Jonah Goldberg: Why Does Trump Insist on Such Absurd Moral Equivalency?

g-berg-putin-trump-latimes

Once again, President Trump has come to Russian President Vladimir Putin ’s defense by throwing America under the bus.

Jonah Goldberg writes: In a pre-taped interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, aired on Super Bowl Sunday, Trump was asked to explain his respect for Putin.

From Our Partners: Asked About Russia Sanctions, Donald Trump Says ‘We Ough…

“He is the leader of his country,” Trump said, adding the usual boilerplate about wanting to have good relations and help fighting Islamic State.

O’Reilly interjected, “Putin’s a killer.” And a vexed Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country is so innocent?”

putin-wax-statue

Wax statue of Vladimir Putin, Madame Tussauds

This was no gaffe. A similar conversation played out between MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Trump in December 2015. Scarborough asked about Trump’s bromance with Putin and Trump responded, “When people call you brilliant, it’s always good. Especially when the person heads up Russia.”

Putin “kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries,” objected Scarborough. “Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?”

[Read more here, at the LA Times]

“He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, you know, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said, referring to then-President Obama.

“But, again, he kills journalists that don’t agree with him,” protested Scarborough.

“Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe,” Trump said.

chez-madame-tussauds-trump-deja-remplace-obama

Wax statue of Donald Trump, Madame Tussauds

In July, Trump said something similar in response to questions from the New York Times about the bloody repressions and mass arrests by Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.”

One might expect to hear that kind of logic from a dorm room full of Marxists. And if Obama had ever suggested the same, conservatives would have pounced. Of course America isn’t without sin. But ethically speaking, America has towered above Russia – including Russia under Putin. Read the rest of this entry »


Former Miss Turkey Convicted of ‘Insulting’ Islamist President Erdogan

Turkey retreats further into dictatorship.

Welcome to the New Turkey, where people can get locked up for saying something critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Turkish President Erdogan doesn't take 'insults' lightly. And by insults I mean 'any form of criticism.' Thomas Koch / Shutterstock.com

Turkish President Erdogan (Thomas Koch / Shutterstock.com)

When the AKP came to power in the early 2000s, Western liberals claimed the party’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was pro-democracy. He was supposed to be enlightened; an innocent Islamic version of a Christian Democrat.

Well, not so much:forbidden-turk

An Istanbul court convicts a former Miss Turkey of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan through social media postings and gives her a 14-month suspended sentence.The court finds 27-year-old model Merve Buyuksarac guilty of insulting a public official but immediately suspends the sentence on condition that she does not re-offend within the next five years.

Back in 2014, Buyuksarac (who now goes by her married name of Ciner) shared a satirical poem on her…(read more)

censored-miss-turkey

Source: PJ Media


Dutch Newspaper Publishes Cartoon Depicting Erdogan as an Ape Crushing Free Speech 

The cartoon appeared on the front page after a Dutch journalist was detained in Turkey.

After a Dutch journalist was arrested in Turkey this weekend for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the most-read newspaper in the Netherlands on Monday published a front-page editorial cartoon that shows Erdogan as an ape, apparently crushing Europe’s free speech.

The cartoon, published by the populist daily De Telegraaf, has an ape with Erdogan’s face squashing a woman who appears to be Ebru Umar, the Dutch writer with a Turkish background who was arrested in Turkey on Sunday. In the cartoon, the Turkish president is standing on a rock labeled “Apenrots” — a Dutch term meaning “monkey rocks” that is used to refer to the Dutch Foreign Ministry but can also refer to a place where one dominant individual holds power.

The cartoon is titled “the long arm of Erdogan.”

Ebru Umar, the Dutch writer with a Turkish background who was arrested in Turkey on Sunday.

Ebru Umar, the Dutch writer with a Turkish background who was arrested in Turkey on Sunday.

Umar, a columnist for the newspaper Metro, had been detained by Turkish authorities who were investigating tweets she had sent about Erdogan. Umar was released Sunday, but she says she has been ordered to remain in the country as the investigation proceeds.

