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Trump and Erdogan “mend fences” again

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Presidents of the United States and Turkey Donald Trump and Recep Erdogan met for bilateral talks in Washington on November 13th . In the course of what Donald Trump described as “lengthy and productive” negotiations and during a series of one-on-one and enlarged meetings, the Turkish leader announced his country’s  determination to start a new chapter in relations with the United States, which has long been Turkey’s close partner, he said. In turn, President Trump made it clear that he is a genuine supporter of the Turkish leader, who does so many good things for his country and for his people. Both presidents assured each other of their commitment to “Atlantic solidarity” and reprimanded French President Emmanuel Macron for doubting it.

The participants in the talks made no concrete statements at the closing press conference.

Undoubtedly, the meeting meant a lot for both parties. Amid the current anti-Turkish sentiments that prevail across a wide spectrum of the political establishment and that dominate an equally large part of public opinion, Trump, who could well be facing impeachment shortly, should find continuation of the policy of “pacifying” Turkey an exceptionally risky game. As for Erdogan, many Turkish experts believe that given Ankara’s not very successful Syrian policy, a failure of the negotiations would create an extremely unpleasant situation for Turkey, both geopolitically and economically. For the United States as well, the hypothetical “loss” of Turkey, with its unique strategic position and second largest army in NATO, could seriously damage its positions in the Middle East region, particularly, against the strengthening of the positions of Russia.

The two presidents met at a critical period for Turkish-American relations. Among the “stumbling blocks” that have accumulated over the years are the following: a resolution adopted by the US Congress that acknowledges the Armenian genocide of 1915 (the resolution was suspended by the Senate following the meeting), the purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense systems, Washington’s refusal to extradite to Ankara the preacher Fethullah Gulen, who was accused of plotting a military coup back home, the charges against Turkish Halkbank for breaching anti-Iranian sanctions, the suspended but not lifted sanctions for operations in Syria, which, according to US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, “are always on stand-by, ready to use”, and finally, a threat to track down and arrest foreign assets that belong to Erdogan and his family members.

Several days before setting out for his overseas trip President Erdogan said that during the negotiations with his American counterpart he was planning to focus on bilateral relations, including  “S-400 missiles, Patriot air defense systems and F-35 fighters,” as well as “regional issues”. And supposedly, he was also set on demonstrating to Moscow yet again that Ankara has room for maneuver outside the Astana format. Right before departure, Erdogan switched the emphasis from the above mentioned one to the struggle against terrorism, in other words, to the “Kurdish issue”: “Neither Russia nor the United States has kept their promises to Ankara concerning the withdrawal of terrorists from areas bordering Turkey. We will discuss this issue with Donald Trump. Upon my return, I will bring the matter up in a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. ”[i]

Shortly afterwards, there appears an article in the Yeni Şafak newspaper that the Kurds, “having failed to get the desired revenues on the oil wells” they captured in Syria, have signed an agreement with the Israelis on the development of oil fields and the sale of oil. From Ankara’s point of view, this is a blatant “conspiracy” on the part of Turkey’s hardcore foes – the Kurdish militants and Israel, who both enjoy American patronage.

The final decision to go to Washington was made after a “very effective”, according to Trump, telephone conversation between the American and Turkish leaders (after the Congress passed a resolution on the 1915 genocide, Erdogan, at least in words, nearly changed his mind about flying to Washington). In the long run, his decision could not be shaken, even by a publication in the New York Times of unfriendly excerpts from working correspondence by William W. Roebuck,  assistant to Trump’s special representative for Syria James Jeffrey. According to the documents that the newspaper had got hold of, Roebuck blamed “Turkish-sponsored armed Islamist groups,” for nothing less than ethnic cleansing and military crimes in northern Syria. He described the Syrian democratic forces, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization “a strong and reliable ally.” [ii] All this comes in the wake of a statement made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that the recent military operation by Turkey no less than prevented the formation of a “terrorist state ” which Israel and some Arab countries allegedly put a stake on!

Finally, on the eve of the negotiations, The Washington Post, citing its sources, reported that the American president was offering the Turkish leader a $ 100 billion trade deal, on conditions favorable for Turkey, as well as a “shortcut” for handling the situation involving Russian missile systems. According to the newspaper, the United States is yet again trying to persuade Turkey not to put S-400s which had arrived from Russia, on combat duty, proposing in return to forget about sanctions and return Ankara to the F-35 production program (in which Turkey has invested heavily!). Well, the attempt to “buy” encased missiles is truly in the spirit of the American businessman president. It is unclear, however, what the partners will fill the 100 billion “wallet” with: at present, the volume of bilateral trade fluctuates around $ 20 billion.

