Daily Archives: December 30, 2013

Lale Akgün : ‘Erdogan’s days are numbered’

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Turkey’s corruption scandal has put the prime minister’s party under severe pressure. Lale Akgun, a German Social Democrat (SPD) politician with Turkish roots, says Erdogan fatally underestimated the Gulen movement.

Lale Akgün

DW: What effect are the latest developments having on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan?

Lale Akgun: He’s never been as insecure as he is right now. In the past few months, Erdogan thought that, little by little, he would be able to extend his power – that he was invulnerable. I think that after the riots in Gezi Park and with the corruption accusations that have now come to light, he’s more than just vulnerable: His days are numbered.

How closely does the corruption scandal touch him personally?

Very closely indeed. His son Bilal has been summoned to appear before the public prosecutor on January 2 – not as a witness, but as a suspect, on charges of corruption and money-laundering. It’s a ticking time-bomb in Erdogan’s house.

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Two ministers have already had to step down because their sons appear to have been involved in the corruption scandal. What does this mean, then, for Erdogan?

The analogy would be that Erdogan would also have to step down. But he’s already talking about how, once again, it’s all on account of these evil forces from abroad, who are now targeting his son in order to get at him. This means that Erdogan is going to try to cling to power for a while yet. But increasingly the judiciary is defying him because he’s also trying to undermine the separation of powers. Erdogan said a week ago that, if it weren’t for them, he could govern as he sees fit. On top of all this, more and more people are abandoning the sinking ship of the AKP.

The fact that the judiciary is now investigating the allegations of corruption in Turkish government circles – does that really come down to the followers of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen?

Yes, I think so. But Gulen’s followers didn’t invent the corruption cases. People in Turkey have been saying for years that Erdogan and his immediate circle have made themselves phenomenally rich. It’s an open secret. Like most observers, I believe that Gulen’s followers have gone on the offensive now because they’re aggrieved that the movement’s schools have been closed down.

It used to be said that Erdogan’s AKP was like a bus with lots of very different people sitting in it. To begin with, there were intellectuals and leftists in there – people who believed the party would bring more democracy to Turkey. Now, though, more and more people are leaving the bus. The only ones still on board are the Milli Gorus people, and the followers of Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan thought: ‘I’ll chuck the Gulen lot off the bus myself.’ But he underestimated the power of these people. Some of them occupy key positions – and were appointed with Erdogan’s blessing.

We’re seeing a new wave of anti-Erdogan demonstrations now. The Gulen movement isn’t behind those. How strong is this sector of society, which belongs to neither of the two conservative camps?

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The third force in Turkey – as in, civil society – which genuinely does want more democracy and openness, really needs to form an organization now. But in the summer, I heard for myself how young people were saying that they didn’t see themselves as a political force: ‘We don’t want to form a party; we just want to be ‘anti.” But that’s not enough. This force – which has a lot of sympathizers – must be politically organized. If there were elections in Turkey, it would easily pass the 10-percent hurdle.

The Gezi movement is named after a park in Istanbul where citizens gathered last summer to protest against the government’s controversial construction plans. We saw at the time that all kinds of people, very different people, had taken to the streets, just as they have again over the past few days: young and old, women and men, a whole cross-section of society. Are they sufficiently in agreement to be able to found a party?

No – they’re only actually agreed on one thing: Erdogan has to go! That’s like the common denominator. And this will hold them together until Erdogan goes. My fear is that then Fethulah Gulen will present himself as a knight in shining armor and be celebrated by everyone because people think he’s the lesser evil.

The European Union has been negotiating with Turkey over EU entry for decades. How should it respond to the current situation?

The EU could be very helpful right now, in particular by supporting civil society with projects and programs, helping these people to organize so that they can become a force in politics.

Is there something the new German foreign minister, the SPD’s Frank Walter Steinmeier, could, or should, be doing?

