Tag Archives: world

Erdogan ‘Trying to Outdo Ataturk’: Germany’s Genocide Vote Sends Shockwaves

Germany’s Bundestag passed a resolution to recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915, at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. In response, Ankara recalled its German ambassador and Turkish President Erdogan threatened to retaliate.

Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear spoke with journalist William Whiteman about Berlin’s motivation for the vote and its potential to derail the refugee deal between Turkey and the European Union.

“You have to take into consideration the weight of the Holocaust on the German psyche,” Whiteman said. “Any kind of genocide or injustice, generally they will have a huge amount of sympathy towards it.” He suggested that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stepped lightly so as to not upset a recently brokered EU-Turkey migrant exchange deal.

“Merkel seems to have been doing some logistical maneuvering to try and avoid the vote happening, because this an incredibly sensitive issue for Turkey, they have always acted incredibly violently, in terms of their rhetoric, to anyone who moves to recognize the Armenian genocide. So, it has been a huge problem for the Merkel Administration.”Host Brian Becker commented that “the Merkel Administration positioned itself in the beginning as being welcoming and sympathetic, but since then there’s been a right-wing opposition against the influx of refugees into Germany,” and asked Whiteman about the terms of Turkey’s migrant deal with the EU.

“Human Rights Organizations have been outraged by it,” Whiteman said, adding, “The whole principle behind it is that Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees, people who are fleeing conflicts, who have managed to reach Turkey, are now being traded with people who are fleeing North Africa and the Middle East from countries where there aren’t conflicts raging. There’s been a report saying that very few refugees have actually changed hands. Essentially, this is just [an obstacle to] the flow of refugees and migrants who are attempting to cross into Europe.”

Whiteman suggested that the initial positive response in Germany to refugees has been countered by right-wing media stoking racism by painting the influx as part of an “Islamization”of Europe. Adding to this pressure, the Balkan states have closed their borders to refugees.

Becker remarked that Turkey’s Erdogan is facing political isolation after stripping parliament members of immunity, forcing out former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and suppressing journalists and anyone else who opposes him. He asked Whiteman whether Erdogan’s action will create anti-German sentiments in Turkey.

Nationalism in Turkey goes beyond Erdogan, and even the 1915 Genocide, Whiteman responded. “It goes right back to the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire,” he said.

“Even though Kemal Ataturk, the person who set up the modern Turkish Republic, was very much opposed to the Ottomans, he detested them, he had this slogan of ‘one nation, one people’ and this lead to the oppression of Kurds and others within Turkey. Languages were suppressed, everyone was supposed to speak Turkish. So the formation of the modern Turkish state is a nationalist creation essentially. So this has everything to do with nationalism and nationalist pride. Erdogan is trying to outdo Ataturk.”

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US launches airstrikes on ISIS from Mediterranean, for 1st time since Iraq War

The USS Harry Truman has begun hitting Islamic State’s targets from the Mediterranean Sea. It was the first time a carrier group has launched airstrikes from the area since the 2003 invasion in Iraq.

Fighter jets conducted combat sorties from the aircraft carrier in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on Friday after transiting the Suez Canal the day before, US Naval Forces Europe-Africa said in a statement.

“While the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is in the 6th Fleet area of operations, they continue to project power ashore against terrorists and violent extremists,” Vice Admiral James Foggo III, commander of US 6th Fleet, said in a statement.

This exemplifies our Navy’s mobility, flexibility and adaptability, as well as our commitment to execute a full range of military operations in concert with our indispensable European allies and partners.”

Friday’s airstrikes mark the first time an American carrier has hit targets on the ground from the Mediterranean since 2003, when the USS Truman was deployed in the region during the US invasion in Iraq.

The five-ship USS Truman strike group is returning from an eight-month deployment in the Persian Gulf. However, the Pentagon extended the deployment of Carrier Air Wing 7 for one more month to reduce a gap with its replacement, the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Earlier in the day, the USS Eisenhower headed to the region with around 7,000 service members on board.

“The Dwight David Eisenhower Strike Group deploys to relieve the Harry S. Truman Strike Group and will be supporting air strikes against ISIS, answering the nation’s call and stepping up the fight,” said Admiral Phil Davidson, head of Fleet Forces Command, according to Navy Times.

The aircraft carrier nicknamed “Ike” was supposed to have set sail back in November, but its departure was delayed, and the USS Truman headed out in its place. The “Ike” was undergoing repair work, which took almost two years to complete.

 

Chomsky: Obama ‘Dangerously Escalating Tensions Along the Russian Border’

In a new interview, linguist Noam Chomsky warns that US President Barack Obama’s military buildup in Eastern Europe is threatening to destabilize the region.

