Tag: european union

Major Foreign Policy Shift: Turkey Abandoning EU for SCO

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on November 20 that Turkey did not need to join the European Union «at all costs». Instead, it could become part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), or Shanghai Pact. The Turkish leader said he had already discussed the idea with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organization founded in 2001 in Shanghai. Its members are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan speak Turkic languages.

India and Pakistan are to become full-fledged members by the next meeting at Astana in 2017. Mongolia, India, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are SCO observers. In 2013, Turkey got the status of SCO’s «dialogue partner». The other country with the same status is Belarus. Dialogue partners are entitled to take part in ministerial-level and some other meetings of the SCO, but do not have voting rights.

French Government Creates Illegal Database on over 60 Million Citizens

By setting up a single database centralizing information on the entire French population behind their backs, France’s Socialist Party (PS) government is giving the state vast repressive powers. Coming amid the state of emergency, it constitutes a fundamental threat to democratic rights, in particular to opposition within the working class to austerity and war.

The database, named “Secure Electronic Titles” (TES), was decreed into existence on October 30. It centralizes the personal and bio-metric data of all holders of passports or national identity cards. It concerns over 60 million people, that is, virtually the entire French population. The official launch of the database took place last Tuesday in the Yvelines area and will be extended across France at the beginning of 2017.

The database was prepared in violation of the law, behind the backs of the population. It was first proposed in 2011 at the National Assembly, during a debate on a secure national ID card, and sharply criticized by the National Commission on Information-Processing and Liberties (CNIL). While recognizing as “legitimate the use of bio-metric information to identify a person,” the CNIL ruled that “bio-metric data must be conserved in an individualized data system.”

The Lost Language of Integration

In a recent This American Life episode, investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones discusses the perils of America’s segregated school system. She points out that there has been only one proven way to narrow the performance gap between African-American and white schoolchildren, and it has nothing to do with magnet schools, or Teach for America, or any of the newfangled efforts to right a wrong system. The only strategy that has shown demonstrable success in the last half century has been: desegregation.

Between 1971 and 1988, the gap between the standardized reading scores of black and white 13-year-olds dropped by more than half. “And these scores are not just the scores of the specific kids who got bussed into white schools,” notes host Ira Glass. “That is the overall score for the entire country. That’s all black children in America, halved in just 17 years.”

Syria as Metaphor

The war in Syria is a nightmare. It’s a nightmare for all the civilians who suffer from constant aerial bombardment, who are trapped without food and medical assistance inside crumbling cities, who experience the retribution of either the Islamic State or the regime in Damascus. It’s a nightmare for those who try to escape and face the prospect of death in transit or limbo in refugee camps.

Syria is a nightmare for individuals, millions of them. But it’s not just that. If states could dream, then Syria would be their nightmare as well.