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Global Government Introduction:


      The move toward a global government received a big boost this summer by the introduction of a proposal for an International Criminal Court. Over U.S. objections, the United Nations Diplomatic Conference voted 120 to 7 in favor of establishing an international criminal court to try individuals accused of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression.










Behold a Black Horse

 Behold a Black




Price R 249.00 




Behold a Black Horse:

 Economic Upheaval and Famine


by Dr. Chuck Missler



The third of the “Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse” brings inflation and famine on an unprecedented scale.
•What is the real cause of inflation?
•What are the real causes of famine?

Most famines are the direct results of government’s deliberate decisions. Germany sank into the most severe hyperinflationary period in recorded history after printing 1.3 trillion marks: that translates to about 4 trillion in today’s dollars. Ironically, that is almost exactly the same amount of money the United States government has printed since 2008. What are the implications for us today?

How can one use Bayes’ Theorem in “reverse probability”? (Can you form a hypothesis based on experience, common sense and whatever data are available; then test the hypothesis not by what has happened before, but by what comes after?)

The theorem has proved its worth, such as in 2012 when it was used to successfully predict the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in all 50 states before the final vote counts were available.

Join Dr. Chuck Missler in the Executive Briefing Room of the River Lodge, New Zealand, as he explores the identity of the third of the Five Horsemen of Revelation.

This briefing pack contains 2 hours of teaching

Available in the following formats


•2 MP3 files

•1 PDF Notes file






Obama makes final trip to China, Southeast Asia

‎Thursday, ‎September ‎1, ‎2016, ‏‎10:34:32 AMGo to full article
Aboard Air Force One (AFP) Sept 1, 2016 - Barack Obama begins his 11th and final presidential trip to the Asia-Pacific in earnest on Friday, visiting China to nurture what has become arguably the world's most important relationship and cementing an eight-year "pivot to Asia."

After a series of US stops outside Washington, the outgoing US president jets in to the picturesque Chinese city of Hangzhou where he will take part in his final G20 meeting.

On the second leg of the trip he will become the first US president to visit Laos, site of a vast, secret US bombing campaign during the Vietnam War and, today, a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders.

Amid the week-long glut of summits, the White House sees an opportunity to burnish Obama's legacy as America's self-proclaimed "Pacific president."

The centerpiece may be an "extensive bilateral meeting" between Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, on the shores of Hangzhou's scenic West Lake.

Xi's rise to power has been a defining element of US-China relations during Obama's eight- year tenure.

In Xi, the White House sees a Chinese interlocutor as powerful as any since Deng Xiaoping, who ruled China from 1978 to 1989 -- quick to quell dissent at home, assertive in the region and keen to project Chinese power around the world.

"Xi is a different kind of actor, he has more leeway than past Chinese leaders," said Jeffrey Bader, who was Obama's top Asia advisor during his first years in the White House.

That has provided opportunities as well as areas of conflict associated with China's growing assertiveness, not least in the South China Sea where the country has claimed a swath of territory.

The White House has tried to harness Xi's autonomy and decisiveness to avoid unproductive meetings filled with pleasantries, interminable translations and rote disputes over Tibet or Taiwan.

"Obama has understood that we can expand cooperation and manage differences," said one Chinese official, adding, "we are neither friends nor enemies."

Less stuffy tete-a-tetes like those at the Sunnylands retreat in California, or at West Lake "allows the two leaders to have a candid exchange of views," former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, a China expert and Mandarin speaker, told AFP.

"It acts as an important clearing house for the issues. That is particularly important in China, where any major decisions relating to the US-China relationship have to be made by President Xi."

"We had been talking about Xi being the most powerful Chinese leader since Deng, now there is a legitimate debate about whether he will be the most powerful leader since Mao (Zedong)."

- Global China -

Obama and Xi's tenures have also seen China's transformation from regional economic powerhouse to a global force.

Today Beijing is active from Sudan's deserts to Panama's ports and on issues from global macroeconomics to public health.

"One of the most profound changes under the Obama administration was its embrace of the global nature of the US-China relationship," said Evan Medeiros, who worked in Obama's National Security Council and until last year was Obama's top Asia advisor.

In Hangzhou, Obama and Xi will play a now familiar balancing act, talking up global cooperation while managing Asia-Pacific rivalries.

They are expected to joint "ratify" a global climate deal agreed in Paris last December and made possible by a convergence of US-China interests.

But China's claims on the disputed South China Sea remain a point of deep contention.

Obama's critics at home, as well as some allies in the region, have questioned whether the administration could have done more to prevent China's territory claims.

Medeiros noted that any action to restrain China would have required "major confrontation."

Bader said the administration's approach was well-calibrated.

He also dismissed the notion that the United States should ditch engagement and treat China as nothing but a competitor.

"If you decide that China is a strategic competitor and this should be the shaping issue... you better prepare for a Cold War-type commitment vis-a-vis China, for subordinating all other issues to it -- including for instance the battle against terrorism, interest in the European project."

"Is China that much of a threat? That much of a challenge? Self-evidently, no."

- Looking south -

In Vientiane, Obama will try to shore up another pillar of his "pivot to Asia," engagement with Southeast Asian nations.

Obama's predecessors ducked summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), but the 44th president has made a point of attending.

Relations have been helped by China's assertiveness which has spooked countries across the region, making them more friendly to the US with its military might.

Ties have also warmed due to Obama's willingness to engage with Myanmar.

He has pushed for a trans-Pacific trade pact that languishes in Congress, causing consternation in signatory countries from Japan to Singapore.

Obama will set out the rationale for his strategy and the strategic importance of that pact in a speech in Laos.

"I'll think he'll talk about how far we've come in shaping an architecture in the Asia-Pacific for the United States to lead and to be at the table in forums like ASEAN and the East Asia Summit," senior advisor Ben Rhodes said.



Kerry says united with allies over South China Sea

‎Thursday, ‎September ‎1, ‎2016, ‏‎10:34:32 AMGo to full article
New Delhi (AFP) Aug 31, 2016 - The United States is united with its allies in upholding freedom of navigation rights in the South China Sea following a tribunal's decision on the contested waters, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday.

Speaking on a visit to New Delhi, Kerry called on China and the Philippines to abide by the arbitration tribunal's recent decision, saying "there is no military solution" to the dispute.

Kerry said the United States itself had no claim over the waters, that are crucial to international shipping, but would stand up for freedom of navigation rights.

"We have made it clear that we will stand up for our rights and we will stand with our allies," he said, referring to navigation and the rule of law.

"US and other countries are united in an alliance that respects freedom of navigation, the norms and standards of the laws of sea and rule of law with respect to access to the high seas," he said while speaking to engineering students at a college in Delhi.

Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea despite partial counter-claims from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan. In recent months it has built massive structures including radar systems and an airstrip over reefs and outcrops.

But the UN-backed tribunal, ruling on a case brought by the Philippines, found last month there was no legal basis for China's claims.

The US has said it will continue naval patrols near reefs and outcrops claimed by China to assert the principle of freedom of navigation, a move which has angered Beijing.

"The US continues to call upon China and Philippines to abide by the tribunal's decision. It's final and legally binding on both parties," Kerry said.

The comments come ahead of the G20 leaders' meeting in China starting on Sunday that could see tensions over territorial disputes.

Kerry is due to hold talks later Wednesday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the two nations forge closer trade and security ties, in part to check concerns over China's growing assertiveness in the region.



US, India bolster ties, warn Pakistan over extremists

‎Thursday, ‎September ‎1, ‎2016, ‏‎10:34:32 AMGo to full article
New Delhi (AFP) Aug 30, 2016 - The United States and India urged Pakistan Tuesday to do more to counter extremist groups operating from its soil as the world's two largest democracies announced measures to strengthen security and energy ties.

Speaking on a visit to New Delhi, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that ties once clouded by suspicion had progressed "amazingly" in the last two years and echoed President Barack Obama's description of their relationship as "the defining partnership of the 21st century".

India and the United States have a common goal in creating a counterbalance to the rise of China and hold regular top-level dialogue in Delhi and Washington under a formal strategic partnership.

But a flare-up in violence in Kashmir meant that India's arch-rival Pakistan featured prominently in talks between Kerry and his counterpart, Sushma Swaraj.

After Foreign Minister Swaraj reiterated long-running accusations that Pakistan was "providing safe havens to terror groups," Kerry also urged Islamabad to do more to combat extremists operating from its territory.

He said it was vital Islamabad moved to "deprive any group of sanctuary", highlighting the threat posed by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based Kashmiri separatist group behind a string of anti-Indian attacks.

"We will not and we cannot make distinctions between good and bad terrorists... Terrorism is terrorism," Kerry said at a press conference alongside Swaraj.

Kerry said the US government had "had conversations with all members of the region frankly about efforts they need to take against terrorism which comes out of their country", adding that he had personally raised the issue with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

India has accused Pakistan of stoking a new bout of unrest in Kashmir, the troubled Himalayan region which has been divided between the two countries since independence in 1947 and is claimed in full by both.

Around 70 civilians have been killed since the beginning of last month in the aftermath of the Indian army's killing of a charismatic young separatist leader and a curfew remains in place in many parts of Kashmir.

Swaraj said there was "a meeting of minds" during her talks with Kerry on tackling the threats posed by extremists as she reiterated long-standing accusations that Pakistan was sponsoring "cross-border terrorism".

"We repeated our stand that Pakistan should stop providing safe havens to terror groups... We also agreed that countries must not categorise terrorists as good or bad," said the Indian foreign minister.

Both sides said that there had been an agreement to step up cooperation on intelligence.

"We agree on additional measures to strengthen our counterterrorism," said Swaraj. "We will intensify intelligence sharing."

- Nuclear progress -

In an illustration of the burgeoning cooperation, Kerry announced plans to revive trilateral talks between India, Afghanistan and the United States.

He also said there had been an agreement "to move forward" on long-standing plans for six nuclear reactors which he said would provide electricity to tens of millions of people, without giving more details.

The deal involving US giant Westinghouse has been held up in the past by concerns over an Indian law that would make US companies liable for accidents at plants they helped build.

The start of Kerry's two-day visit came only hours after the two sides signed an agreement in Washington that allows access to each other's military bases for repairs and resupplies.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar sealed the pact in efforts to strengthen defence ties to counter concerns over China's growing military assertiveness.

Carter said the agreement would make joint operations between their militaries logistically easier and more efficient.

Washington has increasingly turned its focus to Asia as it tries to counter China's growing clout in the South China Sea, and is eager for India to play a greater role in a network of defence alliances.

The two sides are also keen to expand business ties, with the US targeting an increase in two-way trade from $100 billion to $500 billion.

US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who is accompanying Kerry, praised recent reforms by the Indian government which has moved to ease caps on foreign direct investment in a range of business sectors.

"As a result of the reforms, the US and India trade more with each other, invest more in each other, and do more business together than ever before," she said.



Editor from top Turkish daily held in post-coup crackdown

‎Thursday, ‎September ‎1, ‎2016, ‏‎10:34:32 AMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Aug 30, 2016 - Turkish authorities arrested an editor from the leading Hurriyet daily on Tuesday, continuing a sweep of the media triggered by last month's failed coup, the newspaper said.

Dincer Gokce, editor of the paper's English-language website, was among nine current and former journalists arrested in Istanbul, Ankara and Kocaeli province, Hurriyet said on its website.