[read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

The detention of Umar has added another layer to what many in the Netherlands think is a growing crackdown on free speech within Turkey — and outside its borders, too. Last week, the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam came under fire after appearing to send an email that called for Turkish organizations in the Netherlands to report insults against Erdogan to it. The Turkish Embassy later said that the email had been poorly phrased and misunderstood, but it sparked controversy within the Netherlands, which is one of many European countries that still has “lèse-majesté” laws that prohibit insults against friendly heads of state. Read the rest of this entry »


Islamist Turkey Seizes All Christian Churches in City and Declares them ‘State Property’

A Turkish policeman stands guard outside a church
Nick Gutteridge reports: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken control of six churches in the war-torn southeastern city of Diyarbakir in his latest move to squash freedom of speech and religious movement.

“The government didn’t take over these pieces of property in order to protect them. They did so to acquire them.”

— Ahmet Guvener, pastor of Diyarbakir Protestant Church

The state-sanctioned seizure is just the latest in a number of worrying developments to come out of increasingly hardline Turkey, which is in advanced talks with the EU over visa-free travel for its 80 million citizens.

Included in the seizures are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, one of which is over 1,700 years old.

They have now effectively become state property – meaning they are run by the government – in a country with a dire human rights record where about 98 percent of the population is Muslim. 

President Erdogan

The order to seize the churches was made on March 25 by Erdogan’s council of ministers, according to the website World Watch Monitor.

[Read the full story here, at express.co.uk]

They claim it was made on the grounds that authorities intend to rebuild and restore the historical centre of the city, which has been partially destroyed by 10 months of urban conflict between government forces and militants from the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).

But the seizures have outraged worshippers at the churches, who fear a government coup against their religion are now threatening to take legal action against the decision. Read the rest of this entry »

Merkel Bows to Primitive Censorship: Comedian Faces Prosecution for Poem About Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

merkel-freespeech-forbidden

Under section 103 of the criminal code, insults against organs or representatives of foreign states are punishable with up to three years in prison, or three months to five years if a court judges the insult to be slanderous.

 reports: Angela Merkel, has been criticised by members of her cabinet after acceding to a request from Ankara to prosecute a comedian who read out an offensive poem about the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The German chancellor insisted her government’s decision did not amount to a verdict on whether Jan Böhmermann was guilty or not, but should be understood as a reaffirmation of the judiciary’s independence.

“I consider this to be the wrong decision. Prosecuting satire on the basis of a lèse-majesté law is not appropriate to the modern age.”

— Thomas Oppermann, leader of the Social Democratic party’s parliamentary faction

“In a constitutional democracy, weighing up personal rights against freedom of the press and freedom of expression is not a matter for governments, but for public prosecutors and courts,” Merkel said in a press conference on Friday.

The chancellor expressed “grave concerns” about the prosecution of individual journalists in Turkey, as well as growing limitations to the right to protest, but emphasised Germany’s close diplomatic ties with the country.

Merkel was left with the final decision on whether Germany’s state prosecutor should start proceedings against Böhmermann after Erdoğan requested the comedian be prosecuted.

censorship2

“Throughout his reading, the comedian is advised by another comedian impersonating a media lawyer, who tells him this poem is precisely the sort of thing that does not qualify as satire and is therefore illegal.”

Under an obscure section of Germany’s criminal code, prosecution for insults against organs or representatives of foreign states requires both a notification from the offended party and an authorisation from the government.

Merkel and other ministers confirmed reports that there had been disagreements on how to handle the Böhmermann affair between ministers within her coalition government.

[Read the full story here, at The Guardian]

The foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Social Democrat ministers, including himself and the justice minister Heiko Maas, had been overruled by Merkel in allowing the prosecution to proceed. “It is our view that the prosecution should not have been authorised,” Steinmeier said. “Freedom of the press, freedom of expression and artistic freedom are the highest goods requiring protection in our constitution.”

“I consider this to be the wrong decision,” said Thomas Oppermann, leader of the Social Democratic party’s parliamentary faction. “Prosecuting satire on the basis of a lèse-majesté law is not appropriate to the modern age.”

campus-censorship

The little-used paragraph of the German legal code that had allowed the Turkish president to request the prosecution is likely to be scrapped in the aftermath of the affair. Merkel said on Friday that she considered the law unnecessary, and that legal steps would be taken towards deleting it from the penal code within the next two years. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] No Arrests in Siege of Belgian Extremist Hub as Suspected ‘Mastermind’ of Paris Attacks Identified 

TOPSHOTS Police officers stand guard as an operation takes place in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015. Belgian police launched a major new operation in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, where several suspects in the Paris attacks had previously lived, AFP journalists said. Armed police stood in front of a police van blocking a street in the run-down area of the capital while Belgian media said officers had surrounded a house. Belgian prosecutors had no immediate comment. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYSJOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

Belgian believed to be behind Paris attacks

DEVELOPING — Explosions rang out Monday during a massive police operation in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek as investigators searched for a suspect in the Paris massacre, but they said they failed to make any arrests.

