how many refugees we have in our country, and what we are doing for them.

Certainly, there is no excuse for Friedman’s not knowing the actual extent of the refugee crisis caused by the ongoing war in Syria. Spokespersons for the United Nations Refugee Agency have been speaking out on the issue for years and calling on First World nations to provide more assistance.

On the other hand, “experts” in the west seem to know some things about Turkey with absolute certainty:

  • They “know”, for example, that Turkey is responsible for the genocide of one-and-a-half million Armenians in 1915.
  • They “know” that Turkey invaded the island of Cyprus in 1974, divided it in two, and refuses to leave.
  • They “know “that Turkey has been buying oil from ISIS terrorists and supplying them with weapons.
  • They “know” that Turkey has more journalists in prison than any other country in the world.

Pretty much anything bad about Turkey, Western media are happy to circulate uncritically – but when it comes to giving credit for positive actions and achievements . . . ZILCH!

So, is Turkey at fault for not getting its message across? Or is it that Western interests don’t want to know? Draw your own conclusions.

More EU Hypocrisy

Probably you’ve seen the news about the “blogger” murdered in Malta:

Anti-graft blogger killed by car bomb

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Not much left of her to investigate, I’m guessing

Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s best-known investigative journalist, was killed on Oct. 17 when a powerful bomb blew up her car, police said, in a case that stunned the small Mediterranean island.

Caruana Galizia, 53, ran a hugely popular blog in which she relentlessly highlighted cases of alleged high-level corruption targeting politicians from across party lines. “There are crooks everywhere. The situation is desperate,” she wrote in a blog published on her site just half an hour before an explosion tore into her car.

Locals said Caruana Galizia had just left her house and was on a road near the village of Bidnija in northern Malta when the bomb detonated, sending her car flying into an adjacent field.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who faced accusations of wrong-doing by Caruana Galizia earlier this year, denounced her killing, calling it a “barbaric attack on press freedom.”

He announced that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had agreed to help local police investigate the killing and was flying experts to the island as soon as possible.

“I will not rest until I see justice done in this case,” he said in a statement, calling for national unity. [Yeah, sure!]

Vigil

Heureusement, nous ne sommes pas Daphne

Around 3,000 people held a silent, candle-lit vigil yesterday evening in Sliema, just outside Valletta.

The hashtag Je Suis Daphne circulated widely among social media users on the island of 400,000 people, the European Union’s smallest state.

Malta is, of course, a member of the European Union (since 2004) and the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Recently, when the gnomes of Brussels announced plans to establish a new European public prosecutor’s office with powers to combat corruption and fraud involving EU funds, Malta was reported as refusing to sign up for it. Interestingly, that same news item mentioned in its final paragraph that Sweden and the Netherlands had expressed concerns about “losing sovereignty”. So I’m guessing those shining beacons of transparency and democracy are refusing to sign up too.

Britain’s Guardian of human rights and press freedom, in its coverage of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, had this to say:

Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia poses outside the Libyan Embassy in Valletta

Daphne Caruana Galizia in happier days

She believed, in essence, that malign and criminal interests had captured Malta and turned it into an island mafia state; she reported on a political system rife with corruption, businesses seemingly used to launder money or pay bribes, and a criminal justice system that seemed incapable, or unwilling, to take on the controlling minds behind it all.

Probably her greatest achievement over the past year was to spark, more or less singlehandedly, an extraordinary political scandal that has embroiled the island’s prime minister, his closest political allies, and the ruling family of Azerbaijan.

Had this fiercely independent journalist finally got too close to something – or was she proving too much of an irritant to someone?

There is nothing to suggest any of this is linked to her murder.

WHAT!! ARE THOSE PEOPLE SERIOUS?

Two questions for folks at The Guardian: When was the last time a journalist was assassinated in Turkey for posing a threat to the government? And who was in power at the time?

Democracy under threat in New Zealand

Citizens in Germany and New Zealand have just exercised their democratic right to elect representatives to their countries’ parliaments. The results are not dissimilar but response from the media and mainstream politicians has been remarkably different.

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New Zealand is one of them – and Big Business doesn’t like it!

In Germany, the party led by Chancellor Angela Merkel won 33% of the popular vote, and 35% of the seats in the Bundestag. She, the country’s news media and most Germans expect Ms Merkel to continue as Chancellor after forming a coalition with one or two other parties. That’s the way the system works. It’s called Proportional Representation, and allocates seats in the nation’s legislature to parties according to the number of votes they receive. Sounds fair, doesn’t it? No moaning and grumbling – just get on with the job. As they do in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and many other civilised countries using a PR electoral system.

But take a look at what’s happening in New Zealand. The governing conservative National Party gained 46% of the vote and a proportional number of seats in the House of Representatives; the Labour Party, 36%, and two minor parties, around 8% and 6%, entitling their supporters to some representation in parliament.

And listen to the uproar! The news media are filling their pages with black propaganda against Winston Peters, leader of the tiny NZ First Party:

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An orchestrated campaign to turn back the clock

“New Zealand’s hung parliament”

“The New Zealand First leader and kingmaker”

“Winston Peters, who currently holds the country’s future in his hands”

Kingmaker? Does that mean that the Prime Minister of New Zealand, almost always from the big business National Party, exercises the power of a monarch? More or less, yes!

Certainly Big Business does not like the MMP system of proportional representation that citizens in New Zealand worked so hard to bring in in 1994. And I guess they are also not keen on Mr Peters, who campaigned against business “fat cats”, and has been harshly criticising the size of exit packages dished out to departing corporate CEOs.

Interestingly, voter turnout in NZ parliamentary elections has been increasing in recent years, possibly as voters start to realise the power MMP gives them to exercise some control over the actions of the government. This year the turnout was 79%, similar to Germany’s 76%.

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Not much has changed in the US. The best democracy money can buy!

Compare that to the United States of America, land of the free and loudest trumpeter of its hallowed democracy. In the 2016 election that brought Donald Trump to the world stage, only 58% of American voters bothered exercising their right. Two years previously, in the mid-term election for representatives to Congress, a mere 36% turned out.

I’m sure there is nothing Big Business in New Zealand would like better than to return to the old First-past-the-post voting system where the National Party used to regularly govern alone despite winning fewer than half of the popular votes, and sometimes fewer than the main opposition party.

When you have been the government for most of the last 70 years, you have had ample opportunity to “adjust” the system to ensure you continue to do so. Now it seems they are dragging out the counting of special votes to build up pressure on the small parties, and to persuade the New Zealand public that the system is bad. And they have the news media in their pocket. As always, prior to the election, the tame media once again built up the pathetic Labour Party into a “credible” opposition to ensure that the “minor” parties stayed that way.

When all the shouting is over, poor New Zealanders can look forward to another four years of being screwed by Big Business and their National Party stooges.