Monday, April 17, 2017

Turkey: One Step Closer To Complete Tyranny, U.S. Deploys Two More Aircraft Carriers Towards Korean Peninsula,

Turkey is one step closer to complete tyranny

A slim majority of Turkish voters agreed on Sunday to grant sweeping powers to their president, in a watershed moment that the country’s opposition fears may cement a system of authoritarian rule within one of the critical power brokers of the Middle East.
With nearly 99 percent of votes in a referendum counted on Sunday night, supporters of the proposal had 51.3 percent of votes cast, and opponents had 48.7 percent, the country’s electoral commission announced.
So how much of an actual “victory” was it for Erdogan? We may never know. The opposition, particularly among the Kurdish groups, was hurling charges of voter fraud before the counting had even begun. On the one hand, we can admit that this happens all the time around the world. (It’s not like we don’t see it here in the United States, after all.) But they were pointing out some rather sketchy incidents which the ruling party didn’t even deny. For one thing, a significant number of ballots showed up which did not have the official government stamp on them. While administrative snafus are always possible, this obviously raised questions of whether the ballots were legitimate. They will be calling for a recount and investigation, but Erdogan’s administration is already brushing the charges aside. (NY Daily News)

The head of Turkey’s electoral board has rejected suggestions of fraud in Turkey’s referendum that will grant the president vast new powers.
Two opposition parties have complained of a number of irregularities in Sunday’s vote, including an electoral board decision to accept as valid ballots that did not bear the official stamp.
Some key executive offices will be done away with and the President will essentially be able to overrule any legislative decisions. Erdogan would be immediately eligible to serve two five year terms, but with the “reforms” he has demanded already in place there is little reason to suspect that he couldn’t just change the deal yet again in Darth Vader style.

But that really doesn’t change the day to day reality we see in Turkey right now. This wasn’t a referendum calling for a new government structure which would need to be built from the ground up over the next two years. It’s simply a public confirmation of precisely what Erdogan is already doing. He has largely absorbed the power of the legislature and has been ruling under “emergency powers” ever since last summer’s attempted coup. In other words, the vote would just cement in place the current situation.
Erdogan’s broader powers may mean the U.S. will have to grant concessions in its strategy to the government. These concessions may include a bigger Turkish role in operations to recapture ISIS’s capital of Raqqa.
Turkey is also home to millions of Syrian refugee’s that are being held back by the government from emigrating to the European Union. Erdogan’s increased power would grant him even more leverage over EU policies, by allowing him to threaten to open the refugee floodgate on the European continent.
As I said on Friday, the rest of the world is (at least for now) relegated to the role of basically sitting on the sidelines and watching. Having the trappings of a public referendum applied to Erdogan’s power grab makes it seem all the more legitimate. And even though he has locked up his opponents by the tens of thousands, it’s all being done under the umbrella of law enforcement and an effort to fight terrorism. Honestly, there’s little to be done at this point and nobody is interested in full scale military intervention in a nation which is still ostensibly one of our allies.
Turkey’s once flourishing democracy is, at this point, pretty much a thing of the past. It’s a sad day, but there will likely be far darker ones to come.

Erdogan will be no ordinary dictator. He is, first and foremost, an Islamist in the heart of democratic Europe. He will control a large, well-trained army equipped with the latest NATO weapons in one of the most strategically located countries in the world. It will be very difficult to fight ISIS and blunt Iran's ambitions without Erdogan's cooperation.

That's why criticism from NATO and the U.S. for this power grab will be muted. As noted above, Turkey is also a key player in the refugee crisis. Erdogan could make the lives of EU leaders miserable if he opens the floodgates of migrants and allows passage through Turkey into the west.

According to a report by South Korea's primary news outlet, Yonhap, the Pentagon has directed a total of three US aircraft carriers toward the Korean Peninsula, citing a South Korean government source.
Yonhap reports that in addition to the CVN-70 Carl Vinson, which is expected to arrive off the South Korean coast on April 25, the CVN-76 Ronald Reagan - currently in home port in Yokosuka, Japan - and the CVN-68 Nimitz carrier group - currently undergoing final pre-deployment assessment, Composite Training Unit Exercise off Oregon - will enter the Sea of Japan next week.  According to the senior government official. the US and South Korea are discussing joint drills, which will include the three aircraft carriers and other ships.
USS Carl Vinson, surrounded by a fleet of US warships, was sent by Washington toward the Korean Peninsula in the beginning of April.

While details are scarce, and we would urge confirmation from US-based sources, Yonhap also reports that according to the government source the operation of three aircraft carriers in the same location is unusual, and demonstrates the US commitment to North Korea.  Other sources said the Trump administration is demonstrating deterrence by acting on its behalf. "We expect it to be completely different from the previous administration."

On Sunday, Pyongyang launched an unidentified projectile, but the test reportedly failed. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) stated that the attempted launch was conducted from the area near North Korea's eastern port city of Sinpo, but likely ended in a failure.

A spokesman for the rogue North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, who has been known to execute his political enemies through military ordnance, is threatening “all out war” against the United States.

It’s the latest flagrant claim made by an official of the Hermit Kingdom. Kim has threatened to rain “nuclear thunder” on the United States.