He should – diplomatically, as befits a foreign minister – express his opinion. Because it’s not acceptable that we, as a democratic state, should just look on while the prime minister of another country – albeit, admittedly, an elected prime minister – is behaving increasingly like an autocrat.

Social Democrat Lale Akgün served as a member of the German parliament from 2002 to 2009. She was born in Istanbul.

Interview by Arnd Riekmann / cc

Akgun: ‘Erdogan’s days are numbered’ | World | DW.DE | 28.12.2013.

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Shots fired at residence of German ambassador in Athens

the German ambassador to Athens, Wolfgang Dold

ATHENS (Reuters) – Gunshots were fired at the German ambassador’s residence in Athens early on Monday, but caused no injuries or damage, police said.

At least four shots hit the outside metal gate of the residence, which lies behind a security wall on a busy street in a northern suburb of the Greek capital, police said. Investigators have collected 15 spent bullet cases so far.

The police sources said two attackers on foot were involved in the attack, which occurred at about 3.40 a.m. (0140 GMT),

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras spoke to the German ambassador to Athens, Wolfgang Dold, after the incident, a police statement said.

Anti-German rhetoric has become common among Greek opposition politicians and anti-bailout groups since the country’s international financial bailout in 2010, due to the harsh austerity policies that accompanied it.

Germany is the biggest single contributing nation to 240-billion euro financial rescue and has been pushing Athens for painful budget cuts and reforms to fix its finances.

The residence was the target of an attack in 1999, when members of the now dismantled extremist group November 17 fired a rocket that hit its roof.

German magazine claims NSA hacking unit uses powerful methods to obtain data

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A German magazine, citing internal documents, claims the NSA’s hacking unit uses James Bond-style spy gear to obtain data, including intercepting computer deliveries and outfitting them with espionage software.

Der Spiegel‘s revelations relate to a division of the NSA known as Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, which is painted as an elite team of hackers specializing in stealing data from the toughest of targets.

Citing the internal documents, the magazine said Sunday that TAO’s mission was “Getting the ungettable,” and quoted an unnamed intelligence official as saying that TAO had gathered “some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen.”

“During the middle part of the last decade, the special unit succeeded in gaining access to 258 targets in 89 countries — nearly everywhere in the world,” the report said. “In 2010, it conducted 279 operations worldwide.”

Der Spiegel said TAO had a catalog of high-tech gadgets for particularly hard-to-crack cases, including computer monitor cables specially modified to record what is being typed across the screen, USB sticks secretly fitted with radio transmitters to broadcast stolen data over the airwaves, and fake base stations intended to intercept mobile phone signals on the go.

The NSA doesn’t just rely on the Bond-style spy gear, the magazine said. Some of the attacks described by Der Spiegel exploit weaknesses in the architecture of the Internet to deliver malicious software to specific computers. Others take advantage of weaknesses in hardware or software distributed by some of the world’s leading information technology companies, including Cisco Systems, Inc. and China’s Huawei Technologies Ltd., the magazine reported.

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Der Spiegel cited a 2008 mail order catalog-style list of vulnerabilities that NSA spies could exploit from companies such as Irvine, California-based Western Digital Corp. or Round Rock, Texas-based Dell Inc. The magazine said that suggested the agency was “compromising the technology and products of American companies.”

Old-fashioned methods get a mention too. Der Spiegel said that if the NSA tracked a target ordering a new computer or other electronic accessories, TAO could tap its allies in the FBI and the CIA, intercept the hardware in transit, and take it to a secret workshop where it could be discretely fitted with espionage software before being sent on its way.

Intercepting computer equipment in such a way is among the NSA’s “most productive operations,” and has helped harvest intelligence from around the world, one document cited by Der Spiegel stated.

One of the most striking reported revelations concerned the NSA’s alleged ability to spy on Microsoft Corp.‘s crash reports, familiar to many users of the Windows operating system as the dialogue box which pops up when a game freezes or a Word document dies. The reporting system is intended to help Microsoft engineers improve their products and fix bugs, but Der Spiegel said the NSA was also sifting through the reports to help spies break into machines running Windows. One NSA document cited by the magazine appeared to poke fun at Microsoft’s expense, replacing the software giant’s standard error report message with the words: “This information may be intercepted by a foreign sigint (signals intelligence) system to gather detailed information and better exploit your machine.”