Former writers for the Bugun, Radikal and Yeni Safak dailies and the defunct former opposition paper Zaman linked to the preacher accused of launching the coup were also arrested, according to NTV broadcaster.

Istanbul's prosecutor's office issued warrants for a total of 35 people over their suspected links to the renegade army units that tried to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 15, Hurriyet said.

Eighteen of the suspects had already left the country and eight others were still being sought, NTV said.

The government has accused US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen of masterminding the putsch, a claim he vehemently denies.

Ankara has embarked on a purge of tens of thousands within the police, judiciary, education, business and the media to rid the country of what Erdogan calls the "virus" of Gulen's influence.

The journalists arrested on Tuesday were accused of pro-Gulen propaganda, Hurriyet said.

Several other journalists are already in custody awaiting trial, including veteran journalist and writer Nazli Ilicak.



Wary of Russia, Lithuania builds fake town to practice warfare

‎Thursday, ‎September ‎1, ‎2016, ‏‎10:34:32 AMGo to full article
Pabrade, Lithuania (AFP) Aug 30, 2016 - Lithuania on Tuesday opened a fake town featuring a school, sports stadium and shopping mall to practice urban warfare amid concerns over a militarily resurgent Russia next door.

The first such training centre in the Baltic states, it will allow Lithuanian troops and their NATO allies to learn how to storm and protect buildings and use tunnels.

"New training conditions will help our troops to be better prepared to defend the homeland and deter the enemy," Defence Minister Juozas Olekas told reporters at the site that cost nearly five million euros ($5.5 million).

Spread across the equivalent of 20 football pitches -- or 15 hectares (37 acres) -- the complex has more than two dozen buildings, including a church and a police station, among others.

Alarmed by the Russian intervention in Ukraine and a series of snap drills in the region, Lithuania has increased its defence budget by about a third every year since 2014.

In an opinion poll last week, 60 percent of respondents in the nation of three million people said they believed Russia's foreign policy presented a threat to Lithuanian security.

NATO will deploy four battalions of around 1,000 troops each in Poland and the Baltic states next year as a tripwire against fresh Russian adventurism in its Soviet-era backyard.

Moscow denies any territorial ambitions and accuses the US-led alliance of destroying Europe's military balance.

Tensions between the 28-member NATO and Russia reached their worst level since the Cold War following Moscow's 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.



Obama, Erdogan to meet Sunday in China on G20 sidelines: WHouse

‎Thursday, ‎September ‎1, ‎2016, ‏‎10:34:32 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Aug 29, 2016 - US President Barack Obama will meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday in China on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit, with Syria high on the agenda, top aide Ben Rhodes announced Monday.

"They will be discussing the counter-ISIL campaign and the fact that we need to stay united," Ben Rhodes, the deputy US national security advisor, told reporters.

Turkey has launched military operations inside Syria against both Islamic State (IS) jihadists and the US-backed Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), creating a dilemma for Washington.

Clashes between the Turkish forces and the YPG over the weekend drew a sharp rebuke from the Pentagon, which called them "unacceptable."

A US defense official said the US-backed Kurdish forces had pulled back to east of the Euphrates river over the past day or so, as demanded by Ankara.

Turkey, a key NATO ally, regards the YPG as "terrorists," while the United States considers the militia an effective force against IS in Syria.

Obama's meeting with Erdogan would be their first since a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.

Tensions between the two allies have risen sharply since then, with Turkey demanding that the United States extradite Fethullah Gulen, an exiled former imam who Ankara claims was behind the coup attempt.



Kerry to meet India's leaders after defence pact sealed

‎Thursday, ‎September ‎1, ‎2016, ‏‎10:34:32 AMGo to full article
New Delhi (AFP) Aug 30, 2016 - Visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry began holding talks with India's top leaders Tuesday, after the world's two largest democracies signed an agreement strengthening their defence ties.

Kerry is set to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders in New Delhi on ambitious plans to hike trade between their two countries five-fold to around $500 billion.

After arriving from neighbouring Bangladesh, Kerry will take part in the "strategic and commercial dialogue" launched by US President Barack Obama and Modi last year to deepen economic and security cooperation.

The talks come one day after the two sides signed an agreement in Washington that allows access to each other's military bases for repairs and resupplies.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar sealed the agreement in efforts to strengthen defence ties to counter concerns over China's growing military assertiveness.

Carter said the agreement would make joint operations between their militaries logistically easier and more efficient, while praising the strength of their overall relationship.

"Today we moved that partnership forward," Carter told reporters.

"Minister Parrikar and I are going to continue to work together to ensure that our two countries and our two militaries grow closer still."

Washington has increasingly turned its focus to Asia as it tries to counter China's growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, and is eager for India to play a greater role in its network of regional defence alliances.

Regional superpower China is expanding its deep-water naval presence and staking a claim to disputed areas of the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Both Carter and Parrikar stressed that the new agreement did not allow for US bases to be set up on Indian soil nor for troops to be stationed there.

They decided the details in Washington after reaching the agreement "in principle" in New Delhi in April, when they also agreed to strengthen their cooperation on maritime security.

Kerry, on his fourth trip to India, began meetings with ministers and senior officials, discussions that are expected to include war-torn Afghanistan and tensions with rival Pakistan.

US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who will take part in the talks, has said the idea of increasing trade from $100 billion to $500 billion was ambitious.

A US State Department senior official said before Kerry's arrival that India needed to further reform its economy if the two nations were to achieve their goal.

Modi, who enjoys close ties with Obama, pledged to overhaul India's economy after winning landslide elections in 2014 to attract much-needed foreign investment and boost growth.

Kerry's arrival in Delhi late on Monday was thrown off schedule when his motorcade was stuck in major traffic jams following torrential rain, prompting frustrated tweets from his travelling press pack.



Vietnam says all will lose in any South China Sea war

‎Thursday, ‎September ‎1, ‎2016, ‏‎10:34:32 AMGo to full article
Singapore (AFP) Aug 30, 2016 - Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang warned on Tuesday there would be no winners in any armed conflict sparked by territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Quang, who is on a state visit to Singapore, told a forum that recent developments there were threatening regional security.

The Vietnamese leader did not mention any country but there is growing unease over China's actions.

China claims most of the South China Sea. It has reclaimed reefs and built airstrips capable of hosting military equipment, sparking anger from competing claimants led by Vietnam and the Philippines.

"The South China Sea, located at the heart of Southeast Asia, not only brings about many important benefits to nations in the region but it is also a vital route to maritime and air transport of the world," Quang said.

But "recent worrying developments" there "have had a negative impact on the security environment of the region, especially maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation and overflight".

"And should we allow instability to take place, especially in the case of armed conflicts, there will be neither winners or losers but rather all will lose," he warned.

Tran was speaking to diplomats, academics and students at a forum organised by the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.

Four Southeast Asian states -- Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam -- as well as Taiwan have competing claims in the sea.

Vietnam has been among the most vocal critics of China's blanket territorial claims. In 2014 China moved a controversial oil rig into contested territory, prompting riots in Vietnam.

China's activities in the sea have also drawn criticism from the United States, which says it seeks to ensure freedom of navigation in the waterway through which $5 trillion in annual global trade passes.

The sea row has also driven a wedge between members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which has failed to forge a unified front against Beijing's actions.

Last month the Philippines won a case against China at a UN-backed tribunal in the Hague which rejected Beiijing's claims to most of the sea.

China boycotted the hearing and has refused to recognise the ruling.



China Communist party expels 'insatiable' statistics chief

‎Thursday, ‎September ‎1, ‎2016, ‏‎10:34:32 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Aug 26, 2016 - The "morally bankrupt" former head of China's statistics bureau, responsible for calculating the country's economic figures, has been expelled from the ruling Communist Party for actions including "superstitious activities" and "insatiably" trading power for sex, a watchdog said Friday.

Wang Baoan headed the National Bureau of Statistics until January, when an inquiry into him was announced just hours after he spoke at a press conference in Beijing on China's economy.

In a statement on its website, the ruling party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), its internal anti-corruption watchdog, said it had found Wang "completely lacks political beliefs".

He had "chronically engaged in superstitious activities, seriously violated political discipline and political rules, and in major issues has expressed views contrary to the CPC Central Committee", it said.

Questions have repeatedly been raised about the accuracy of official Chinese economic statistics, which critics say can be subject to political manipulation.

Wang is among the latest officials to fall to the much-publicised anti-corruption drive under General Secretary Xi Jinping, although critics say it can be used for internal faction-fighting, with its highest-profile victim the once hugely powerful security chief Zhou Yongkang, who was sentenced to life in prison.

The anti-graft campaign has been accompanied by an expansion of the rules governing apparatchiks' behaviour, including strict admonitions against publicly breaking party discipline.

The CCDI statement said Wang was "morally bankrupt" and that his offences included frequenting luxury hotels, indulging in expensive entertainment, and exploiting his position for sexual favours.

"Wang accepted gifts and money and used his influence to seek benefits and business conveniences for relatives and others, and is suspected of having committed bribery," it said.

The party decided to expel Wang due to his "serious violations" of party discipline, it said, adding that his case would be sent to judicial authorities.

Internal investigations into high-level party officials operate without judicial oversight. Once announced, they are likely to lead to a sacking followed by criminal prosecution, conviction, and a prison sentence.



Japan holds live fire drills at Mt Fuji

‎Thursday, ‎September ‎1, ‎2016, ‏‎10:34:32 AMGo to full article
Gotemba, Japan (AFP) Aug 25, 2016 - Japan's military on Thursday began four days of live-fire drills near Mount Fuji, an annual exercise that comes this year the day after North Korea test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Around 2,400 soldiers, as well as tanks, field guns and helicopters were deployed at training grounds in the foothills of the country's most famous mountain, 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of Tokyo.

The drill came as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un hailed his country's latest weapons test the "greatest success".

The 500-kilometre (300-mile) flight towards Japan, from a vessel submerged off the northeastern port of Sinpo, far outstripped previous North Korean sub-launched missile tests.

Separately, the defence ministers of Japan and Australia on Thursday condemned recent sabre-rattling from Pyongyang, which carried out a nuclear test in January.

"We are very concerned about the SLBM launch yesterday, as the North Korean move is a grave and imminent threat not only to Japan's security but also to the region and global society," Japan's defence minister Tomomi Inada told visiting Australian counterpart Marise Payne.



Japan protests more Chinese ship 'intrusions'

‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎4:25:03 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 17, 2016 - Japan lodged a fresh diplomatic protest with China on Wednesday, accusing the country of again sending its coast guard ships into waters surrounding contested islands in the East China Sea.

The two countries are locked in a long-running dispute over the uninhabited islets and tensions over them have been a frequent irritant between the countries.

Tokyo has lodged at least 32 protests through diplomatic channels since August 5 over what it says have been 29 intrusions.

Those sparked Kenji Kanasugi, foreign ministry chief of Asia-Pacific affairs, to phone Guo Yan, minister at the Chinese embassy in Japan, the Japanese ministry said in a statement.

"Despite Japan's repeated strong protests, the Chinese side has continued to take unilateral actions that raise tensions on the ground, and that is absolutely unacceptable," Kanasugi told Guo, according to the foreign ministry statement.

Kanasugi also called the intrusions a "violation of Japan's sovereignty" and are "unacceptable".

The vessels left after being warned off by the Japan Coast Guard, officials said.