“He has been more reluctant to engage troops on the ground than some of his predecessors and advisers, and instead has rapidly escalated special operations and his global assassination (drone campaign), a moral disaster and arguably illegal as well,” Chomsky said during a recent interview with Truthout, referring to Obama’s foreign policy.

“On other fronts, it is a mixed story,” he adds. “Obama has continued to bar a nuclear weapons-free (technically, WMD-free) zone in the Middle East, evidently motivated by the need to protect Israeli nuclear weapons from scrutiny.”

“By so doing, he is endangering the Nonproliferation Treaty, the most important disarmament treaty, which is contingent on establishing such a zone.”

But the biggest problem may be Washington’s actions in Eastern Europe.

“He is dangerously escalating tensions along the Russian border, extending earlier policies,” Chomsky said.

The United States has spearheaded NATO’s gradual buildup in Poland and the Baltic states, citing “Russian aggression.” Upcoming military drills have been criticized by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov.

“We are convinced that these exercises carry a serious destabilizing component,” he told reporters on Thursday. “Their main goal is to continue the aggravation of tensions along the Russian borders.”

Obama’s policy on nuclear weapons is also worrying to Chomsky.

“His trillion-dollar program for modernizing the nuclear weapons system is the opposite of what should be done,” he said.

While treaties forbid the United States from expanding its nuclear arsenal, the upgrades include improved targeting systems, as well as adjustable yields, which could, in theory, make the weapons easier to use.

“These and other moves amount to a mixed story, ranging from criminal to moderate improvement,” Chomsky said.

While a new President will take office after the November elections, the philosopher doesn’t have much hope that things will change.

“Financialization has of course exploded during the neoliberal period, and the general policies, pretty much global in character, are designed to enhance private and corporate power,” he said. “That sets off a vicious cycle in which concentration of wealth leads to concentration of political power, which in turn yields legislation and administrative practices that carry the process forward.”

Intra-Syrian Talks in Geneva Likely to Continue Until March 19 – Source

An informed source at the talks told Sputnik that the current round of Intra-Syrian talks in Geneva will most likely last until Friday.

The current round of Intra-Syrian talks in Geneva will most likely last until Friday, March 19, an informed source at the talks told Sputnik on Sunday.

“Most likely, this round of Intra-Syrian talks won’t go beyond Friday, March 19, ” the source said.

A new round of talks between the Syrian opposition and the country’s government is scheduled to start on Monday, and is expected to be over by March 24.

 

Combat Missiles Heading to US Found in Passenger Aircraft in Serbia

Serbian authorities have started an investigation into reports that two air-to-surface missiles, presumably destined for the US, were found in a passenger aircraft.

According to Serbian news agency Tanjug, Air Serbia, the largest air Serbian carrier, has confirmed that an undisclosed “package” was discovered by a sniffer dog aboard a passenger aircraft, “thanks to the strict measures of security control”.

“We confirm that a package that headed towards a remote destination was found earlier this day in Belgrade airport, thanks to the strict measures of security control… The air carried assists investigation, security and reliability — are Air Serbia’s top priorities,” Tanjug cites.

Earlier in the day, Serbian media reported two combat missiles, each 1.5m long were discovered aboard the aircraft in Belgrade Nikola Tesla airport. The missiles were reportedly packaged in a wooden case and provided with documents that listed Portland, Oregon as its destination.

The missiles are presumably AGM-114 Hellfire, a universal precision missile that can be fired from ground, maritime or air platform, including predator strike drones. Each missile costs $110,000 and is capable of covering up to 8 kilometers at a speed of 1.3 Mach.

 

 

Car bombing rocks Turkish capital Ankara, 34 dead, 125 injured

A blast caused by a suicide car bombing hit the center of Ankara on Sunday evening. The explosion resulted in over a hundred casualties.

At least 34 people were killed and 125 injured in the explosion, according to the Turkish health ministry, as cited by Sputnik news agency.

The blast occurred near Guven Park in the city center.

The suicide car bomb went off at 6:43 pm local time (16:43 GMT), Turkish broadcaster TRT said.

The site of the blast is close to a courthouse and buildings housing the country’s justice and interior ministries.What appears to be CCTV cam footage was posted on YouTube that allegedly shows the moment of the explosion. A couple of buses can be seen in the video, before a passing by car slows down near them and a huge blast is seen.

Turkish authorities have announced that they will release the name of the group responsible for the deadly blast and the results of the probe into the bombing on Monday. “I believe the investigation will be concluded tomorrow and the findings will be announced,” Efkan Ala said in comments broadcast live on local TV, as quoted by Reuters.

The blast was caused by “explosive-laden vehicle,” according to Reuters citing Ankara governor’s office.

The blast appears to have been triggered by a car exploding near a bus stop, TRT said. Guven Park adjoins a major transportation hub.