Back to the negotiations. In a nutshell,  judging by the presidents’ press conference, they agreed to continue to work out an agreement on all points of the agenda. For example, commenting on Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400s, Trump said that Washington and Ankara will continue to work in this direction and that “this issue will be considered at foreign minister level.” “Only through dialogue,” – Erdogan confirmed. This means the bargaining goes on.

It looks like the presidents have not come to agreement on the Kurdish issue either. The Turkish president assured his counterpart that Turkey remains America’s most trustworthy partner in Syria, and this state of things should persist in the future. [iii] In other words, it can be assumed that he thereby wanted to say that Ankara is willing to replace the Syrian democratic forces as a major proponent of the American policy in the region. Of course, on condition of maintaining its top priorities: to block the Kurds from creating their own state and redirect the flow of hydrocarbon fuels that are supplied to Europe to pass through its territory.

In fact, having achieved next to nothing in Washington, Erdogan, nevertheless, has demonstrated to the rest of the world (and not in the last place, to his voters) that he is a full-fledged and unyielding partner of the United States. Presumably, he expects Moscow to appreciate it as well. No one can say for sure how long this game on how to boost the geopolitical weight of Turkey will last. But obviously, it will not go on forever, and this is what the Turkish authorities ought to be aware of. 

From our partner International Affairs

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Global Warming And COP26: Issues And Politics

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The president’s massive social services and infrastructure package is under consideration by Congress.  The problem is Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia.

Not only is West Virginia a coal-producing state but Mr. Manchin owns two coal companies.  Although in a blind trust operated by his son, it is clear that coal companies make money when they sell coal.

But coal is a serious polluter, possibly the worst among fossil fuels.  Any serious attempt to reduce the impact of climate change will replace coal with at least natural gas — available in abundance and emitting almost 50 percent less CO2 according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Republicans — many of whom deny global warming following Trump’s lead — adamantly oppose the plan en bloc, so Senator Manchin’s vote is crucial.  For the moment then, the fate of the planet lies in the hands of one man because, quite simply, if the US backs off, China will be relieved of pressure — also Russia which has an abundance of fossil fuels.

Hence the importance of the COP26 climate summit scheduled for October 31 – November 2 in Glasgow.  Originally planned for 2020, the meeting was postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic.  The town is preparing for an influx of 25,000 people as lobbyists, conference attendees and demonstrators arrive. 

It is an interesting meeting, liked by some to a teacher requiring a class to prepare and bring term papers.  The 200 countries represented will be bringing their plans to meet the goals of the Paris accords.  These require the signatories to commit to enhance ambitions every five years — thus 2020 postponed to 2021 — under the so-called ‘ratchet mechanism’.  The Paris Accords aimed to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius and to aim for 1.5 degrees Celsius.

As often, people leak documents to help their agenda.  This time a huge leak shows how important fossil fuel using and producing countries are attempting to modify a crucial scientific report.  Oil producer Saudi Arabia, coal producer Australia and heavy user Japan are among those questioning a rapid change from fossil fuels.  Saudi Arabia for one also lobbied previously in 2015 with some success.

This time the lobbying effort consists of more than 32,000 submissions (by governments, corporations and other interested parties) to the team of scientists preparing scientific reports designed to coalesce the best science on tackling global warming.  One can imagine the headache for the scientists, who for the most part have a regular job, often as professors.  Produced as “assessment reports” by IPCC (the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) these represent a consensus of the views of different governments, and are used by them to decide what action will be needed. 

The many bodies involved, the complicated murky politics and the enormous pressure from different parties all point to the crucial fact that billions of dollars are involved now in today’s dollars versus promises of a better and distant future.  We can only hope we have  decision makers with foresight, and leaders without Trumpian climate change ignorance and excess.

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America’s Two-Tiered Justice System

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The Constitution states only one command twice. The Fifth Amendment says to the federal government that no one shall be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” The Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, uses the same eleven words, called the Due Process Clause, to describe a legal obligation of all states. These words have as their central promise an assurance that all levels of government must operate within the law and provide fair procedures to all its citizens.

In this politically divisive climate, the central promise has been broken with little to no assurance that one can trust the American democratic system where some courts have disavowed their responsibility to uphold the Constitution’s meaning of the laws passed by Congress. For instance, the Bill of Rights was passed because of concepts such as freedom of religion, speech, equal treatment, and due process of law were all deemed so fundamental to protect every legal resident in the nation; yet we are now witnessing politically charged judicial appointments eradicating these principles under which all persons and entities are accountable to equally enforce and independently adjudicate, as well as being consistent with international human rights.