Ships of the two countries regularly play cat and mouse in the waters but Japan says that Chinese activity has suddenly picked up this month, with local media speculating it is related to a secretive annual summer gathering of top Chinese leaders at a seaside resort east of Beijing.

China is also involved in maritime disputes in the South China Sea and it reacted angrily last month to a UN-backed tribunal ruling that its claims over most of the vital trade artery were invalid.

Japan has called on China to adhere to the decision and the two countries have clashed at recent regional summits and high-level meetings over the issue.

Japan's measures over the east China Sea islands have included summoning China's ambassador to the foreign ministry for a diplomatic dressing down as well as lodging protests via its embassy in Beijing.

The Japan Coast Guard on August 8 said it caught sight of 15 Chinese coast guard ships in waters near the islands -- the highest number ever spotted in the area.

Japan also protested in June after it said a Chinese navy frigate sailed close to its territorial waters near the islands for the first time.



Turkey starts releasing 38,000 jailed for pre-coup crimes

‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎4:25:03 AMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Aug 17, 2016 - Turkey on Wednesday began freeing the first of some 38,000 prisoners not linked to the failed coup who are to be released in a move aimed at relieving pressure on prisons overcrowded with putsch suspects.

The parole decision came as Turkey presses on with the biggest purge in its modern history after the July 15 bid by rogue elements in the military to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the release was "not an amnesty" but the measure could eventually apply to almost half of the Turkish prison population which has swelled to over 200,000 since the attempted coup.

It will not apply to convicts guilty of murder, terrorism or state security crimes, or the thousands detained after the putsch.

"The regulation refers to crimes committed before July 1, 2016. The crimes committed after July 1, 2016 are outside its scope," Bozdag said on Twitter.

"As a result of this regulation, approximately 38,000 people will be released from closed and open prisons at the first stage."

According to Turkish officials, over 35,000 people have been detained since the coup attempt although almost 11,600 of them have since been released.

- 'Prisons jam-packed' -

The state-run Anadolu Agency said the first convicts began to be released from Istanbul's Silviri prison hours after the announcement.

One of the freed prisoners Turgay Aydin, was quoted as thanking Erdogan and saying: "I am very happy because I am released from prison. I was not expecting it."

Bozdag said in an interview with A-Haber television that the parole could in the end apply to 99,000 out of Turkey's current total prison population of 214,000.

According to Anadolu, the total capacity of Turkey's prisons is for 187,351 people.

Hurriyet columnist Akif Beki wrote on August 11 that "prisons are jam-packed" amid the post-coup purge and asked: "How can that many be arrested without making any space?"

Turkey is in the throes of a three-month state of emergency imposed after the coup, which the authorities describe as an attempt by the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen to overthrow the existing order.

Gulen vehemently rejects the charges but Turkey has embarked on a relentless drive to expel what Erdogan calls his "virus" from all public institutions.

In the latest move Wednesday, the authorities fired another 2,692 civil servants mostly from the police, the official gazette announced. Some 75,000 people have already been dismissed from their jobs over alleged links to Gulen.

- 'Don't lose Turkey' -

Turkey has pressed the United States to extradite Gulen to face trial back home, with prosecutors already demanding a symbolically tough punishment of two life sentences and 1,900 years in jail.

US Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Ankara next week, the White House announced, in the highest ranking visit to Turkey by any Western official since the coup.

Turkey has been deeply upset by what it has described as the lack of solidarity shown by Western leaders in the wake of the coup bid and is sure to press Biden on the extradition issue.

"If the US does not send him (Gulen) to Turkey, relations will not be the same as they were before July 15," Bozdag said, warning Washington not to "lose" the Turkish people.

And in the latest dispute between Berlin and Ankara, the Turkish foreign ministry reacted angrily to a leaked German government document that described Turkey as a "platform" for Islamists.

With concern also surging over the authorities' attitude on press freedom, security forces sealed and raided the premises of the pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Gundem following a court order to shut it down.

A Turkish official said the closure had nothing to do with the state of emergency but was because the court found the paper was acting as a mouthpiece for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Ozgur Gudem said in a statement on its website that two dozen people were detained in the police raid.

Meanwhile, one of the paper's board members Asli Erdogan -- a prominent writer -- was detained in a police raid on her home, Turkish media said.

However the paper still managed to distribute a four-page edition, with the headline "We will not give in."



Indonesia vows to defend 'every inch' of territory

‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎4:25:03 AMGo to full article
Jakarta (AFP) Aug 16, 2016 - President Joko Widodo pledged Tuesday to defend "every inch" of Indonesia's land and maritime territory, following clashes with Chinese vessels around Indonesian islands in the South China Sea.

In a state of the nation address he also said Indonesia was "actively involved" in seeking a peaceful solution to the broader regional dispute about ownership of islands in the Sea.

Widodo's underscoring of Indonesia's sovereignty over the Natunas islands -- and the resource-rich waters surrounding them -- comes at a time of high maritime tensions between Beijing and Jakarta after repeated clashes there.

"We are developing regions like Entikong, Natuna, and Atambua so the world can see that Indonesia is a big country, and every inch of its land and water is truly taken care of," he said in a televised address which did not refer directly to China.

Entikong and Atambua are remote Indonesian territories bordering Malaysia and East Timor respectively.

His comments come as Jakarta prepares to mark independence day celebrations Wednesday by scuttling dozens of foreign boats seized for illegally fishing in Indonesian waters.

The government has previously said that Chinese ships would be among those scuttled. The sinking in May of a large Chinese vessel ship caught fishing illegally around the Natunas drew a sharp rebuke from Beijing.

Unlike several of its Southeast Asian neighbours, Indonesia has long maintained it has no maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea and does not contest ownership of any territory there.

But Beijing's claims overlap Indonesia's exclusive economic zone -- waters where a state has the right to exploit resources -- around the Natunas. There has been a rise in clashes there between Indonesian patrol and navy boats and Chinese fishing vessels and coastguards.

After one such encounter in June, Widodo visited the Natunas on a warship. His defence minister has since outlined plans to improve an airstrip and deploy surface-to-air missiles, drones and other military hardware to the remote islands.

In his wide-ranging address Widodo also warned that Indonesia must respect human rights or risk failing to become a "productive, developed, or winning" country.

The former furniture salesman promised upon election in late 2014 to address historic rights abuses. But he has since been criticised for authorising the execution of drug traffickers, remaining silent during an anti-gay backlash and appointing an alleged war criminal as his security minister.




Russian military says advanced air defence system delivered to Crimea

‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎4:25:03 AMGo to full article
Moscow (AFP) Aug 12, 2016 - The Russian military said Friday it had delivered its most advanced air defence system to Crimea after pledging last month to deploy it to the disputed region.

Russia's southern military district said in a statement carried by state news agencies that troops in Crimea had "received the modern S-400 'Triumph' air defence system".

The announcement comes as tensions between Ukraine and Russia have soared over the contested peninsula.

Russia's FSB security service said on Wednesday it had thwarted "terrorist attacks" in Crimea over the weekend by Ukrainian military intelligence and beaten back armed assaults, claims Kiev has fiercely denied.

The S-400 "Triumph" is Russia's latest anti-aircraft and missile defence system.

It has also been deployed to Syria, where Moscow is conducting a bombing campaign in support of long-time ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The system can track some 300 targets and shoot down around three dozen simultaneously over a range of several hundred kilometres.

Since Crimea's annexation Russia has stepped up its military presence in the peninsula, which is home to its Black Sea fleet.

The deployment of the S-400 to Crimea comes as NATO is rolling out the biggest military build-up in eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War and the United States has angered Moscow by installing a missile defence shield close to its borders.



Philippines eyes 'two-track' talks with China: envoy

‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎4:25:03 AMGo to full article
Manila (AFP) Aug 13, 2016 - The Philippines and China discussed setting up a "two-track" system that would allow them to cooperate in some areas while separately handling "contentious issues" such as their South China Sea territorial dispute, a Manila envoy said Saturday.

Former president Fidel Ramos and ex-interior secretary Rafael Alunan discussed the proposal at meetings with Chinese representatives in Hong Kong on a trip aimed at improving relations.

Ramos, a longtime advocate of closer ties, said the talks were "very hospitable... very encouraging, in the sense that we have a common interest" in such goals as fighting global warming.

They met with Fu Ying, chair of the foreign affairs committee of the National People's Congress, China's communist-controlled legislature.

Alunan said both sides discussed "encouraging track two or think-tank exchanges... where we will be discussing contentious issues."

"That would relieve us (of) the burden of discussing contentious issues because we have another group doing that while we explore ways and means on how to move our relations forward," he told reporters.

He did not say which "think-tanks" would be involved in these issues, apparently referring to the two countries' territorial dispute over the South China Sea.

When asked if they discussed a UN-backed tribunal's ruling last month that Beijing's claims over most of the South China Sea were invalid, Ramos said "we never mentioned that."

The decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration was widely seen as a victory for the Philippines which has challenged China's claims to the vital waterway.

China refused to recognise the decision and had demanded that the Philippines disregard it in future talks. The Philippines rejected this.

Both Ramos and Alunan stressed that they were only informal envoys and that further formal talks would be handled by other parties.

Ramos said they also "talked about fishing," referring to China driving away Filipino fishermen from a shoal it occupied in 2012 after a stand-off with Philippine authorities.

The shoal is 230 kilometres (140 miles) off the main Philippine island of Luzon and 650 kilometres from Hainan island, the nearest major Chinese landmass.

Ramos said he discussed restoring the previous situation where Chinese, Filipino and even Vietnamese fishermen freely plied their trade in the Scarborough Shoal.

However both Ramos and Alunan said the Chinese side made no commitments and merely noted their proposals.

While the territorial dispute has strained ties, new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has previously said he would seek Chinese help for vital infrastructure projects.

Ex-Philippine leader meets senior China official to mend ties
Hong Kong (AFP) Aug 12, 2016 - Former Philippine leader Fidel Ramos said Friday he had met with a senior Chinese official during a trip to Hong Kong aimed at improving ties between Manila and Beijing, with both sides working towards formal discussions.

Relations have cooled since a UN-backed tribunal ruled last month that China's claims over most of the South China Sea were invalid, in a sweeping victory for the Philippines which brought the case.

Ramos -- a longtime advocate of closer Philippine-Chinese ties -- was sent as a conciliatory envoy by current Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte.

In a two-day meeting in Hong Kong, Ramos said he had discussions with Madam Fu Ying, chair of the foreign affairs committee of the National People's Congress -- China's communist-controlled legislature. Fu Ying is a former ambassador to Manila.

He also met with Wu Shichun, president of China's National Institute of South China Seas Studies.

In a statement signed by Ramos, Fu Ying and Wu, the meeting was described as between "old friends" and had taken place "in a friendly atmosphere".

It listed seven topics that had been covered, including marine preservation and co-operation on crime-fighting and smuggling.

Ramos told reporters they had not discussed territorial disputes in the South China Sea, but had talked about fishing rights there.

"They discussed, in their private capacity, the way forward in the spirit of universal brotherhood and sisterhood for peace and cooperation between the two countries," the joint statement said.

It added that all parties "looked forward" to the start of formal talks which it said would be continued in Beijing and Manila.

Ramos said there would be a second round of discussions soon.

"As to where this will take place we don't know yet. We have to go back to Manila to find out the latest developments on the official side," he said.