It’s a car bomb, [it happened] in the heart of Ankara… and today is Sunday, many people may be outside,” Turkish journalist Onur Burcak Belli told RT by phone, adding that the scene of the blast is “very close to a shopping mall” and that “many cars are on fire and apparently a public bus is also on fire.”

I was nearby when I heard the explosion, and there were casualties all around… the numbers of dead are increasing,” an eyewitness told RT by phone, adding that “the explosion was actually bigger than the last one in Ankara.”

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

A security official said that initial findings suggest the attack was carried out by Kurdish PKK fighters or a group affiliated with them, Reuters reported.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has issued a statement condemning the attack, saying it shares “the huge pain felt along with our citizens,” AP reported. The party has been previously accused of not speaking out against PKK violence.

Images allegedly showing the aftermath of the explosion emerged on social media. A huge fire could be seen in some of them.

A large cloud of smoke rising into the dark could also be seen from the distance.

Numerous loud sirens could be heard in a Periscope transmission from the scene, in which people can be seen running by, with some screaming.

In February, 28 people were killed and 61 injured in a blast in Ankara, when a car bomb, reportedly targeting military personnel, went off close to the parliament building. Forces linked to the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia were accused of committing that terrorist attack by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

A splinter group of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), later claimed responsibility, saying the bombing had been in retaliation for Turkey’s military operation in the country’s southeast and vowing to continue its attacks.

 

Unexpected? ‘The Best Cure for Low Oil Prices are Low Oil Prices’

There is clear evidence that oil prices are stabilizing and might even begin to recover. That’s according to the latest report by the International Energy Agency.

It said that lower oil output in the United States and other countries helped to curb the glut in the oil supply on the markets. In particular, OPEC’s output fell by 90,000 barrels per day in February due to production outages in Nigeria, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

Jim Krane, expert on Mideast/OPEC and Saudi market strategy, Wallace Wilson Fellow in Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, joined Radio

Sputnik to discuss the current state of the global oil market and its prospects.

“The best cure for low oil prices are low oil prices. As people start to take advantage of discarded oil and buying a little more of it some of the inventory disappears so that seems to be a part of what is happening. At the same time the producers are no longer willing to produce oil at such low prices, they start laying people off and then production starts to drop so we see a little bit of market balancing.”

“People don’t really know what’s going to happen. There is a big question mark over production especially over shale production because the supply is so elastic. When prices recover somewhat these people who have been laid off and left the oil patch, all those guys will go back to work and shale price will increase.”

He further spoke about the Goldman report and the new source of supply in the US that doesn’t take the same kind of planning and huge investments and multiple year projects. “It is just about sending a few guys back into the field and they start producing oil again.”

The analyst spoke about the oil prices at the end of this year and what he personally thinks will happen.

“I feel that there will be some modest recovery as far as the oil prices are concerned. The longer they are low the more that stimulates demand and removes supply. If everything else remains roughly constant prices should start edging back up,” Krane said.

‘Dirty Bargain’: Turkey, EU Forge Deal With Syrian Blood on Their Hands

As the Turkish government continues its crackdown on the free press, columnist Kemal Okuyan speaks to Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear to expose how this relates to Ankara’s deal with the European Union to stem the flow of refugees.

“I have to say that this is a real dirty bargain,” Okuyan, a leading columnist with Turkish newspaper SoL, tells Loud & Clear host Brian Becker. “The refugee crisis, I think, is an outcome of the terrorist acts of NATO, Turkey, and other reactionary forces in the region.”

 https://www.spreaker.com/embed/player/standard?episode_id=7958257

According to Okuyan, Ankara is manipulating the crisis in order to achieve its own ends with the European Union.”This was on purpose, by the Turkish government,” he says. “And we know that Turkey encouraged people to go by boat through the sea to the Greek islands.

“Now they are using this to blackmail the European Union.”

As part of negotiations with the EU, Ankara wants over 3 billion euros, visa exceptions, Western ground forces in Syria, as well as the enforcement of a terrorist-free zone in neighboring Syria.

While Turkey may be taking advantage of a humanitarian crisis for its own gains, the European Union isn’t entirely innocent, either.

“The European Union is also one of the actors in the Syrian [conflict],” Okuyan says. “Especially Germany, France, Britain. They have their hands in Syria, so they are also responsible for this big human tragedy.”

While the Erdogan government may have sights on joining the EU, it could face problems due to its harsh press laws.

“Nearly three-fourths of the daily newspapers printed in Turkey are in the hands of Erdogan,” Okuyan says.

“There are a lot of journalists in prison in Turkey,” he adds. “There is also blackmailing, [where] you are not arrested, directly, but they say if you have another problem, then you will be put into prison.”

Still, as all sides use the refugee crisis for their own political gain, millions of people are suffering.

