Author: The Fifth Column

Anti-US Populism Increases in Turkey as it Engages the US in a ‘War of Words’

Never have the US-Turkey relations been at such a low ebb as today due to the alleged US involvement in the (failed) coup attempt. Despite the fact that Turkey is a member of NATO—a legacy of cold war Western alliance against the former Soviet Union and a modern manifestation of military imperialism—Turkey’s leadership seems “determined” to stick to its guns against the “front” that has been opened against it at a time when most of the Middle East is in the grip of terror. Dissolution of an elected government in Turkey, however bad its policies were, would have sent serious political jolts across the entire Mid-Eastern political landscape and put Turkey on course to social and political fragmentation, the kind of which is currently prevailing in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Libya. Who would have benefited the most from it?

Turkey’s leadership tends to believe it would have been the US Hence, widespread anti-US populism in Turkey that may, at some point, lead to some concrete and significant changes in its foreign policy. So far, however, the anti-US populism that Erdogan is fanning seems to be aimed at putting some pressure on the US to refrain from making further attempts at dislodging Erdogan. By keeping the Turks politically charged (read: Several hundred flag-waving protesters staged a peaceful protest march near the Incirlik base on Thursday, chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) and “Damn the USA”, the pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper reported. The protesters burned a US flag), Erdogan has developed a sort of insulation against the “Western conspiracy”, as also considerably strengthened his own political base.

Yemen: Saudis Using US Cluster Munitions

Saudi Arabia has used US-made cluster munitions near civilian areas inYemen, leaving behind unexploded submunitions, Human Rights Watch said today. TheUnited States should cease its production and transfer of cluster munitions to conform with the widely accepted international ban on the weapons.

US export rules that rely on weapon reliability standards have not prevented the sale of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia, putting civilians at long-term risk, Human Rights Watch said. Cluster munitions are prohibited by a 2008 treaty signed by 119 countries, though not Saudi Arabia, Yemen, or the US.

“The US has sold Saudi Arabia cluster munitions, a weapon most countries have rejected due to the harm they cause civilians,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition, the international coalition of groups working to eradicate cluster munitions. “Saudi Arabia should stop using cluster munitions in Yemen or anywhere else, and the US should stop producing and exporting them.”

Does the Erdoğan-Davutoğlu split provide an opening for Turkish democracy?

This week the widening rift between Turkish Prime Minister Davutoğlu and President Erdoğan was officially acknowledged when Davutoğlu’s resignation as the party leader was announced after a long meeting between the two. Anextraordinary party congress will be held to elect the next leader.

The discord between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu was well-known for a while; but it reached a peak last week when the Prime Minister was stripped of his power to appoint the heads of local AKP branches through a decision taken by the pro-Erdoğan members of the AKP’s executive board. There were rumours about ‘an internal coup’ against Davutoğlu, especially after an anonymous blog calledPelikan Dosyası appeared a few days ago with many claims and conspiracies in an evident attempt to discredit Davutoğlu.

A Showdown in Venezuela

In order to understand the current plight of Venezuela, one has to go back to the parliamentary elections of Dec. 6, 2015. For the first time, the base of President Nicolás Maduro’s support, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), took a beating.

Supporters of the Bolivarian regime won 55 seats in the legislature. The opposition bloc, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), won 109 out of 167 seats, plus another three that were awarded to representatives from Indian organizations who are also members of the opposition coalition.

Their opponents were euphoric over the Bolivarians’ misfortune: it seemed as though the «hated regime» was on the verge of collapse. The leaders of the opposition were sure that Maduro’s government would be gone within six months at most. But those predictions did not come true. President Maduro, as well as the politicians loyal to him who were schooled by Hugo Chávez, are holding the line.

Hollywood Stars Cavort in Cuba while Arrests of Dissidents Hit New High

Apparently, Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba was just what the island needed to kick off its popularity. In the last few weeks, it has played host to a concert, a fashion show, the filming of a Hollywood movie, and visits from international celebrities.

All of that happening while, behind the scenes, Raúl Castro’s regime represses dissenters and the number of exiles continues to climb. Demonstrations and protests for the release of political prisoners — such as The Ladies in White and Unpacu — continue to be squashed and silenced.

On Wednesday, May 4, local press revealed that Kim, Khloé, and Kourtney Kardashian as well as rapper Kanye West had arrived to the island to get to know Cuban culture.
This Wednesday also saw Charlize Theron arrive to Havana to participate in the making of Fast and Furious 8, which started filming a week ago.

Gemini Just Became The World’s First Licensed Ether Exchange

Cryptocurrencies are decentralized, self-regulating digital currencies that may be used as “cash” for global trading and are based on very complex mathematical algorithms that must be approved by a majority of the community, making it practically impossible to defraud. It offers instant exchanges from anywhere in the world, with little or no charges.Gemini Trust Company, LLC is the first company in the US (and the world) to gain a license for trading Ether, a new and emerging type of cryptocurrency that is run on the platform Ethereum which, according to their website, “is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.”

Cryptocurrencies garnered hostility from the mainstream population due to its tendency to attract illegal businesses, mainly because it offers anonymity and can be used to transfer money without a trace. While their legality varies from country to country, people see their possibilities and advantages and the acceptance of digital currencies has been developing.

Recently, Japan recognized Bitcoin and a license has been issued to Bitstamp for trading bitcoins within the EU.