Ramos took his characteristic informal approach to the press conference, asking reporters to stand beside him to ask questions and pose for the cameras, and telling one journalist to hold his stomach in while he spoke.

Philippine-Chinese ties have frayed in recent years due to tensions over Beijing's claims to almost all the South China Sea.

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing partial claims and are perturbed by China's aggressive moves to assert its sovereignty such as by reclaiming islands and building airstrips.

China has angrily refused to recognise last month's tribunal decision.



Turkish prosecutors demand two life terms for Gulen

‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎4:25:03 AMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Aug 16, 2016 - Turkish prosecutors on Tuesday demanded two life sentences and an additional 1,900 years in prison for US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for masterminding last month's attempted coup.

But in a step back from threats to reintroduce the death penalty in the wake of the July 15 failed putsch, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said a fair trial would represent a harsher punishment for coup plotters than execution.

Ankara is sweeping ahead with a crackdown that has seen some 100,000 people either detained or lose their jobs, worrying Western allies, with simultaneous raids Tuesday against companies in Istanbul suspected of helping to finance the Gulen movement.

Gulen, who lives in a secluded compound in Pennsylvania, has vehemently denied that he and his supporters were behind the coup attempt.

In a 2,527-page indictment approved by prosecutors in the western Usak region, Gulen is charged with "attempting to destroy the constitutional order by force" and "forming and running an armed terrorist group" among other accusations, the Anadolu news agency reported.

The so-called Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO) -- the name Ankara gives the group led by Gulen -- had infiltrated state archives through its members in the state institutions and intelligence units, according to the indictment.

The group has used foundations, private schools, companies, student dormitories, media outlets and insurance companies to serve its purpose of taking control of all state institutions, it added.

It has also collected funds from businessmen in the guise of "donations" and transferred the money to the US through front companies, and by using banks in the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan and Germany, Anadolu reported.

- 'No patience, no faith'-

The symbolic punishment of two life sentences and an additional 1,900 years in prison for Gulen is one of the heaviest ever demanded in Turkey since the death penalty was abolished in 2004 as part of the country's bid to join the European Union.

Yildirim on Tuesday called for a fair trial instead of the death penalty for suspected coup plotters, in comments seen as softer after Erdogan had suggested that the government could bring back capital punishment.

"A person dies only once when executed," Yildirim said in parliament.

"There are tougher ways to die than the death (penalty) for them. That is an impartial and fair trial."

The prospect of the death penalty being restored had stunned the EU, which makes the abolition of capital punishment an unnegotiable condition for joining the bloc.

Erdogan said on Tuesday it was only natural to discuss whether to introduce the death penalty after the botched coup, and blasted Europe for its criticism.

"If the people have such a demand, (parliament) will discuss it," he said.

Turning to Europe, Erdogan said if what Turkey faced had taken place in the West, "they would both introduce capital punishment and declare a non-stop state of emergency".

"Believe me, they do not have the patience, strength and faith that we have," he said.

- Businessmen detained -

Turkey declared a three-month state of emergency after the coup and the sheer magnitude of the crackdown prompted worries among its EU partners of a witch-hunt.

Police on Tuesday raided dozens of companies in Istanbul in search of 120 suspects including CEOs, Anadolu said.

The suspects are accused of financing Gulen's activities, but the identity of the firms was not immediately clear.

Erdogan has vowed to eradicate businesses, charities and schools linked to Gulen, calling them "terror organisations" and "nests of terror".

Gulen, a reclusive cleric in who has lived in the US since 1999, has been repeatedly accused of running a "parallel state" since a corruption scandal embroiling then premier Erdogan and several of his ministers erupted in 2013.

Ankara wants Washington to extradite Gulen to face trial back home, indicating that any failure to deliver him will severely damage ties.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu discussed the extradition process in a telephone call Tuesday with US counterpart John Kerry, the foreign ministry said, and US Vice President Joe Biden is due to visit Turkey to discuss the issue later this month.

Turkey has meanwhile sent a file to Greece asking for the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers who fled in a helicopter soon after the coup, Anadolu said.

The eight men -- two commanders, four captains and two sergeants -- were given a month's extension for their asylum requests last month.

Turkey court shuts down pro-Kurdish newspaper
Ankara (AFP) Aug 16, 2016 - A Turkish court on Tuesday ordered the temporary closure of a newspaper accused of links with Kurdish militants and spreading terrorist propaganda.

The court in Istanbul accused the pro-Kurdish Ozgur Gundem of "acting as the de facto news outlet" for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), state-run news agency Anadolu said. A Turkish official confirmed the court order.

The PKK -- considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States -- has waged an insurgency in the southeast since 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed since it first took up arms.

Police raided the newspaper's office in Istanbul and detained four people, including journalists, the private Dogan news agency said.

Turkish opposition media reported that the editor, Zana Kaya, was also among those detained.

In one clip shared on Twitter, Gulfem Karatas, a presenter for pro-Kurdish channel IMC TV, could be heard screaming and the channel claimed on its website she and her cameraman were "assaulted" by police.

Launched in 1992, leftist daily Ozgur Gundem has been the subject of court closures and raids in the past and its journalists have been arrested. It was closed from 1994 until April 2011 when it started publishing again.

The paper has featured the writings of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned since 1999.

The Turkish-Kurdish language newspaper has a print circulation of less than 7,000, according to figures from earlier this month.

- 'Violation of rights' -

The Turkish official, who did not wish to be named, said the decision to close the newspaper had no links to the state of emergency declared after last month's failed coup.

"The defendants can appeal this decision," the official added.

The opposition Pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples' Party (HDP) said in a statement the action against Ozgur Gundem was "unacceptable".

"This decision is clearly a violation of the people's right to news and against freedom of expression and thought."

Since the July 15 attempted coup, more than 130 media outlets have been shut down.

On July 27, 45 newspapers and 16 television stations were ordered to close, the official gazette said, prompting concern among Western leaders and press freedom organisations.

Also on Tuesday, the New York-based Human Rights Foundation (HRF) urged the United Nations to look into "credible allegations of gross human rights violations in Turkey" following the failed coup aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

HRF said Turkish journalists faced "constant threats and retribution for their work, and are often harassed and prosecuted under criminal laws designed to stifle government criticism".



Turkey police raid companies with alleged links to Gulen: report

‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎4:25:03 AMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Aug 16, 2016 - Turkish police on Tuesday raided dozens of companies in Istanbul in search of 120 suspects wanted after last month's botched coup attempt, state media reported.

Police carried out simultaneous raids on 44 businesses including a holding firm in the Uskudar and Umraniye districts on the Asian side of Istanbul, the Anadolu news agency reported.

The suspects are accused of financing the activities of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who is blamed by authorities for orchestrating the July 15 putsch.

Prosecutors have issued arrest warrants against 120 people, including company managers, the agency added.

The companies targeted have not been named so far. It is not clear how many suspects have been detained in the raids.

Turkish authorities have undertaken a relentless crackdown on alleged Gulen supporters in the wake of the coup, detaining over 35,000 people. Almost 11,600 have since been released.

Gulen, in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, has denied the government's accusations.

Turkish police on Monday raided four major courts in Istanbul, detaining 136 of the wanted prosecutors and other judicial staff working at the courts.

Turkey's ally Azerbaijan probes Gulen supporters
Baku (AFP) Aug 15, 2016 - Turkey's ex-Soviet ally Azerbaijan on Monday said it has launched a criminal investigation into the supporters of US-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for last month's abortive coup.

"In order to prevent illegal actions on the territory of Azerbaijan by the supporters of the terrorist organisation of Fethullah Gulen, the prosecutor general has launched a criminal case," spokesman Eldar Sultanov told AFP.

He said investigators have begun "actions" on the case, without elaborating. It is unclear how many people might be prosecuted in the case.

Gulen is accused of ordering the July 15 coup during which a group within the military tried to remove President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power, a claim he strongly denies.

Azerbaijan last month shut down a private television channel over plans to broadcast an interview with Gulen, "in order to avoid provocations aimed at damaging the strategic partnership between Turkey and Azerbaijan."

Gulen's Hizmet movement has affiliated schools around the world, including in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan, normally funded by wealthy Turkish businessmen.

They insist it is an informal grouping promoting moderate islam and development, but their critics see them as a shadowy organisation with an unaccountable influence in Turkey.



One month after coup bid, Turkey transformed

‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎4:25:03 AMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Aug 14, 2016 - With a thorough shake-up of its armed forces, a reassessment of foreign policy and the biggest purge in its modern history, Turkey has undergone a transformation in the month since the July 15 coup bid.

On the surface, street life has returned to its normal bustle in Istanbul and Ankara, where terrified residents witnessed bombings by fighter jets and tanks driving amok in the streets on the night of the attempted putsch.

But the huge red Turkish flags hanging from public buildings, billboards hailing the coup's defeat and pictures in metro stations of the "martyrs" killed are all reminders that life is not the same as it was before the events which began at around 1900 GMT on July 15.

The plotters, whom Ankara says were directed by the mysterious US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, sought to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power and impose a military regime.

Instead, they were arrested en-masse, giving the president a chance to drive through some of the most significant changes in this country of 79 million since the foundation in 1923 of the modern Turkish Republic out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

- At a strategic crossroads -

The authorities say the coup was driven by rogue Gulen loyalists within the military, which has been a pillar of the Republic since its foundation, and almost one half of its contingent of generals have since been detained and fired.

Erdogan has moved to bring the general staff and other military departments directly under his control and that of his government in a historic "civilianisation" of an institution that had previously ousted governments three times by means of a coup.

"A revolutionary civilianisation process has been spearheaded by the government with the aim of further decreasing the scope of the military in politics and society," Metin Gurcan and Megan Gisclon wrote in a paper for the Istanbul Policy Centre (IPC).

They said the authorities could now choose between continuing the reforms in a democratic way or subduing the military without consultation.

"A strategic turning point is now before Turkey."

So far untouched by the shake-up is the powerful National Intelligence Agency (MIT), which has faced vehement criticism for failing to warn Erdogan about the coup. But the government has vowed it will also undergo restructuring.

- 'Test to rebuild' -

The scale of the general crackdown after the coup has prompted accusations from the West of a witch-hunt. But Turkish officials say it points to the extent to which Gulen had penetrated all state institutions.

Over 76,000 people have been dismissed from their jobs, mostly in the education sector where Gulen's influence was greatest and a total of over 35,000 people detained.

Ankara has swatted back the criticism of the West, angrily accusing it of failing to show solidarity in Turkey's time of need and with pro-government media speculating that the United States even had a hand in the plot.

Washington and Ankara could be heading for a collision course over Gulen, whom Turkey wants to see extradited from his secluded compound in Pennsylvania in a potentially fraught process.

Meanwhile, Turkey's bid to join the EU that dates back to the 1960s is enduring its worst crisis in years as controversy simmers over the crackdown that prompted Austria to break a years-long taboo and call for accession talks to be stopped.

"The failed coup wasn't in any way a test that the EU or US failed.... The 'test' is for Turkey to rebuild itself as best it can," said Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Ankara and visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe.

"West-bashing won't help Turkey return to normalcy. It will just complicate matters."

Erdogan's popularity has surged in opinion polls and he has brought two opposition parties into talks on constitutional reforms -- but has excluded the main Kurdish political force whom he accuses of links to militants.