FILE PHOTO  NSA Compiles Massive Database Of Private Phone Calls

Microsoft did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment, but the company is one of several U.S. firms that have demanded more transparency from the NSA — and worked to bolster their security — in the wake of the revelations of former intelligence worker Edward Snowden, whose disclosures have ignited an international debate over privacy and surveillance.

Der Spiegel did not explicitly say where its cache NSA documents had come from, although the magazine has previously published a series of stories based on documents leaked by Snowden, and one of Snowden’s key contacts — American documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras — was listed among the article’s six authors.

No one was immediately available at Der Spiegel to clarify to The Associated Press whether Snowden was the source for the latest story.

German magazine claims NSA hacking unit uses powerful methods to obtain data | Fox News.

تفجير ارهابي ثان خلال 24 ساعة في فولغوغراد.. مقتل 15 شخص على الأقل في انفجار حافلة وبوتين يجتمع مع رئيس جهاز الأمن الفيدرالي عقب الانفجار الجديد

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قتل 15 شخص وجرح آخرون في تفجير إرهابي بحافلة في مدينة فولغوغراد جنوب روسيا هو الثاني خلال 24 ساعة. وأوضحت وزارة الطوارئ أن التفجير وقع في حافلة ركاب، وأن عدد القتلى نتيجة الهجوم بلغ 15 شخص، بالاضافة الى 15 مصابا، حسب المعلومات الأولية. وأسفر التفجير عن تدمير الحافلة بشكل شبه كامل. ووقع الهجوم بساعة الذروة الصباحية، أثناء مرور الحافلة بإحدى المناطق الأكثر ازدحاما بالمدينة في شارع يربط بين سوق شعبي ومركز تجاري. وهرعت سيارات إسعاف الى مكان الحادث لنقل المصابين للمستشفيات. وأشارت مصادر في أجهزة الأمن الى أن الانفجار هو أيضا عمل ارهابي نفذه انتحاري

يذكر أن حصيلة الهجوم الذي استهدف محطة فولغوغراد للسكك الحديدية الأحد، ارتفعت الى 17 شخصا، إضافة لإصابة العشرات واوردت انترفاكس فى خبر عاجل الان نبأ اجتماع بوتين مع رئيس جهاز الأمن الفيدرالي عقب الانفجار الجديد بفولغوغراد

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Breaking news / Trolley bus blast in Volgograd kills at least 10 in terrorist attack

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A suicide bombing in the Russian city of Volgograd has killed at least 10 passengers on a trolley bus. The explosion comes a day after a terrorist attack in the city which killed 17 people and injured scores of others.

At 15 people were injured by the blast on Monday morning. A one-year-old baby is reported to be among the victims.

The explosion was set off by a suicide bomber, spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee, Vladimir Markin, confirmed.

The bomb may have been planted in the central part of the trolley bus rather than brought in by a suicide bomber, said the National Antiterrorist Committee.

The bus was near one of the city markets when the explosion happened. The site has been cordoned off, with traffic diverted to other streets.

The blast wave was powerful enough to shatter some windows in nearby buildings.

The Emergencies Ministry said it is preparing a new flight from Moscow to Volgograd with medical equipment and personnel for possible transportation of the blast victims to the capital.

The new deaths in Volgograd come just a day after a suicide bomber targeted the city’s railway station, killing 14 people on the spot and injuring more than 30 others. Three of those injured succumbed to their wounds in hospital.

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And in October the city witnessed yet another terrorist attack, when a suicide attacker set off an explosion in a bus heading to Moscow, killing 6 people and injuring almost 40.

Trolley bus blast in Volgograd kills at least 10 in terrorist attack — RT News.