On the heels of the Chinese coronavirus, there is an escalating epidemic of unequal justice and character assault where much of the news media is politically aligned with the rulers in turning a blind eye or complicit in the coverup; and in some cases, ravenously endorses the demise of what has essentially now become political dissidents falsely accused, intimidated, and jailed. While many Americans are attempting to scrape by in difficult times, they remain astute to the moral failure of the elites in power as well as the tacit elected opposition’s assiduous silence in whitewashing the legal duplicity. Historical trends over centuries of betraying the peasants eventually succumbs to a reckoning where the privileged corrupt politician and their corporate fascists will be exposed and held accountable in some fashion.  

Americans are confounded by the coronavirus decrees requiring masks to be worn for thee and not for me double standards. The politicians hammer away at enforcing mask mandates on the common folk, yet they do not adhere to their own edicts while attending fine dining with their elite backers. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Californian Governor Gavin Newsome, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot all violated their own mask mandates in public venues while the masked servants waited on them.

President Biden was caught on video walking maskless through a swanky Washington restaurant in violation of the District’s laws on facial coverings, yet regular citizens are subject to civil penalties which result in fines of $1000.00 or revocation of licenses during the COVID-19 emergency. In defending the emperor, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said we should ‘not overly focus on moments in time that don’t reflect overarching policy.’ These double standard by the progressives are a far cry from Americans being punished and ostracized all over the country for not wearing a mask.

Identity politics has resulted in two systems of justice – one where BLM rioting and looting is described by the media as peaceful demonstrations and where assaulting police has no criminal consequences; yet the January 6th actions at the Capital has resulted in the largest round up of protesters ever seen in America. It is estimated that the Federal Government has upwards to 70 rioters/trespassers in solitary confinement and they are only let out in a larger area for one hour at 2 am due to COVID. Some of those being held in detention have been charged with trespassing on restricted grounds, others with assault and obstruction, and some haven’t been charged with anything. There are no bail hearings for these political activists yet BLM and Antifa rioters typically spend one night in the brig and let out the next day to rejoin the frontlines of carnage.  

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vocally pushed for the January 6th ‘insurrectionists’ to be added to the TSA no-fly list. Civil liberties are being trampled by exploiting insurrection fears with people in attendance no longer permitted to take a flight in their own country and they have not been convicted of a crime. This action by the government had previously only happened to suspect foreign terrorists, and now it is happening to Americans under suspicion. We see no similar actions taken against the militant Antifa anarchists who attacked and torched federal buildings in Portland.

Washington DC has essentially been abusing these inmates in captivity. There have been complaints on the nourishment of their fellow Americans where they are served white bread and a packet of tartar sauce. This is ultimately a violation of the 8th Amendment that prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, nor cruel and unusual punishments, and from inflicting unduly harsh penalties. Some judges are expressing concern at the length of these pretrial incarcerations, however they’ve largely deferred to the Justice Department. Meanwhile anarchists who burn down buildings and shoot projectiles at police officers and federal buildings have charges dismissed. Justice is not equal.   

One female trespasser was shot dead by police during the Capital unrest and there was no outcry or charges against the officer. She was white and a Trump supporter. Federal prosecutors are not seeking criminal charges against the police lieutenant whose single shot killed Ashli Babbit, the 14-year veteran who served four tours with the US Airforce. If the unarmed Babbit committed any crime, it would have been for trespassing, a misdemeanor that should have seen her arrested and not slain. The lieutenant’s life was not at risk nor was he saving the lives of others as he stood with numerous police officers in riot gear and strapped with submachine guns. If a member of BLM was shot dead by police during an unlawful riot, there would have been an immediate racial outcry from political elites and from across the news media for justice followed by looting local retailers and ransacking a police precinct. The action by BLM is considered righteous violence whereas the slain Babbit had it coming to her.  

On a very disturbing and new level of injustice is the threatening actions being taken against parents of schoolchildren by the Department of Justice. Most Americans are familiar with the Patriot Act following 9-11 where the National Security Division conducts counterterrorism operations against foreign adversaries planning suicide bombings and stealing nuclear secrets. Now the Biden Administration, under Attorney General Merrick Garland, has turned the NSD’s crosshairs against everyday Americans conducting their civil duties and free speech as school board meetings.