- 'Reset with Russia' -

The pro-Western tilt of Turkey -- a NATO member since 1952 -- has been the cornerstone of its foreign policy ever since it troubled the Allies by staying neutral for almost all of World War II.

In late June, Turkey moved to overcome a months-long diplomatic crisis caused by the shooting-down of a Russian war plane, and Erdogan's first foreign visit after the coup was to meet President Vladimir Putin, raising fears that Ankara could be re-orientating its stance.

The Turkish leader, who had earlier castigated the West's response to the coup, thanked Putin for expressing support so quickly and declared cooperation on key projects like a Black Sea gas pipeline was back on track.

"In contrast to Western leaders, Putin is using the occasion to reset Russian-Turkish relations," said Kemal Kirisci of the Brookings Institution.

But he said that with 44 percent of Turkish exports going to the EU in 2014 and 4 percent to Russia, the "bloc is still Turkey's economic lifeline."



Anti-Americanism surges in Turkey after coup

‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎4:25:03 AMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Aug 12, 2016 - The charge list against the United States within Turkey over last month's failed coup is long and, for some, damning.

The government says the United States is hosting the mastermind of the plot to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while voices in the media and wider society suggest Washington wanted the putsch to succeed and even end with the Turkish strongman dead.

With people of all political stripes seeing an American hand in the July 15 putsch, anti-American sentiment has reached levels rarely seen before.

The authorities have whipped up popular anger over the hosting by the United States of Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for the coup, and its failure so far to extradite him to face trial back home.

And Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag has warned it is up to Washington to extradite Gulen to prevent "anti-US feeling" turning into "hate".

Yet analysts warn that exploiting such anti-American sentiment is a risky ploy for the government, given that Washington remains Turkey's key Western ally and a pillar of its foreign policy strategy.

With anti-US conspiracy theories becoming ever more elaborate, the US embassy in Ankara explicitly rebutted any suggestion that Washington had a hand in the coup and wanted it to succeed.

Earlier this month, Ambassador John Bass told Turkish journalists he was "deeply disturbed and offended by the accusations, without a shred of fact, that the US government was involved in this illegal coup attempt."

Four days after the attempted coup, the influential editor-in-chief of the pro-government Yeni Safak daily Ibrahim Karagul wrote wrote a column saying the United States had planned the coup and wanted to kill Erdogan.

"The US administration planned a coup in Turkey through the Gulen terror organisation and tried to cause a civil war," said Karagul who frequently travels with Erdogan on trips abroad, most recently to Russia.

- 'Turkey gets hurt' -

Anti-Americanism at a popular and political level is nothing new. In 2003, the Turkish parliament hugely disappointed Washington by rejecting a request that foreign troops be allowed to use Turkish territory for the invasion of Iraq.

Yet claims that Washington is not being upfront about what it knew about the coup are not restricted to radical conservatives but held by wide swathes of society.

"The United States just thinks about its own interests. And it's Turkey who suffers," said Cihan, a young resident of Istanbul.

Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who heads the Edam think tank in Istanbul, said a "large majority of the Turkish population thinks that the United States are behind the attempted putsch", with the same idea perpetuated in the press.

Gulen's continued presence in the United States, where he has been living since 1999 in self-imposed exile inside a secluded compound in Pennsylvania, is the key cause of contention.

- 'Politically, it works' -

From Ankara's perspective, by allowing him to stay, Washington is effectively giving refuge to a "terrorist" who sought to usurp the democratically-elected authorities in Turkey by force.

Ankara says Gulen runs the Fethullah Terror Group (FETO) but the preacher has repeatedly insisted he played no role in the coup.

Bayram Balci, of Sciences Po in Paris, said Erdogan wanted to expose the United States as supporters of a "terrorist movement" -- not just of Gulen's group but also of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey's southeast.

In recent months, Turkey has been incensed by the level of cooperation between Washington and and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a militia group which Ankara claims is the Syrian arm of the PKK.

"A certain anti-Americanism will develop in Turkey," explained Balci, saying Erdogan wanted it in order to consolidate his own public position.

"Anti-Americanism brings benefits in all countries. It works politically."

- 'Could backfire' -

In his starkest warning yet, Erdogan said late Wednesday that Washington must either choose "the coup-plotting, terrorist FETO or the democratic country of Turkey."

Ulgen said such rhetoric was understandable in the context of the emotional shock Turkey had sustained, but Ankara needed to "begin to calm things down as this anti-Americanism will hurt Turkey itself."

"The most dangerous thing is if this anti-Americanism spreads its roots into Turkish society. This could put in danger Turkey's membership in the Trans-Atlantic community."

He said a second stage of the standoff could be much cooler, with the US examining the extradition request for Gulen in a long drawn-out process and this "burning anti-Americanism put on the backburner".



Turkey seeks arrest of football hero in coup probe

‎Thursday, ‎August ‎18, ‎2016, ‏‎4:25:03 AMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Aug 12, 2016 - Turkey issued an arrest warrant for its former star footballer Hakan Sukur over last month's failed coup as Ankara said Friday it had detected the first progress in persuading the United States to extradite the alleged mastermind of the putsch.

With the shockwaves from the July 15 coup aimed at unseating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shaking Turkey four weeks later, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said 32 diplomats recalled to Ankara were still missing.

Turkey has blamed the coup on the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen. Cavusoglu said Friday he had seen the first positive signs Washington could extradite him.

Prosecutors in Sakarya province east of Istanbul have charged Sukur with "membership of an armed terror group", the state-run Anadolu agency said, referring to what Ankara calls the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO).

Gulen denies such a group exists and has rubbished accusations that he masterminded the coup.

A warrant on identical charges was also issued for Hasan Sukur's father, Selmet Sukur, and he was later detained after emerging from Friday prayers at a mosque in Adapazari, the main town in Sakarya province.

In another measure against the Sukur family, a court ordered the seizure of assets of the father and the son, including several properties and villas in Istanbul and the Aegean, the Dogan news agency said.

- 'Fastest World Cup goal' -

The former striker is believed to be in the United States and Turkish media said an Interpol Red Notice would be requested for extradition.

Sukur was one of the stars of Turkey's third-place performance in the 2002 World Cup and a household name in the football-mad country.

With a career stretching from 1987 to 2007, Sukur is by far the most prolific goalscorer in the history of the Turkish national side, finding the net 51 times in 112 appearances.

He was a stalwart for Istanbul side Galatasaray but also had stints abroad for Inter Milan, Parma and Blackburn Rovers.

His goal after just 11 seconds of play against South Korea in 2002 remains the fastest goal in World Cup history.

After football, Sukur went into politics and was elected an MP with Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2011.

But he resigned in 2013 after a vast corruption probe that targeted Erdogan and his inner circle, siding with the movement of Erdogan's arch-foe Gulen.

Sukur had voiced objections to the government move to shut down schools run by Gulen's movement. He had gone on trial in absentia in June on charges of insulting Erdogan on social media.

- 'Some positive signals' -

He is not the only Turkish sports star caught up in the controversy after the coup bid.

The family of Enes Kanter, one of the most prominent Turkish basketball players in the NBA, disowned him after he openly supported Gulen after the coup.

Turkey has repeatedly pressed Washington to extradite Gulen and has expressed exasperation at what it has seen as the slow US response to the requests.

But Cavusoglu for the first time said Friday Ankara had started to receive "some positive signals" from Washington over his extradition.

Further documents relating to the case for his deportation were being drawn up to send to Washington, he said.

Writing in Saturday's edition of French daily Le Monde, Gulen called for an international inquiry into the failed coup, vowing his "full cooperation" with any such probe.

He did not exclude that some supporters could have been involved in the coup but said this "cannot be blamed on all followers of the movement."

Erdogan has vowed to eradicate what he calls the "virus" of Gulen from life in Turkey and the authorities have embarked on a relentless crackdown that has caused concern abroad.

According to Turkish officials over 35,000 people have been detained since the coup attempt that left 240 dead excluding the plotters.

Almost 11,600 of these suspects have since been released but the rest are in jail facing trial or custody hearings.

Cavusoglu added 32 Turkish diplomats were still at large despite being recalled by Ankara following the coup and also confirmed a Turkish rear admiral had gone missing in the United States in July.





Japan's ageing emperor hints at abdication

‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:12:04 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 8, 2016 - Emperor Akihito said Monday his advancing age and weakening health mean he may no longer be able to carry out his duties, setting the stage for Japan to prepare for an historic abdication.

"There are times when I feel various constraints such as in my physical fitness," the 82-year-old said in a national address.

"As we are in the midst of a rapidly ageing society, I would like to talk to you today about what would be a desirable role of the emperor in a time when the emperor, too, becomes advanced in age," he said.

Speculation about Akihito's future emerged last month with reports he had told confidantes that he would like to step down in a few years, in what would be the first abdication from the Chrysanthemum Throne in two centuries.

"I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the state with my whole being as I have done until now," he said, wearing a dark suit and sitting at a table in the pre-recorded video.

Akihito spoke obliquely -- never mentioning the word abdication and stressing he is legally prevented from commenting on the imperial system -- but analysts and media said his intention was clear.

"His majesty the emperor hints at abdication", read a two-page extra edition by the top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun daily.

The comments will now allow the government to begin creating the legal mechanism for a royal departure, which currently does not exist.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a swift response, said the government would take his remarks "seriously".

"Considering the emperor's duties, as well as his age and the burden (of the job), we have to firmly look at what we can do," he said.

Tomitaro Hashimoto, an assistant professor at Reitaku University, said while the emperor did not use the word abdication, "his message clearly called on the public to concretely consider the way for that in the future".

"Legally, he can't request a revision of law," said Hashimoto, an expert on the imperial system. "That's why he can't ask directly."

Any eventual move by Akihito to step down, which would see him replaced by his eldest son Crown Prince Naruhito, appears to have wide support.

A survey by the Asahi Shimbun daily published Monday showed that 84 percent of people surveyed backed the idea.

- 'Sense of relief' -

Akihito has had surgery for prostate cancer and heart problems, both of which he alluded to in his address, though he stressed that he currently enjoys good health.

Public reaction to the speech was sympathetic.

"Since his majesty is getting so old, I was worried about his health, but he made his intention clear and the abdication issue came up," said 20-year-old Ryota Utsumi.

"It gives me a sense of relief," added Utsumi, who watched the address on a big screen in a busy Tokyo shopping area.

It was only the second time Akihito had spoken directly to the nation. The first was in the days after the March 2011 triple earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster as he sought to calm a nation undergoing its worst crisis since the war.

Japan's imperial house is said to be the world's oldest hereditary monarchy, and according to legend stretches back some 2,600 years in an unbroken line. It is deeply ingrained in the nation's native Shinto religion.

The speech came in a historically sensitive month. The country commemorated the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Saturday and does so again on Tuesday for Nagasaki.

And next Monday Japan pauses to recall the anniversary of its defeat in World War II under Akihito's father Hirohito, an annual event at which the emperor delivers a speech.

At last year's event Akihito expressed "deep remorse" over World War II.

He has keenly embraced the role of symbol of the state imposed after the conflict ended. Previous emperors including his father had been treated as semi-divine.

Akihito is credited with seeking reconciliation both at home and abroad over the legacy of the war fought in his father's name.

He has ventured to a number of locales that saw intense fighting, including Okinawa at home and Saipan, Palau and the Philippines abroad, offering prayers for the souls of all the dead and not just Japanese.

His life has also been characterised by a more personal openness previously unknown among Japanese royals.