Bahrain Sentences 3 Protesters to Life in Prison

Six others were handed 10 years in jail on Thursday each for their role in the unrest, General Prosecutor Ahmed al-Hammadi said.

The nine were tried for attempted murder of police officers, possessing explosives and participating in clashes in March 2014, Hammadi said, AFP reported.

Bahrain last month sentenced eight people to life in jail allegedly for “terrorism” and violence against security forces in January last year.

The tiny Persian Gulf state has been shaken by unrest since it quelled a popular uprising demanding reforms in 2011.

The kingdom, connected to Saudi Arabia by a causeway, lies across the Persian Gulf from Iran and is home to the US Fifth Fleet.

Further Proof That Aliens Are Definitely Out There

Are we alone? It is, perhaps, one of the most significant questions human beings have ever asked—right up there with “Why are we here?” and “How did it all begin?”

Indeed, as soon as we understood that the universe was not circumscribed by the Earth’s horizons, but extended outward for unfathomable distances and contained within its compass innumerable worlds like our own, we began to wonder whether we are unique and alone, or if there might not be others out there—like us, and yet very unlike us.

The famous “Drake equation,” formulated by astronomer Frank Drake in 1961, sought to establish a mathematical, probabilistic framework to understand the question of whether or not humanity ia really alone in the cosmos; it used a number of ingenious terms to estimate the number of technological civilizations in our galaxy.

How Japanese Officials Can Atone for Fukushima

The meltdowns and release of radiation from the Fukushima Daaichi nuclear power plant has been an ongoing crisis for five years. Nuclear engineer Koide Hiroaki has been one of the most trenchant critics of how the Japanese government and power company TEPCO (mis)handled the disaster. In a wide-ranging interview at Counterpunch, he offered a way for officials, who have gone unpunished, to atone.

Right now the people of Fukushima have been abandoned in the areas of the highest levels of radiation. And abandoned people have to find a way to live. Farmers produce agricultural goods, dairy farmers produce dairy products, and ranchers produce meat; these people must do so in order to live. They are not the ones to be blamed at all.

As the Japanese state is absolutely unreliable in this matter, these people have no choice but to go on producing food in that place, all the while suffering further exposure. So I don’t think we can throw out the food they produce there under those conditions. Inevitably someone has to consume that food.

Making China Great Again

The final of the World Snooker Championship took place this week in Sheffield, the hardscrabble town in England’s north perhaps best known as the setting for the movie The Full Monte.

Sheffield is a former industrial center so snookered by globalization that the laid-off steel workers in that 1997 film decide to become male strippers to make ends meet. Twenty years later, Sheffield’s steel industry continues to shed jobs, largely because of cheaper steel imports coming from China.

Still, the sector is creating some new jobs as investment is also coming in from…China. Last year, a major Chinese manufacturing conglomerate, CISDI Group, chose Sheffield for its trans-Atlantic headquarters. China thus emerges as the villain and the savior of Sheffield.

White Supremacist groups are coming together to fight the “Race War”!

In late April, a meeting occurred that went under the radars of mainstream media. The results of the meeting were ten white supremacy groups signing a pact, with claims several others are not far behind.

The agreement between the groups comes at a time where racial tension is still high in the country, but these white supremacy groups say that they are done with the internal battles that have been prevalent among the different groups.

Many see the various white nationalist groups and consider them to all be one and the same. However, this could not be further from the truth. Their differences can range from significant issues, to what appears to be quite trivial issues from an outsider’s perspective. Nevertheless, these differences have caused there to be internal fighting among the different groups throughout the years. Fighting that will no longer be tolerated, according to the National Socialist Movement Commander Jeff Schoep.

EFF’s ‘Who Has Your Back’ Report Takes on Uber, Taskrabbit, Airbnb, and More

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The “sharing” or “gig” economy is booming—you can get rides with companies like Uber, hire people to run errands with services like Taskrabbit, or find a place to stay on websites like Airbnb. These companies connect people offering services to people purchasing them, and in the process they have access to vast amounts of personal data. But how well do these companies protect your information from the government? The sixth annual “Who Has Your Back” report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) surveyed the biggest providers in the gig economy to find out.

“These companies collect information on what you buy, where you sleep, and where you travel—whether you are offering services, or purchasing them,” said EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman. “Often they go even further, collecting contents of communications and geolocation information from your cell phone. But are these companies respecting their users’ rights when the government comes knocking? For much of the gig economy, the answer is no.”

Maduro Cracks Down

Olga Meza sat down at the table in the office of a local human rights organization in Venezuela [1] and said she wanted justice for her 16-year-old son. She broke down in tears as she spoke of the night that members of Venezuela’s investigative police force broke into her home, beat her and other members of her family, and forced her to watch as a security agent stormed into her son’s bedroom and shot him dead.

Washington [2], along with a handful of Latin American capitals and several former heads of state, has criticized the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro [3] for using excessive force against antigovernment protesters, prosecuting its critics, and jailing political opposition leaders.

When is a fact a fact in China?

If you are a journalist in China, “the spirit” moves you. And the spirit refers, of course, to the priorities and precepts of the Chinese Communist Party.

Back in February, in a speech to media bosses and propaganda leaders, President Xi Jinping reprised the Party’s dominance over media and information in terms more explicit than those used by any leader in recent memory. Media must, said Xi, “be surnamed Party.”