Garland’s actions followed the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) claim that American public schools and its education leaders are under immediate threats and intimidation as parents grow frustrated over the divisive neo-Marxist Critical Race Theory being injected into their children’s curricula. This is clearly an injustice to weaponize the DOJ and FBI investigators to intimidate and arrest parents under the same counterespionage to that of Al Qaeda and ISIS. Parents may be angry, but they are certainly not domestic terrorists in taking on the powerfully partisan school unions who somehow believe they are justified to influence civilization by indoctrinating their children.        

Garland’s poster boy for his hideous partisan support of the NSBA is a Virginia father who was arrested at a school board meeting when he attempted to raise the alarm over his young daughter being raped in the school washroom. The father became the symbol of angry parents confronting school officials when he was taken down by several police officers and apprehended for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He became vocally upset when school officials denied the attack on his daughter, but he was not physically confrontational.

The father said it is scary that our government will weaponize themselves against parents and they’re using my video across the nation to spread fear; while the school officials did not seem to want to listen to him regarding his daughter being assaulted by a boy wearing a skirt who took advantage of transgender rules to access the girl’s washroom. The boy has now been charged with two counts of forcible sodomy, one count of anal sodomy, and one count of forcible fellatio related to the incident at that school. At a later date, the same boy was charged for a similar attack at neighboring school where he allegedly forced a victim into an empty classroom where he held her against her will and inappropriately touched her.  Regardless of the raped daughter, Garland and the NSBA still have their video of the father being wrestled down to support the use of the FBI against parents and send a chilling effect on harmless dissent.  

The Russian collusion narrative against then President Donald Trump may seem dated, however it can never be swept aside or forgotten in what may well have been the biggest political scandal and injustice to a man in American history. The country endured four years investigating Russian collusion into the legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 presidential win with senate and congressional impeachment hearings over a Clinton-paid-for fake dossier, the biased Obama hatchet men overseeing the FBI and CIA shirking the law, a frenzied media that never let up on Trump’s guilt, and a special counsel comprised of Clinton partisans that turned over every leaf that eventually found the nearly crucified Trump to be innocent of the false charges. The former president had to withstand an incessant blitzkrieg of injustice through his entire presidency while leading the most powerful country in the world.   

On the hand, there is compelling evidence that President Joe Biden spent years while in government enriching himself through family ties, specifically his son Hunter, to the tune of millions of dollars in foreign money from China, Russia, and Ukraine. The foreign players simply used the unqualified son to leverage access to Biden while satisfying Hunter’s greed and questionable lifestyle. Biden has little to no ability to stand up to China or Russia knowing they are holding damaging transactions over his head. There have been no investigations into Biden’s quid-pro-quo against Ukraine or the transfer of tens of millions of dollars to Biden family members, no impeachments, and the news media buried these stories; including damaging information found on Hunter’s laptop during the 2020 presidential election. Had Trump and his sons engaged in these activities, there would have been a very different level of justice.   

What of this injustice that is making its mark on history? If we take a moment to think through the confusion of the moment and see the morale issue involved, then one may refuse to have this sense of justice distorted to grip power rather than for the good of the country. Those who have sown this unjust wind may eventually reap a whirlwind that provokes reform by convulsion of the people instead of a natural order of business. We must all remember that democracy lies with the people of this land and whether the nation will be stirred to stand for justice and freedom in this hour of distress and go on to finish in a way worthy of its beginning.  

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Biden’s Department of Justice: parents as domestic terrorists

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In recent developments in the United States, US Attorney General, Merrick Garland, and the FBI have put under the FBI radar parents as potential domestic terrorists. You heard it right. This is now a new formal legal policy contained in memos of the Department of Justice trying to reign in parents discussions on Biden’s new school curricula. They are not going after potential outbursts but outright terrorism. 

This is an attack on freedom of speech in the sense that parents have the right to discuss and disagree with the new Biden school curricula. This is where the issue originated: parts of Biden’s new school curricula are not accepted by many parents and if they disagree, the FBI treats them now as potential domestic terrorists as a matter of policy. Apart from a First Amendment case, this is also a case for international human rights law and I reported the development to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of speech this week hoping to get a statement.

The Department of Justice is referring to some constitutional provision on “intimidation of views” to override and take down one of the most firmly established rights, the right to freedom of speech, in quite frankly a ridiculous interpretation. Those parents that dare to speak up against controversial parts in the new text books could be investigated for domestic terrorism. This is the most incompetent interpretation on limitations of freedom of speech I have seen in awhile. 

Garland and the FBI have totally lost their marbles. The woke discussion is not funny to me anymore. It increasingly looks like a woke tyranny that has nothing to do with rights and equality anymore but simply serves as a vehicle to empower the FBI to run wild against regular people. This lunacy needs to be stopped.

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