His wife Empress Michiko was a commoner when they met and they chose to raise their children themselves, forgoing the traditional use of nannies.



Putin and Erdogan meet to mend ties after jet downing rift

‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:12:04 AMGo to full article
Saint Petersburg (AFP) Aug 9, 2016 - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan jets into Russia Tuesday for his first meeting with counterpart Vladimir Putin since the two strongmen leaders began healing a bitter feud over Ankara's downing of a Russian warplane.

Erdogan's visit to Putin's hometown of Saint Petersburg is also his first foreign trip since the failed coup against him last month that sparked a purge of opponents and cast a shadow over Turkey's relations with the West.

"This visit seems to me a new milestone in bilateral relations, beginning with a clean slate, and I personally, with all my heart and on behalf of the Turkish nation salute Mr Putin and all Russians," Erdogan said in an interview with Russian state media.

The shooting down of a Russian fighter jet by a Turkish F-16 over the Syrian border last November saw a furious Putin slap economic sanctions on Turkey and launch a blistering war of words with Erdogan that seemed to irrevocably damage burgeoning ties.

But in a shock reversal in late June, Putin accepted a personal expression of regret over the incident from Erdogan as an apology and immediately rolled back a ban on the sale of package holidays to Turkey and signalled Moscow would end measures against food imports and construction firms from the country.

Now in the wake of the failed July 15 coup attempt in NATO-member Turkey, ties between the two sides could be bolstered even further -- with Erdogan bluntly making it clear he feels let down by the United States and the European Union.

Putin was one of the first foreign leaders to phone Erdogan offering support and, unsurprisingly, sharing none of the scruples of EU leaders about the ensuing crackdown.

"While Turkish-Russian ties are subject to their own uncertainties, this deterioration of relations with Western powers could accelerate a Turkish-Russian rapprochement," said analysts from the European Council on Foreign Relations.

- Back to business -

Relations between Turkey and Russia -- two powers vying for influence in the strategic Black Sea region and Middle East -- have never been straightforward and their predecessor Ottoman and Russian empires fought three centuries of war.

Yet before the plane crisis, Moscow and Ankara managed to prevent disputes on Syria and Ukraine harming strategic cooperation on issues like the TurkStream gas pipeline to Europe and a Russian-built nuclear power station in Turkey.

Those projects were all put on ice with trade between the two countries falling 43 percent to $6.1 billion in January-May this year and Turkey's tourism industry seeing numbers from Russia fall by 93 percent.

Now with Russia mired in economic crisis due to Western sanctions over Ukraine and lower oil prices and Turkey's outlook flagging, both men want to get business started again.

Erdogan told Russian media that he wants to "immediately take steps" towards getting the TurkStream project -- that was to have pumped 31.5 billion cubic metres of gas a year -- going again and to finish the Akkuyu power plant.

- Friends for real? -

The earlier uptick in relations was built on a macho friendship between Putin and Erdogan, two combative leaders in their early 60s credited with restoring confidence to their nations in the wake of financial crises but also criticised for clamping down on human rights.

But after such a bitter dispute -- which saw Putin accuse Erdogan of stabbing Russia in the back and having links to the illegal oil trade with the Islamic State group -- it will take a lot for the pair to reheat ties.

"What we are going to see is a longer-lasting but more pragmatic type of relationship built not on a personal friendship or ideology but on common material interests," said Alexander Baunov, a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Russia, which is flying a bombing campaign in support of Erdogan's foe President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, transformed the balance of the Syrian civil war last September when it intervened militarily, to Turkey's consternation.

Erdogan insisted to Russian media that Assad must still go -- a position opposed by Putin -- but did say that the conflict at the heart of the falling out with Moscow could now also become the focus for renewed cooperation between the two sides.

"Russian is a main, key and very important player in establishing peace in Syria," Erdogan said in comments translated into Russian. "The problem needs to be solved with help of joint steps between Russia and Turkey."

Events in Turkey since attempted coup
Ankara (AFP) Aug 8, 2016 - Turkey held huge rallies Sunday in a show of unity with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after last month's failed coup which he says was plotted by US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Erdogan has launched a sweeping crackdown on alleged coup plotters, with more than 60,000 people from the military, judiciary, civil service and education dismissed, detained or under investigation for suspected links to the Gulen movement.

Gulen has denied the charges and the mass purge has strained Turkey's relations with its Western allies.

Here is a recap of the key events as they unfolded.

- Bloody putsch attempt -

FRIDAY, JULY 15: Around 11:00 pm, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim denounces an attempt to overthrow the government after mutinous soldiers block Istanbul bridges over the Bosphorus.

Just before midnight, a group calling itself the "Council for Peace in the Homeland" declares martial law and a curfew as its troops deploy in Istanbul and Ankara.

Erdogan calls on the nation from a seaside resort in Marmaris to oppose the coup, speaking via a FaceTime cellphone link broadcast by CNN-Turk television.

Tens of thousands of citizens respond to Erdogan's call and huge crowds confront the putschists. Bloody clashes break out between the two sides.

- Erdogan accuses Gulen -

SATURDAY, JULY 16: Erdogan flies to Istanbul where a large crowd awaits, and declares the coup plotters guilty of "treason" and accuses them of ties to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

In Pennsylvania, Gulen condemns the coup and rejects charges he orchestrated it.

Interim army chief of staff General Umit Dundar says the putsch has been defeated. Jubilant crowds pour onto the streets of Istanbul to show support for Erdogan, who demands that the US expel Gulen.

- Return of death penalty? -

SUNDAY, JULY 17: Erdogan vows to crack down on Gulen backers and "to clean the virus from all state bodies", while urging supporters to remain in the streets.

He suggests Turkey might reinstate the death penalty, which was officially abolished in 2004.

- Western warnings -

MONDAY, JULY 18: The European Union, NATO, and the United States warn Turkey to respect the rule of law after the start of a massive crackdown on suspected plotters.

European leaders warn that reinstating capital punishment would end Turkey's hopes of joining the EU.

- Purge spreads -

TUESDAY, JULY 19: A purge that began with rebel army units and officers quickly spreads to all sectors suspected of being infiltrated by Gulen supporters, including the justice and education ministries and religious organisations.

Licences are scrapped for television and radio stations linked to Gulen.

A spokesman for US President Barack Obama says he is "willing to provide appropriate assistance to Turkish authorities investigating the attempted coup".

Secretary of State John Kerry adds Turkey must send "evidence, not allegations" in its demand for Gulen's extradition.

- State of emergency -

JULY 20: Erdogan returns to Ankara for the first time since the attempted coup, and shortly before midnight declares a three-month state of emergency.

JULY 23: Erdogan's cabinet decrees that police can now hold suspects for one month without charge. Turkey disbands the elite presidential guard after detaining almost 300 of its members.

JULY 24: Thousands of Turks, including Erdogan's ruling Islamic-conservatives and the opposition secular camps, gather in Istanbul for the first cross-party rally to condemn the coup attempt.

- Tightens grip on army -

JULY 28: Turkey reshuffles key military commanders, sacking almost half of its generals.

JULY 29: Authorities detain three top tycoons as part of investigations into Gulen's activities.

JULY 30: Erdogan says he wants to introduce constitutional changes to bring the spy agency and military chief of staff directly under his control.

- Show of support -

JULY 31: Tens of thousands of Erdogan supporters rally in the German city of Cologne.

AUGUST 2: Erdogan accuses Western countries of supporting "terror" and the coup plotters, saying the failed putsch was a "scenario written from outside".

AUGUST 4: An Istanbul court issues an arrest warrant for Gulen.

AUGUST 7: Mass rallies mark the end of the daily protests held in a show of unity against the coup plotters.



Uncertain future for landmark Istanbul military school

‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:12:04 AMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Aug 8, 2016 - With its twin pointed towers and brilliant white facade stretching along the Bosphorus, the Kuleli Military High School is one of the most striking late Ottoman sights in Istanbul, a symbol of power and continuity.

Yet after over one and a half centuries of use, the future of the famed building -- designed by a great Ottoman Armenian architect --is in doubt after it played an important role in the failed coup aimed at unseating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

After several officers working at the school were implicated in the July 15 coup attempt, the school will not continue in its current form, as the authorities seek to flush out all influence of the Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for the putsch.

Turkey last month released from jail 62 students at Kuleli -- believed to be teenagers unwittingly caught up in the failed putsch and used by their superiors.

Turkish state media had quoted the students as saying they were told an operation was under way on July 15 without having any idea of what it was.

"We learnt the true face of what happened after police came in the morning to get hold of us," one student Ali Akdogan told the Anadolu news agency. "We were deceived."

- 'Etched in Istanbul's memory'-

The government has issued a decree closing military high schools in the wake of the coup, so the future for Kuleli is unclear, with options mooted including a museum of democracy or even a luxury hotel -- an idea which has appalled traditionalists.

Tayfun Kahraman, head of the Istanbul City Planners' Chamber, described the building as "iconic and etched in the memory of Istanbul."

"In the future uses of the building, the same memory must be protected," he told AFP.

He said the Kuleli school -- which as well as its famous building also boasts vast parklands -- should open to public with a green space concept like the Luxembourg Gardens.

"There are many examples in Europe: Take for example, the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. It is a palace garden but in its current form, it is open to public," Kahraman added.

The Luxembourg Gardens, or Jardin du Luxembourg in French, is one of the oldest gardens in Paris dating back to the 17th century, and home to a palace harbouring the Senate as well as a museum open to public.

"The same could apply to the Kuleli military school with its forested area when Istanbul's need for green spots are so obvious," Kahraman said.

Situated on the Asian side of the Bosphorus in the Istanbul suburb of Cengelkoy near the first bridge, the school's facade -- spectacularly lit at night -- wows tourists on cruises even if few are aware of its history.

- 'Cultural heritage'-

The school was designed by Ottoman Armenian architect Garabet Balyan who left an extraordinary architectural legacy in the city, including the Dolmabahce Palace of the late Ottoman Sultans.

The barracks were transformed into a hospital during the notorious Ottoman-Russian wars in 1877-1878.

The building was used by the British when Istanbul was occupied in 1920 and later given to the Armenian community at the end of World War I to be used as a dormitory for Armenian orphans whose families were forcibly deported during the war.

After the Turkish war of independence the building was given back to Turks under the Lausanne Treaty -- founding treaty of the republic -- and became a military school again in 1925.

There has been speculation the building -- which has a splendid view over the Bosphorus -- could be used as a hotel, an option dismissed by the government.

"For God's sake, who came up with the idea of converting the Kuleli military school building into a hotel?" Defence Minister Fikri Isik told the Hurriyet newspaper. "This is not on our government's agenda right now."

Can Atalay, a prominent lawyer, said the building could continue in its current role.

"The building had been designed as a military school and used for this purpose for over a century and a half," he told AFP.

"There's no obstacle standing in the way of the building staying as a school. The coup attempt should not be abused to gain advantages," he warned.

Fishing in front of the Kuleli building, Ahmet, in his 30s said: "I hope the building will become a museum, not a hotel. Wouldn't it be much better?"



Xi's here to stay: China leader tipped to outstay term

‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:12:04 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Aug 9, 2016 - Already China's most powerful leader in decades, President Xi Jinping will probably seek to extend his term to more than 10 years, analysts say, the first Communist Party chief to do so since Deng Xiaoping.