The rhetoric is at least partly in response to President Trump’s tougher stance. Trump already has allowed the military to launch 59 missiles against a Syrian airfield from which a poison gas attack allegedly was launched on civilians and to drop an 11-ton bomb on an ISIS operation in Afghanistan.

Both attacks are regarded as statements to America’s enemies. At the White House briefing Monday, spokesman Sean Spicer said the president is watching North Korea closely.
“I think the president has made clear we’re aware of the activities that they’ve engaged in, and we’re monitoring them. And the national security team continues to keep him up to date,” he said.
But he said Trump will not broadcast any plans in advance.
“I think taking anything on or off the table is in itself limiting your options to some degree. And so I’m not going to even discuss that,” Spicer said.
The Sun reported North Korea’s foreign minister “threatened the U.S. with an ‘all out war’ if Trump is ‘reckless enough to use military means.'”

It may be time to worry, because the following report from Kit Daniels of says the U.S. Navy may be searching for a foreign submarine just off the coast of San Diego, California:

Anti-submarine aircraft have been loitering over the same area off the California coast for hours, which is fueling speculation that a Russian – or a North Korean – submarine was spotted in the area.
While the report of a foreign vessel is unconfirmed at this point, the military patrol is apparently not part of a routine exercise due to the number of aircraft hovering over the same area and the late hours of operation.
The patrol includes multiple low-flying aircraft including a Navy EP-3E Aries II, which is used for electronic surveillance, a Navy P-3C Orion, which is used for submarine spotting, and a Boeing P-8 Poseidon used for anti-submarine warfare.
Additionally, a Royal Canadian CP-140 Orion, also known for submarine spotting, joined the search.
Earlier this morning a South Korean newspaper reported that China is massing as many as 150,000 troops on the North Korean border.
The moves follow an ultimatum to the United States from Russia and Iran promising retaliatory military strikes should the United States act against Syria. President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi over the weekend – is it possible that China, in no uncertain terms, gave America the same warning?

A leading weapons academic has claimed that the Khan Sheikhoun nerve agent attack in Syria was staged, raising questions about who was responsible.
Theodore Postol, a professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), issued a series of three reports in response to the White House's finding that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad perpetrated the attack on 4 April.
He concluded that the US government's report does not provide any "concrete" evidence that Assad was responsible, adding it was more likely that the attack was perpetrated by players on the ground.
Postol said: "I have reviewed the [White House's] document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria at roughly 6am to 7am on 4 April, 2017.

"In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document point to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of 4 April.
"This conclusion is based on an assumption made by the White House when it cited the source of the sarin release and the photographs of that source. My own assessment is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House."

The image Postol refers to is that of a crater containing a shell inside, which is said to have contained the sarin gas.
His analysis of the shell suggests that it could not have been dropped from an airplane as the damage of the casing is inconsistent from an aerial explosion. Instead, Postol said it was more likely that an explosive charge was laid upon the shell containing sarin, before being detonated.

"The explosive acted on the pipe as a blunt crushing mallet," Postol said. "It drove the pipe into the ground while at the same time creating the crater.
"Since the pipe was filled with sarin, which is an incompressible fluid, as the pipe was flattened, the sarin acted on the walls and ends of the pipe causing a crack along the length of the pipe and also the failure of the cap on the back end."
The implication of Postol's analysis is that it was carried out by anti-government insurgents as Khan Sheikhoun is in militant-controlled territory of Syria.
Postol, formerly a scientific advisor at the Department of Defense (DoD), has previously outlined similar inconsistencies with US intelligence reports. Following the 2013 chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta, Postol again said the evidence did not suggest Assad was responsible – a finding that was later corroborated by the United Nations.

The British Guardian posted a report on April 13 claiming that its sources now admit that the British spy agency GCHQ was digitally wiretapping Trump associates, going back to late 2015. This was presumably when the December 2015 Moscow meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lt. General Michael Flynn took place.
This runs contrary to the blanket nature of the denial insinuated in GCHQ’s carefully-crafted statement of March 17 claiming it was all “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous” that they conducted surveillance of “then president-elect” Donald Trump (emphasis added). The surveillance went back a year before he became “president-elect.”
President Trump’s claim of being “wire tapped” has been vindicated. Indeed, the surveillance is far more extensive than even he suspected at the time.
Based on the new disclosures, we can safely conclude that the world’s most advanced and extensive system of computerized espionage was indeed used against him and people he worked with, for political purposes, with the knowledge and approval of top Obama officials such as CIA Director John Brennan (one major name implicated by the Guardian).

Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, who said GCHQ was involved in wiretapping Trump, has also vindicated. Fox News owes Napolitano an apology for yanking him off the air for a week for making that “controversial” and now-verified assertion.

President Trump stressed the pervasive “extent” of this Obama political “wiretapping” to Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business in an Oval Office interview on April 11 (aired April 12).  “Me and so many other people” surveilled, Trump said. He explained again that he had picked up the “wire tapped” terminology straight from the headline of The New York Times (of January 20) as he has explained before (on March 15; see AIM report).
Now we’re learning that GCHQ did wiretap Trump for a year before the election. “Trump” is, of course, shorthand for Trump associates and possibly Trump himself directly, depending on context. But GCHQ is trying to put a positive spin on what it admits would be illegal spying on U.S. citizens if done by U.S. agencies.

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