“In Turkey, the refugees are in terrible conditions,” Okuyan says. “When you see photos of people [who have] died when crossing to the Greek islands, these are not only accidents, they are killed on purpose for their money.

“They sabotage the boats.”

North Korea’s Kim says country has miniaturized nuclear warhead

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the country has miniaturized nuclear warheads to be mounted on ballistic missiles and ordered improvements in the power and precision of its arsenal, its state media reported on Wednesday.

Kim has called for his military to be prepared to mount pre-emptive attacks against the United States and South Korea and stand ready to use nuclear weapons, stepping up belligerent rhetoric after coming under new U.N. and bilateral sanctions.

U.S. and South Korean troops began large-scale military drills this week, which the North calls “nuclear war moves” and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.

Kim’s comments released on Wednesday were his first direct mention of the claim, previously made repeatedly in state media, to have successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to be mounted on a ballistic missile, which is widely questioned.

“The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them,” KCNA quoted him as saying as he inspected the work of nuclear workers, adding “this can be called true nuclear deterrent.”

“He stressed the importance of building ever more powerful, precision and miniaturized nuclear weapons and their delivery means,” KCNA said.

Kim also inspected the nuclear warheads designed for thermo-nuclear reaction, KCNA said, referring to a hydrogen bomb that the country claimed to have tested in January.

North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 claiming to have set off a miniaturized hydrogen bomb, which was disputed by many experts and the governments of South Korea and the United States. The blast detected from the test was simply too small to back up the claim, experts said at the time.

The U.N. Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions on the isolated state last week for the nuclear test. It launched a long-range rocket in February drawing international criticism and sanctions from its rival, South Korea.

On Tuesday South Korea announced further measures aimed at isolating the North by blacklisting individuals and entities that it said were linked to Pyongyang’s weapons program.

China also stepped up pressure on the North by barring one of the 31 ships on its transport ministry’s blacklist.

But a U.N. panel set up to monitor sanctions under an earlier Security Council resolution adopted in 2009 said in a report released on Tuesday that it had “serious questions about the efficacy of the current United Nations sanctions regime.”

North Korea has been “effective in evading sanctions” by continuing to engage in banned trade, “facilitated by the low level of implementation of Security Council resolutions by Member States,” the Panel of Experts said.

“The reasons are diverse, but include lack of political will, inadequate enabling legislation, lack of understanding of the resolutions and low prioritization,” it said, referring to the incomplete enforcement of sanctions.

 

 

Tennis star Sharapova ‘provisionally suspended’ after failing drug test

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Maria Sharapova speaks to the media announcing a failed drug test after the Australian Open during a press conference today at The LA Hotel Downtown.

Russian tennis superstar Maria Sharapova announced she has failed a drug test at a surprise press-conference in Los Angeles. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said Sharapova has been suspended from competition pending a probe.

“Throughout my long career I have been very open and honest about many things,” Sharapova said, adding she was informed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that the failed drug test was taken at this year’s Australian Open.

“I take great responsibility and professionalism in my job every single day, I made a huge mistake. I made a huge mistake, I let my fans down, I let the sport down that I’ve been playing since the age four,” the 28-year-old said.

The Russian explained that the positive test result was caused by the drug meldonium, which she had been legally taking for the last 10 years and was only included on the forbidden list on January 1, 2016.

I know that with this, I face consequences, and I don’t want to end my career this way. I really hope I will be given another chance,” Maria said. “I can’t blame anyone for it but myself. At the end of the day, everything you do is about you.”

Maria said that she received an email from World Ant-Doping Agency (WADA) with the list of substances forbidden in 2016 back in December, but she “didn’t look at that list.”

Sharapova added she would have never retired at a hotel with “this fairly ugly carpet.”

Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP) has issued a statement confirming that Sharapova “was charged on 2 March with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation” after testing positive for meldonium.

“As meldonium is a non-specified substance under the WADA (and, therefore, TADP) list of Prohibited Substances and Prohibited Methods, Ms. Sharapova will be provisionally suspended with effect from 12 March, pending determination of the case,” TADP said.

Maria Sharapova was born in 1987 in the town on Nyagan in Siberia’s Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region.

She has been playing tennis at the professional level since 2001, winning 35 career WTA tour titles.

Maria first became World No.1 in August of 2005 at the age of 18 and repeated the achievement four times, occupying the first spot in women’s tennis for a total of 21 weeks.

She’s the only Russian and the tenth female player ever to collect a Career Grand Slam, as she claimed the Australian Open, Wimbledon, the US Open and two French Open titles.

Sharapova won the Fed Cup with the Russian national team in 2008 and an Olympic silver medal in London in 2012.

Maria has also been at the top of Forbes’ list of wealthiest female athletes for over a decade, as her sporting achievements and good looks have helped the blond land lucrative advertising deals with top international brands.