Turkey: Erdogan talks to Kurds.Walter Russell Mead: 'It’s all very messy and complicated, but a settlement with the PKK would bring big advantages to Turkey—not least an end to the guerrilla war in the southeast, which has drained a lot of blood and treasure and hampers Turkey’s efforts to exert influence in the region.'
Space: Giant leaps for private space travel.Space.com: 'Of the many spacecraft being developed only one has already flown in space, the Dragon capsule built by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in Hawthorne, Calif.The unmanned cargo ship has flown in space three times so far, and carried supplies to the International Space Station twice in 2012 — first in May during a test and then again October. ...' But there's lots more in the works. Full article at the link.
Commentary: Scary times - VDH.
There is no historical appreciation among the new progressive technocracy that central state planning, whether the toxic communist brand or supposedly benevolent socialism, has only left millions of corpses in its wake, or abject poverty and misery. Add up the Soviet Union and Mao’s China and the sum is 80 million murdered or starved to death. Add up North Korea, Cuba, and the former Eastern Europe, and the tally is egalitarian poverty and hopelessness. The EU sacrificed democratic institutions for coerced utopianism and still failed, leaving its Mediterranean shore bankrupt and despondent.
Nor is there much philosophical worry that giving people massive subsidies destroys individualism, the work ethic, and the personal sense of accomplishment. There is rarely worry expressed that a profligate nation that borrows from others abroad and those not born has no moral compass. ...
Turkey: Syrian artillery kills three.Stratfor: 'Syrian army fired artillery shells that hit the town of Akcakale on the Turkish side of the Turkish-Syrian border Oct. 3, killing at least three people ...' Read the rest at the link.
Lebanon: Blast in Hezbollah stronghold kills three.Reuters reports on Wednesday's explosion in Nabi Sheet, eastern Lebanon.
Ethiopia: PM Meles dies. 'Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has died, Ethiopian state television said on Tuesday. Meles had not been seen in several weeks. The government said in July that he was taking a break to recover from an unspecified condition. State television said Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn will be acting prime minister. ...'
Russia / Israel: Gazprom eyes Leviathan. 'Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom is studying opportunities to participate in the development of Israel's Leviathan offshore natural gas field, Bloomberg reported Aug. 20 ...'
Turkey: Gaziantep bombing kills 8.CNN: 'Eight people were killed in a bombing in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, an official in the Interior Ministry said Monday. A spokesman for the Gaziantep governorship said 66 people were wounded in the blast. ...' Bianet - English: 'An explosion that took place near the Karşıyaka Police Station in the southeastern province of Gaziantep killed eight people and injured 61 at around 20:00 on Monday. The blast occured after someone detonated the explosives loaded inside a vehicle, Gaziantep Governor Erdal Ata told the broadcasting station NTV. The victims of the blast were passengers inside a nearby automobile and a minibus, according to reports. Two buses also caught fire in consequence of the explosion ...'
Gaziantep, previously and still informally called Antep; ʻayn tāb [ʕajn tæːb] is a city in southeast Turkey and amongst the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. The city is located 185 kilometres (115 miles) northeast of Adana and 127 kilometres by road north of Aleppo, Syria. The city has two urban districts under its administration, Şahinbey and Şehitkamil. It is the sixth most populous city in Turkey.
USA / terrorism: Hezbollah funds seized.BBC: 'The US authorities say they have seized $150m (£95m) from a bank allegedly linked to a money-laundering scheme of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Last year, US officials accused the Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) of helping the group launder profits from drug trafficking and other crimes. The funds were allegedly used to ship cars from the US to West Africa, with the proceeds smuggled back to Lebanon. ...'
Analysis: Benjamin Kerstein on Chomsky, NPR. Michael Totten interviews Benjamin Kerstein on Noam Chomsky:
Benjamin Kerstein: There are a couple of main points that should be made. First, Chomsky is an absolutely shameless liar. A master of the argument in bad faith. He will say anything in order to get people to believe him. Even worse, he will say anything in order to shut people up who disagree with him. And I’m not necessarily talking about his public critics. If you've ever seen how he acts with ordinary students who question what he says, it's quite horrifying. He simply abuses them in a manner I can only describe as sadistic. That is, he clearly enjoys doing it. I don't think anyone ought to be allowed to get away with that kind of behavior.