Police were seeking the suspected attacker Salah Abdeslam, 26, and any possible associates. Dozens of masked and heavily armed security officials had sealed off the area and neighbors were told to stay out of harm’s way. Molenbeek mayor Francoise Schepmans said the operation ended after more than three hours.

One of the suspect’s brothers, Brahim Abdeslam, killed himself in Friday’s string of attacks. Another brother, Mohammad, was released after being detained over the weekend, according to his attorney. She told the RTL network her client “hadn’t made the same life choices.”

In all, five of the seven people who were detained over the weekend because of possible links to the massacre have been released, according to the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office. Two others have been charged with being part of a terror group and links to a terror attack, the office said in a statement.

belg-polic

The U.S. and Russia were among the nations rushing to France’s aid. French president Francois Hollande announced Monday that he would soon speak with Presidents Barack Obama and mastermind-sqVladimir Putin to discuss pooling their efforts to destroy ISIS. He also urged his parliament to extend France’s state of emergency for three months.

Investigators identified a Belgian jihadist believed to be fighting alongside ISIS in Syria as the suspected mastermind behind Friday’s attacks that killed at least 129 people.

A French official told The Associated Press that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 27-year-old from Molenbeek, was also believed to have ties to the thwarted attack on a Paris-bound high-speed train this past August, as well as a failed plot to attack a Paris-area church. He is reportedly the child of Moroccan immigrants.

telegraph

The Daily Telegraph reported that Abaaoud was the head of a terror cell based in Verviers, Belgium that was broken up by police this past January. However, he appears to have escaped the clutches of the authorities and made his way to Syria.

Salah Abdeslam had been stopped at the French border with Belgium early Saturday, hours after the attacks, The Associated Press reported. Read the rest of this entry »


Palace Intrigue: Putin’s Aide Mikhail Lesin Found Dead in Hotel ‘Murdered for Being an FBI informant’ – or ‘Could Even Still Be Alive’

Will Stewart reports: The death from a ‘heart attack’ of a longtime close ally of Vladimir Putin in a Washington hotel has led to a swirl of speculation that he was murdered on Moscow’s orders after offering to help the FBI.

“Nicknamed the ‘Bulldozer’, Lesin was one of the key props of the Putin presidency, personally masterminding a wide-ranging media crackdown which has left the vast majority of Russian TV stations and newspapers obedient to the Kremlin.”

Mikhail Lesin, 57, was announced last weekend to have been found dead in the US capital. He was a Svengali figure for Putin, who was alleged to have menaced the Russian media into idolizing the strongman president.

“He also set up Russia Today, now RT, seen by critics as a ‘propaganda’ channel aimed at the West.”

The shock death has created an eave of speculation in Moscow that it is related to previous reports that he was helping the FBI – and could be murder.

There are even separate allegations that Lesin may still be alive, with his demise faked by the US authorities.

[Read more here at Daily Mail Online]

According to this version, he is being kept safe as part of a witness protection scheme, while spilling to the FBI all he knows on Putin’s Russia.

Daily Mail Online can reveal that only weeks before his death was announced, he fathered a child with glamorous model and flight attendant Victoria Rakhimbayeva.

Murdered? Mikhail Lesin and his new love Victoria Rakhimbayeva, who were photographed when she was pregnant. He was found dead last Friday in a Washington DC hotel - and now speculation is mounting about him

Murdered? Mikhail Lesin and his new love Victoria Rakhimbayeva, who were photographed when she was pregnant. He was found dead last Friday in a Washington DC hotel – and now speculation is mounting about him

Claim: Lesin was reported by the TV station he set up - RT, known to be pro-Kremlin - to have died from a longstanding illness while staying at the Dupont Circle Hotel (pictured)

Claim: Lesin was reported by the TV station he set up – RT, known to be pro-Kremlin – to have died from a longstanding illness while staying at the Dupont Circle Hotel (pictured)

World traveler: Victoria Rakhimbayeva, believed to be 29, posted photographs from around the world and said that she and Lesin were planning to live in New York, although she preferred Los Angeles

World traveler: Victoria Rakhimbayeva, believed to be 29, posted photographs from around the world and said that she and Lesin were planning to live in New York, although she preferred Los Angeles

“There are unsubstantiated claims in Moscow that when he died he was in debt to billionaire Yury Kovalchuk, one of Putin’s closest big business friends.”