The ruling party's leaders have reportedly gathered at their secretive annual Beidaihe retreat on the northern Chinese coast, where discussions are expected to focus on the composition of its next all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee (PSC).

The 19th Party Congress, slated for next year, will decide a new PSC line-up, traditionally seen as indicating Xi's most likely successor after he steps down, due in 2022.

But Xi has thus far delayed anointing an heir. And while Chinese Communist leaders have often maintained influence after their official retirement, scholars and analysts increasingly believe Xi will try to stay in office beyond his standard term.

"A lot of analysts now see it as a given" that Xi will seek to stay party general secretary, the country's most powerful post, said Christopher K. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and now China specialist at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Willy Lam, expert on politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said there was a 60 to 70 percent chance that Xi would refuse to give up the role.

Doing so would violate the unofficial rule set by Deng Xiaoping, who led China from 1978-1989, that general secretaries stay in office no longer than 10 years. That principle has helped smooth transfers of power within the party since the 1990s.

As well as ensuring regular renewal at the top, and opportunities for different Communist Party factions to dominate at different times, the concept also seeks to prevent the emergence of a despot.

- 'No heir apparent' -

China's constitution sets term limits for presidents and ministers, but there is no such rule for the party secretary.

Analysts say if Xi's close ally Wang Qishan, a PSC cadre who is due to retire, is allowed a second term it could establish a precedent for the party chief.

Xi has made his enduring ambition clear by installing himself as chairman of most of the powerful new groups within the party, said Victor Shih, professor at the University of California, San Diego.

Doing so "increases the threshold for anyone to replace him," he told AFP. "Moreover, there is no heir apparent now."

Xi has already smashed several unwritten party rules since ascending to general secretary in 2012, Johnson noted.

His anti-corruption drive felled the once hugely powerful security chief Zhou Yongkang, breaking the tacit understanding that former top leaders were immune to such campaigns -- and giving him an incentive to stay in power.

More time as president could allow Xi to follow through on long-promised reforms and bolster his more assertive foreign policy in the South China Sea, experts say.

Xi's allies could argue a longer term would let him pursue his ambitious targets of national rejuvenation and doubling 2010 per capita income by 2020, in time for the 100th anniversary of the party's founding.

- Modelled on Putin -

Xi has already reduced the strongest potential source of challenges by establishing his grip over the military and police, Lam said.

The Party last week imposed tighter controls on the Communist Youth League, a key power base of Xi's rivals which has produced some of the country's top leaders, including former president Hu Jintao as well as premier Li Keqiang.

Analysts say Xi sees an enviable model in Russia's Vladimir Putin, who has successfully kept power for well over a decade by bouncing between the offices of president and prime minister.

"Like his good friend Putin, (Xi) wants to have more than two terms in power," said Lam.

But while Xi has openly admitted he admires Putin, following his example presents challenges, said Bo Zhiyue, professor of Chinese politics at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.

"Putin can switch his positions without losing his power, but in Chinese politics that's not possible," he told AFP, adding that staying on as general secretary but not retaining the presidency would make Xi a "less powerful leader".

And the collapse of Russia's own Communist predecessor, the Soviet Union -- something Xi sees as anathema -- itself holds warnings for the Chinese leader, said the University of California's Shih.

In Moscow, a series of increasingly geriatric leaders held power until their deaths, he pointed out, which was "partly responsible for the sclerosis in late Soviet politics".





Japan summons Chinese envoy amid ship 'incursions'

‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:12:04 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 9, 2016 - Japan summoned China's ambassador Tuesday after the country's ships were spotted near disputed East China Sea islands for a fifth straight day.

Foreign minister Fumio Kishida called in Cheng Yonghua, Beijing's envoy to Tokyo, the foreign ministry said -- the second such summons since Friday.

"The situation surrounding the Japan-China relationship is markedly deteriorating," he told Cheng, according to the ministry's statement on its website.

"We cannot accept that (China) is taking actions that unilaterally raise tensions."

The two countries are locked in a long-running dispute over the uninhabited islets known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

The move comes after repeated protests by Japanese foreign ministry officials since Friday over what Tokyo calls "intrusions" by Chinese ships in the territorial and contiguous waters of the rocky islands.

Cheng was also summoned on Friday by vice minister Shinsuke Sugiyama after two Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels entered Japan's territorial waters.

On Tuesday morning, the Japan Coast Guard said it spotted Chinese ships in the country's territorial waters surrounding the islands and about a dozen others nearby.

The Japanese coastguard a day before caught sight of 15 Chinese coast guard ships near the islands -- the highest number ever spotted.

Some 230 Chinese fishing vessels and seven coast guard ships, including four apparently carrying weapons, sailed into waters close to the disputed island on Sunday.

It is rare for so many Chinese fishing vessels to be seen in the disputed waters.

Tensions over the islands have been a frequent irritant and have strained bilateral relations, though tensions had markedly relaxed over the past two years as two sides took steps to ease the pressure through dialogue.

But the fundamental divide over the islands remains unresolved.

Japan's Kyodo News reported Monday that Japan wants "high-level" talks with China over the incursions as they have not stopped despite Tokyo's protests.

Citing a government source, it said that Japan wants to bring up the issue in talks between the country's leaders and foreign ministers.

Japan protested in June after it said a Chinese navy frigate sailed close to territorial waters near the islands for the first time.



Japan spots 230 Chinese fishing boats off disputed islets

‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:12:04 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 6, 2016 - Some 230 Chinese fishing vessels and seven coast guard ships, including four apparently carrying weapons, sailed into waters close to disputed East China Sea islands on Saturday, Japan's foreign ministry and coastguard said.

Six Chinese coast guard ships were spotted earlier in the day and late Saturday afternoon Japanese officials said they spotted another, which seemed to be carrying arms, in the contiguous waters of the uninhabited islands.

The two countries are locked in a long-running dispute over the rocky islets -- known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China -- but it is rare for so many Chinese fishing vessels to be spotted in the disputed waters.

"We cannot be sure about what the Chinese coast guards are doing for what purposes in the waters," a Japanese coast guard official told AFP.

The 230 fishing vessels and seven coast guard boats remained in the area nine hours after they were first spotted, he added.

The fishing vessels appeared to be engaged in operation, he said.

After catching sight of the coast guard ships in the contiguous waters at 8:05 am (2305 GMT, Friday), the Japanese foreign ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau lodged a strong protest with the Chinese embassy in Tokyo, it said.

The foreign ministry, which also submitted a protest through its embassy in Beijing, demanded the vessels leave the disputed waters immediately and "never enter Japan's territorial waters", the ministry said in a statement.

"Japan can never accept activities by (Chinese) official vessels near the Senkaku islands, because it will unilaterally escalate the situation and raise tensions in the area," it said.

Saturday's protest came a day after Japanese vice foreign minister Shinsuke Sugiyama summoned Cheng Yonghua, Beijing's ambassador to Tokyo, to protest over intrusions into its territorial waters by Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels on Friday afternoon.

Tensions over the islands have seriously harmed bilateral relations.

The two sides have gradually taken steps to ease tensions through dialogue but the fundamental divide over the islands remains unresolved and tensions occasionally flare up.

Japan also lodged a protest in June after it said a Chinese navy frigate sailed close to territorial waters near the islands for the first time.



China must prepare for 'people's war at sea': minister

‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:12:04 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Aug 2, 2016 - China's Defence Minister has urged preparations for a "people's war at sea" to counter offshore security threats and safeguard sovereignty, state media reported Tuesday.

Chang Wanquan's comments came several weeks after an international tribunal dismissed the country's claim to most of the South China Sea, a judgement it angrily rejected.

Chang "called for recognition of the seriousness of the national security situation, especially the threat from the sea", Xinhua news agency said.

The military, police and people should prepare to mobilise to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, he was quoted as saying during a tour of the coastal province of Zhejiang.

The agency did not say what day he was speaking or elaborate further.

Several Asian states have counter-claims in the South China Sea, where China has reclaimed reefs and islets to build airstrips and other major facilities.

The United States says it will continue naval patrols close to the reefs and outcrops to assert the principle of freedom of navigation, a move which has angered Beijing.

Ealier Tuesday China announced penalties for "illegal" fishing in its waters, including disputed areas.

The Supreme Court defined penalties for boats operating in "sovereign" areas including the South China Sea, in what appears to be an attempt to strengthen Chinese governance of the waters.

The question of who has the rights to fish in the disputed Sea has been a major bone of contention between Beijing and Manila, which brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

Beijing and Jakarta have also clashed over maritime rights, with Beijing claiming "historic" fishing grounds close to Indonesia's Natuna Islands.

The new regulations outline penalties for both Chinese and "foreign" fishermen operating "illegally" in Chinese waters, including its "exclusive economic zone" (EEZ), a 200-nautical mile region surrounding a country's territory.

The UN-backed tribunal denied China's claims to an EEZ in the Spratly Islands, where the Chinese coastguard regularly expels fishing vessels from the Philippines.

Beijing refused to accept the ruling, saying the court had no jurisdiction.

Those boats that "illegally enter" Chinese waters more than once in a year or refuse to leave the waters will be subject to fines and up to a year in jail, a posting on the court's website said.

It also established penalties for harvesting coral and giant clams, as well as other endangered species.

Any foreigners who believe that Beijing has violated their rights are welcome to take their claims to Chinese courts, the ruling said.

China also has maritime disputes with a number of other countries, including Japan and Vietnam.

Beijing risks triggering unintended conflict with Asian rivals through its aggressive stance in maritime disputes, Japan warned Tuesday in an annual security assessment.



Trump's economic plan

‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:12:04 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Aug 8, 2016 - Donald Trump on Monday laid out his plan to lower taxes, freeze financial regulations and trigger an energy revival which he said would spur economic growth and "open a new chapter in American prosperity."

It was a broad-brush outline with some meaty specifics, aimed in part at reviving the Republican presidential nominee's flagging campaign after a series of missteps in recent weeks that sent him careening off message.

Here are highlights of the Trump economic plan.

- Lower taxes -

The lynchpin of Trump's plan is the slashing of various taxes on American individuals and corporations, a proposal he said would lead to the biggest tax reform since president Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

He would sharply reduce corporate tax to 15 percent from the current 35 percent, and set a 10 percent tax on what he described as trillions of dollars that US businesses have "now parked overseas" but want to repatriate into the country.

Personal income tax rates would be compressed from seven brackets to just three, with today's highest rate of 39.6 percent shrinking to 33 percent.

He would also abolish the estate tax, and said he would allow parents to "fully deduct" the cost of childcare spending from their taxes.

- Moratorium on regulations -

Trump would immediately slap a moratorium on all federal agency regulations that he believes are needlessly killing jobs. He said he would "cut regulations massively."

Already on the chopping block would be the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, which forces investment in renewable energy at the expense of coal and natural gas, and the Interior Department's moratorium on coal mining permits.

He would also repeal President Barack Obama's landmark health care law.

- Trade reform -

Trump is opposed to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership backed by Obama and Republican congressional leaders. It was signed by his administration and 11 other nations in 2015, but hit a snag in Congress.

He wants to abolish the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico that was signed into law in 1994, describing it as a pact that has "shipped your jobs to Mexico and other countries."

Trump reiterated his support for strengthened protections against currency manipulation that allow other countries to "cheat by unfairly subsidizing their goods."