Second, Chomsky is immensely important to the radical left. When it comes to American foreign policy he isn't just influential, he's basically all they have. Almost any argument made about foreign affairs by the radical left can be traced back to him. That wasn't the case when he started out back in the late '60s, but it is now.
Third, he is essentially the last totalitarian. ...
Put simply, NPR is for coastal liberals what Rush Limbaugh is for heartland conservatives: a means of relating to the world from within the confines of a specific subculture. The difference, of course, is that Limbaugh’s admirers do not force others to pay for it.
Nor, I imagine, are Limbaugh’s listeners laboring under the same illusion as NPR’s. Most of them probably understand that Limbaugh is giving opinions based on his political point of view, which is, to say the least, well known to his listeners. NPR’s listeners, on the other hand, are quite convinced that they are receiving nothing less than the pure, unvarnished, objective truth from the network. They believe themselves to be smart and informed, and thus the network they love must also be, perhaps by definition, smart and informative. ...
Lebanon: Annan quits as Syrian peace envoy.NOW Lebanon: 'Kofi Annan is quitting as UN-Arab League envoy for Syria after battling to persuade President Bashar al-Assad to accept a peace plan, the UN said Thursday. UN leader Ban Ki-moon announced "with deep regret," that Annan had tendered his resignation, as the Syrian civil war spiraled further out of control. ...'
Iraq: Kurdistan threatens to halt oil exports.Reuters: 'Iraq's Kurdistan region said its planned resumption of oil exports may last only to August 31 if the central government does not pay arrears to foreign companies, meaning the rise in Iraq's overall shipments to world markets could be brief. The semi-autonomous region said on Wednesday it would restart exports this week in a bid to end the payments dispute with Baghdad. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) says the central government has withheld payment of $1.5 billion. Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami gave the end-August deadline in a letter posted on the KRG's website and addressed to oil companies DNO, Genel Energy and Kar Group. ...'
Iraq: Turkish visit to Kurdistan violates sovereignty. Meanwhile, Stratfor reports that a Baghdad spokesman complained that a recent visit to Kirkuk by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu constituted a serious breach of Iraqi government sovereignty.
India: Muslim journalist charged in attack on Israeli. 'Nearly five months after an Israeli diplomat's car was bombed in New Delhi, the Delhi Police on Tuesday indicted Indian journalist Syed Mohammad Kazmi of conspiring with foreign elements and others for the terror strike.' Tal Yehoshua-Koren and her Indian driver were wounded in the February 13 attack.
Somalia: Suicide bombers strike as constitution finalized. 'Two suicide bombers attacked a conference in Somalia on Wednesday but failed to stop delegates agreeing a new draft constitution that is meant to help the violence-torn East African country return to stability. One bomber killed six security officers, while the other was shot and killed before he could detonate his bomb, police said. Al Shabaab, Somalia's al Qaeda-linked group, said it was behind the attack and that it had succeeded in killing Somali and African Union troops. ...'
Syria: Agreement on post-regime future to be signed.Stratfor: 'Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the Syrian Kurdish National Council and the Syrian National Council will sign an agreement on the future of Syria after President Bashar al Assad's regime.'
Turkey: Army holds exercise near Syrian border.NOW Lebanon: 'Turkey's military on Wednesday tested its tanks' speed and maneuverability during an exercise in Turkey's southeastern border near Syria, reported the Anatolia news agency. The exercise comes after Turkey sent a convoy of tanks, weapons and ground-to-air missile batteries to the border with Syria, strengthening its defenses there as intensified on the other side of the border. ...'
Syria / Turkey: F-4 not shot down.Strategy Page: 'Did Syria make it all up? One June 22nd Syria announced that it had shot down a low flying Turkish F-4 reconnaissance aircraft while (according to Syria) it was flying 13 kilometers off the Syrian coast. Now that the Turks have recovered the bodies of the pilots and some pieces of the aircraft, there is growing evidence that the aircraft was not hit by gunfire or missiles. The Turks suspect that the F-4 was lost due to pilot error or mechanical failure. ...'