She is believed to be aged 29, with whom he had enjoyed a close relationship since at least mid-2014.

She has not commented on his death other than to thank friends on social media for their commiserations, but before the tragedy she made clear that they intended to set up home permanently in New York.

[Read the full story here at Daily Mail Online]

Despite Russian reports of a heart attack, police in DC have said no cause of death has been determined while also indicating there was no obvious sign of foul play.

‘A ruling on the cause and manner of death is pending further investigation,’ said a Saturday statement.

Nicknamed the ‘Bulldozer’, Lesin was one of the key props of the Putin presidency, personally masterminding a wide-ranging media crackdown which has left the vast majority of Russian TV stations and newspapers obedient to the Kremlin.

He also set up Russia Today, now RT, seen by critics as a ‘propaganda’ channel aimed at the West.

But earlier this year, after the break-up of his marriage, and in a new relationship with his Siberian lover who he may have wed – she referred to him as her ‘husband’ – he suddenly quit the latest of several high profile positions, as head of Gazprom Media, a major state owned media conglomerate. Read the rest of this entry »


Turkish Prosecutor Taken Hostage in Istanbul

turkey31315

Members of the illegal left-wing organization the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front have broken into a Turkish prosecutor’s office and taken him hostage

Yael Klein writes: The prosecutor, Mehmet Selim Kiraz, was targeted by the organization because he represented the state in the sensitive case of a young man’s death during anti-government protests in 2013. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was the Turkish prime minister at the time of the protests, exercised a very strict policy against the protestors. The young man was killed after the police used excessive force against the demonstrators, and the organization has taken Kiraz hostage as an act of protest against Erdogan.

Special Forces surrounding the building Photo Credit: Reuters / Channel 2 News

Special Forces surrounding the building Photo Credit: Reuters / Channel 2 News

The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front has issued a message in the social media, threatening to execute the prosecutor by 3:36 pm (local time) if its demands are not answered. The members of the organization demand that the police officers who caused the death of the young man in the 2013 protests confess to killing him on live television. Read the rest of this entry »


Turkey, U.S. Warn Syrian City Will Soon Fall

Both Countries Urge the Other to Halt ISIS Advance on Kobani

Turkey and the U.S. warned that a major Syrian border city was in imminent danger of falling to Islamic State, with the two countries putting the onus on the other to halt the extremist group’s advance.

“You can’t end this terrorism just by airstrikes. If you don’t support them on the ground by cooperating with those who take up a ground operation, the airstrikes won’t do it.”

— Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pressed the U.S.-led coalition on Tuesday to move ahead with plans to arm and train Syrian and Iraqi ground forces to battle Islamic State, saying airstrikes alone weren’t enough.

An American military official said the U.S. believes the situation in the predominantly Kurdish city of Kobani is increasingly dire, and that the city is likely to fall shortly if Turkey doesn’t intervene.BN-EW719_1007is_OR_20141007093816

The complications for Turkey stemming from the advance on Kobani were mounting rapidly. Beyond U.S. pressure to step in, protests by the country’s restive Kurds were spreading quickly. At least a dozen people were killed in clashes with security forces in several Kurdish-majority cities, local media reported. The demonstrations reached Istanbul.

Airstrikes Tuesday by the coalition fighting Islamic State hit positions near Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab. But Kurdish officials and Syrian opposition members said the militants were still advancing against Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Mr. Erdogan declared Kobani was “about to fall” while he was visiting a refugee camp in the border province of Gaziantep.

“You can’t end this terrorism just by airstrikes,” he said. “If you don’t support them on the ground by cooperating with those who take up a ground operation, the airstrikes won’t do it.”

The U.S. and its partners have conducted hundreds of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State in recent weeks. But they have so far ruled out the deployment of their own ground forces, opting instead to train and support local forces.

P1-BR534_ISKURD_G_20141007182116

U.S. defense officials reiterated Tuesday that they are not going to directly coordinate operations with any force on the ground in Syria until at least some of the vetted moderate rebels have been through upcoming military training and are ready to enter the fight. Read the rest of this entry »