China, warned Trump, "is responsible for nearly half of our entire trade deficit." He said he would go after Beijing for its "rampant" theft of intellectual property, its dumping of Chinese products on the US market and currency manipulation.

- Energy revival -

Trump called for an "energy revolution," starting with cancellation of Obama's climate plan and the Paris Climate Agreement, and a halt of US payments to United Nations global warming programs.

He would also expand offshore drilling, increase natural gas production, and reverse what he called Obama's "war on coal" that led to the loss of thousands of energy industry jobs.

He would call on Canadian firm TransCanada to renew its permit application for building Keystone XL, the crude oil pipeline between Canada and US oil refineries rejected by the Obama administration last year.



China installs radar in disputed waters: Japanese media

‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:12:04 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 7, 2016 - China has installed a radar with potential military functions in a disputed area of the East China Sea, Japanese media said Sunday, in the latest flare-up of tensions between the two countries.

The Japanese foreign ministry said China had placed a surface search radar and surveillance camera on one of its structures in a gasfield which is claimed by both countries, the Nikkei business daily reported.

The ministry on Friday complained to Beijing through diplomatic channels, the newspaper reported.

The paper said it was the first radar unit known to have been installed on any of the Chinese structures in the area, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits.

Tokyo is analysing the radar's capability and is concerned that Beijing could be intending to strengthen its military power in the East China Sea.

The foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

Japan and China agreed in 2008 to jointly develop the undersea reserves in the disputed area, with a ban on unilateral drilling.

But negotiations stalled and Tokyo suspects China has some drilling rigs in operation near its de facto maritime border with Japan.

On Sunday Tokyo separately protested to Beijing after two Chinese ships entered Japanese waters near disputed islands also in the East China Sea.

Japan's government said the two Chinese coastguard ships were sailing some 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of one of the Senkaku islands, known as the Diaoyus in Chinese, on Sunday morning.

"The intrusion violates our country's sovereignty and is completely unacceptable," Japanese vice foreign minister Shinsuke Sugiyama told Cheng Yonghua, Beijing's ambassador to Tokyo, by phone, according to a government statement.

The two vessels left the waters later in the day, the Japanese coastguard said.

On Saturday Japanese maritime officials reported seeing some 230 Chinese fishing vessels and seven coastguard ships, including four apparently carrying weapons, sailing into the same waters.



Turkey ruling party orders purge after coup attempt

‎Tuesday, ‎August ‎9, ‎2016, ‏‎8:12:04 AMGo to full article
Istanbul (AFP) Aug 6, 2016 - Turkey's ruling party on Friday ordered a purge from its ranks of supporters of US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, accused of plotting last month's failed coup.

The "urgent clean-up in the party organisation" was aimed at expelling those linked with the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation, as Ankara calls the movement blamed for the July 15 attempted putsch, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

It comes as Turkey announced a visit later this month from US Secretary of State John Kerry, which would be the first by a western diplomat since the failed effort to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.

Turkey's hardline response to the coup has escalated tensions with Europe, while the United States, where Gulen has been in self-imposed exile since 1999, has not yet confirmed the key visit by its top diplomat.

Ankara has accused Erdogan's arch-foe Gulen of running a "parallel state" and on Thursday issued a warrant for his arrest for "ordering the July 15 coup" -- which the reclusive cleric vehemently denies.

The Muslim cleric has denounced the arrest warrant as meaningless, and his lawyer told reporters in Washington Friday that Turkey did not have any evidence linking Gulen to the failed coup.

"We haven't seen any evidence, direct or indirect... a scintilla of evidence, electronic or otherwise, implicating Mr Gulen," said attorney Reid Weingarten.

Turkey has frequently called on the United States to extradite Gulen, sending documents to Washington as evidence of his alleged involvement in the putsch attempt.

But Weingarten accused Erdogan of betting on "power and politics" to make Washington grant the extradition.

"The bottom line is that the conspiracy theories and the threats of Mr Erdogan are not strong enough to overwhelm the American legal system. And for these reasons, we believe that Mr Gulen should not and will not be extradited," Weingarten said.

- Links to Kazakhstan -

Turkish authorities have implemented a relentless crackdown in the wake of the coup.

Over 60,000 people within the military, judiciary, civil service and education have been dismissed, detained or are currently under investigation for suspected links to the Gulen movement.

A German national has also been caught up in the purge, Berlin confirmed Friday.

A woman was arrested several days ago after books were found at her home suggesting she had links with the Gulen movement or was a member of it.

The German embassy in Ankara has been trying to contact the woman for several days, without success, said the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, which initially reported the arrest.

Turkey is also pressing Kazakhstan over its schools linked to Gulen, with Erdogan expressing the hope on Friday that the Central Asian country would take steps to close them.

"They (Gulenists) have 33 schools in Kazakhstan. We have delivered them the list," Erdogan told reporters in Ankara with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the first foreign head of state to visit Turkey after the failed coup.

The Kazakh leader said 90,000 students were registered at those schools.

"If there are any among them linked with terrorism... we will respond to Turkey's demand," he said.

Ankara's crackdown on the Gulen movement has also targeted journalists accused of links to the preacher.

Twelve out of 14 journalist suspects from the Zaman daily were remanded in custody, Anadolu reported on Friday, less than a week after six others were arrested.

Mumtazer Turkone, former columnist of the newspaper, was one of the journalists arrested by an Istanbul court, on charges of "serving FETO's purposes," it added.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu escalated a war of words with Austria on Friday, calling it the "capital of radical racism" after Vienna urged an end to Ankara's EU membership talks.

"Racism is an enemy of human rights and humanitarian values and the Austrian chancellor should first look at his own country," he told TGRT news channel.

"Austria is the capital of radical racism," he added.

Reacting on Twitter soon after Cavusoglu made those comments, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz urged his counterpart to "exercise restraint".

"Turkey needs to moderate its choice of words and actions," he said.








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The History of the House of Rothschild

by Andrew Hitchcock



  • Hitchcock also wrote a history for the bankers:



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The Rothschilds have been in control of the world for a very long time, their tentacles reaching into many aspects of our daily lives, as is documented in the following timeline.  However, before you jump to the timeline, please read this invaluable introduction which will tell you who the Rothschilds are as oppose to who they claim to be.

The Rothschilds claim that they are Jewish, when in fact they are Khazars.  They are from a country called Khazaria, which occupied the land locked between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea which is now predominantly occupied by Georgia.  The reason the Rothschilds claim to be Jewish is that the Khazars under the instruction of the King, converted to the Jewish faith in 740 A.D., but of course that did not include converting their Asiatic Mongolian genes to the genes of the Jewish people.

You will find that approximately 90% of people in the world today who call themselves Jews are actually Khazars, or as they like to be known, Ashkenazi Jews.  These people knowingly lie to the world with their claims that the land of Israel is theirs by birthright, when in actual fact their real homeland is over 800 miles away in Georgia.

So, next time you hear an Israeli Prime Minister bleating about the so-called persecution of the Jews, consider this, every Prime Minister of Israel has been an Ashkenazi Jew.  Therefore when all these Prime Ministers have curried favour with the West for their re-establishment of a Jewish homeland, they have knowingly and deliberately lied to you, as they were never from that region, and they well know it, because it is they who call themselves Ashkenazi Jews.

The Book of Revelation, Chapter 2, Verse 9, states the following which would appear to be about these Ashkenazi Jews:

"I know thy works, and tribulation and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."
The most wealthy bloodline in the world bar none and the leader of the Ashkenazi Jews in the world today is the Rothschild family.  As you will see in the timeline, the Rothschilds have obtained this position through lies, manipulation and murder.  Their bloodline also extends into the Royal Families of Europe, and the following family names:  Astor; Bundy; Collins; duPont; Freeman; Kennedy; Morgan; Oppenheimer; Rockefeller; Sassoon; Schiff; Taft; and Van Duyn.

However, these are not the only bloodlines to worry about.  You are probably aware of the centuries old pratice undertaken by many Ashkenazi Jews whereby they would change their name, in order for them to appear part of the dominant race of the country in which they lived, so as they could obtain influential positions in that country, which they would then exploit to serve their real masters elsewhere.  There is plenty of evidence to prove the Rothschilds continue that deceptive tradition.

Furthermore the Rothschilds are known to sire many children secretly that they can put into positions of power when required.  This started with the very first man who took the name Rothschild, who had a secret sixth son.  Finally, remember the world is a diverse place, I could if I wanted change my name to Rothschild, or any of the names listed above, and that would not make me part of this family anymore than converting to Judaism in 740 A.D. will make these Ashkenazis Jewish.

Please, therefore, do not automatically assume someone you see with the name Rothschild or any of the names listed above are part of the Rothschild criminal network.  Furthermore and most importantly, the majority of Ashkenazi Jews are innocent and not part of this network.  Check the facts out for yourself first, this article is designed to inform people who the enemy is, not single out people of a particular race or people with a particular surname, who may have nothing to do with this Rothschild criminal network.

1743: Mayer Amschel Bauer, an Ashkenazi Jew, is born in Frankfurt, Germany, the son of Moses Amschel Bauer, a money lender and the proprietor of a counting house.


Moses Amschel Bauer places a red sign above the entrance door to his counting house. This sign is a red hexagram (which geometrically and numerically translates into the number 666) which under Rothschild instruction will end up on the Israeli flag some two centuries later.


1753: Gutle Schnaper, an Ashkenazi Jew (future wife of Mayer Amschel Bauer), born to respected merchant, Wolf Salomon Schnaper.

1760: During this decade Mayer Amschel Bauer works for a bank owned by the Oppenheimers' in Hanover, Germany.  He is highly successful and becomes a junior partner. Whilst working at the bank he becomes acquainted with General von Estorff.

Following his father's death, Bauer returns to Frankfurt to take over his father's business. Bauer recognises the significance of the red hexagram and changes his name from Bauer to Rothschild, after the red hexagram or sign signifying 666 hanging over the entrance door ("Rot," is German for, "Red," "Schild," is German for, "Sign").


Now Mayer Amschel Rothschild, he discovers that General von Estorff is now attached to the court of Prince William IX of Hesse-Hanau, one of the richest royal houses in Europe, which gained its' wealth by the hiring out of Hessian soldiers to foreign countries for vast profits (a practice that continues today in the form of exporting, "peacekeeping," troops throughout the world).
















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The European Union (flag pictured) is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe".

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South Sudan must sustain efforts to protect human rights, says UN official

Conflict in Darfur
Date 2003–2009 /2010


Location Darfur, Sudan
Sudan JEM factions
Bandera Darfur.svg SLM (Minnawi faction)
Sudan LJM
Allegedly supported by:
Sudan Janjaweed
Sudan Sudanese Armed Forces
Sudan Sudanese Police
Foreign Mercenaries
African Union
United Nations
Commanders and leaders
Sudan Khalil Ibrahim
Sudan Ahmed Diraige
Bandera Darfur.svg Minni Minnawi
Sudan Abdul Wahid al Nur
Sudan Omar al-Bashir
Sudan Musa Hilal
Sudan Hamid Dawai
Sudan Ali Kushayb
Sudan Ahmed Haroun
Rodolphe Adada
United Nations
Martin Luther Agwai
NRF/JEM: Unknown N/A 9,065
Casualties and losses
  • 178,258-461,520 excess deaths
  • 2,850,000 Displaced (UN estimate)
  • 450,000 Displaced (Sudanese estimate)
unknown 51 peacekeepers killed

















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