Romania: President facing impeachment, urges boycott.Reuters: 'Romanians voted on Sunday on whether to impeach their unpopular president, Traian Basescu, after a government campaign to remove him that has drawn international criticism of its methods and raised doubts about the country's IMF aid deal. ...'
Turkey: 46 lawyers on trial for KCK / PKK links. '(Reuters) - Dozens of lawyers went on trial in Turkey on Monday on charges of links to Kurdish militants and foreign jurists rallied outside the court to protest at the latest in a series of cases that have drawn criticism of Ankara's human rights record. All 50 defendants - including 46 lawyers - had been involved in representing the jailed Kurdish militant chief Abdullah Ocalan. ...' They're accused of ties to the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK), which Ankara sees as urban wing of the militant separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Ocalan was captured in 1999.
Russia / Syria: Analysis - Putin's realism.Zenpundit posting at IVN:
Russian President Vladimir Putin made a foreign policy speech to Russia’s ambassadors and Foreign Ministry officials that is very much worth reading in context of his dispatch to Syria of a fleet of warships, including a battleship, to the modest Russian naval base in Tartus. Under Putin’s hand, Russian support for the bloody regime of Bashar Assad has consistently been more about safeguarding and expanding Russia’s strategic place in world than about Syria ...
Iraq: Baghdad complains about Kurdish exports to Turkey. As Morning Report noted Friday, Turkey has started importing oil from Iraqi Kurdistan, a.k.a. "northern Iraq". The central Iraqi government in Baghdad is not happy about this: 'Iraq said on Sunday that oil exports from Kurdistan to Turkey by truck were "illegal", warning Ankara that such trade with the autonomous region could damage its relations with the central government in Baghdad. ... "Exporting oil from Kurdistan to Turkey is illegal and illegitimate," Iraq government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.' So, yes, you read that right: the complaint is that Kurdistan is getting too friendly with Turkey. Strange times indeed.
Sarah Palin: Big government vs. big freedom.Breitbart:
Sarah Palin boldly, clearly and sharply articulated the stakes in the 2012 election on Saturday when she addressed a "Patriots in the Park" Tea Party event. The event took place in Michigan and was sponsored by the Michigan branch of Americans for Prosperity and the Willow Run Tea Party Caucus.
“2012 is a race between the party of big government and the party of big freedom,” Palin said, contrasting the Republican party's vision with that of President Barack Obama's.
In reference to Obama and his policies, Palin said there was something “wrong with someone” who would want to fundamentally transform a country that was good and strong.
"If that’s what you call hope, then we want change,” Palin said.
Palin dubbed Obama’s economic policies as “Obamanomics,” called it a form of “crony capitalism on steroids” and said some aspects of Obamacare should be dubbed “no bureaucrat left behind” for the thousands of I.R.S. jobs the bill has created to collect what the Supreme Court found to be a tax.
She accused Obama of having “recklessly mortgaged our children’s future $5 trillion in new debt,” being “constantly adrift,” and being afraid of the Tea Party. ...
Analysis: Economist vs. "Eastern Europe".In a video post (2:11) from London, The Economist argues for retiring the term "Eastern Europe". The analysts see a role for constructs like "Danube Europe", "Roman Europe", "Scared of Russia Europe", and particularly "Solvent Europe" - but not "Eastern Europe" with its Cold War legacy. Maybe we should call it something more catchy, like, say, where the West ends.
This afternoon, President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an official policy directive undermining the welfare reform law of 1996. The new policy guts the federal work requirements that have been the foundation of that law — one of the most successful domestic policy reforms in the 20th century.
Welfare reform replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children with a new program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The underlying concept of welfare reform was that able-bodied adults should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving welfare aid. ...
Read the rest at the link.
USA / Middle East: Growing presence leaves fewer options.Walter Russell Mead: 'This latest deployment, as well as last week’s report of a steadily increasing U.S. military presence, may have unintended consequences for U.S. policy. Every step forward makes it more difficult for the Obama administration to back down.'