French Gov. Attempts To Covertly Create National ID Database
Exactly two weeks ahead of the 13th of November anniversary of the terrorist attacks last year in Paris, which left 130 people dead and 367 injured, the French government has sought to quietly create a massive database that will collect and store the personal information of its 60 million strong population. The Ministry of the Interior quietly published decree No. 2016-1460, without any parliamentary consultation or public debate. However, once the passing of this decree was exposed public reaction has compelled the French government to backtrack slightly with a promise for debate and consultation within the National Assembly.
A state of emergency was put in place, following the attacks, which granted sweeping powers to the security services and which have been extended three times thus far, with yet another extension expected. There have been over 3,300 raids in the country under the emergency powers against the French Muslim population, resulting in the ransacking of homes, stores and mosques and which have thus far not resulted in arrests related to the attacks.
Human rights and civil liberties advocate Yasser Louati will be on the Real News this week to discuss the current state of affairs in France as well as the French government’s attempt to covertly create a national database of its citizens.
‘Closing Down of NGO’s in Turkey is Another Step Towards Tyranny’ Kurdish Communities Bear the Brunt of Crackdown
Turkey has halted the activities of 370 non-governmental groups including human rights and children’s organizations over alleged terrorist links, as the government widens purges following the failed coup in July. The Real News has had advance sight of a statement by Peace in Kurdistan (PiK), condemning the latest developments in Turkey as “another step towards tyranny” in which the Turkish interior ministry has “declared 370 NGOs and associations which were [until now considered to be] operating legally inside Turkey will be closed down”.
Hundreds of NGOs “have become the latest victim [sic] to feel the wrath of President Erdoğan and his clampdown on democracy which he is carrying out under pretext of eradicating the social and political support base of the failed coup” the statement says of which “199 are Kurdish and […] are accused of being affiliated to the PKK, while 153[…] are alleged to be linked to the Gulen-movement, whom Erdoğan accuses of instigating the coup”.
PiK advocates for a political solution to the ‘Kurdish question’ and regularly reports on the overall environment in Turkey as it pertains to civil liberties and human rights.
More than 110,000 people have been fired or suspended from their jobs and 37,000 arrested since the failed putsch in what has accompanied the most far reaching crackdowns on civil liberties and human rights since the successful military coup of 1980.
*Update: The PiK statement has since been released and can be found here.
Erdoğan Purge Creates $10 billion Bazaar for Would Be Oligarchs’ -Bloomberg News
According to Bloomberg News assets that are being stripped from those targeted in the post-coup crackdown in Turkey, are going to be auctioned off to individuals supportive of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “We are seeing a terrible plunder like the one that created the Russian oligarchs” economist and co-author of the book “Growth and Structural Issues in Turkey’s Economy” told Taylan Bilgic of Bloomberg News “Only this time it’s private assets, not state assets, that will be transferred to businessmen close to the government”. According to the article “controlling stakes in almost 600 companies have been transferred to Turkey’s Savings & Deposit Insurance Fund for allegedly aiding terrorism”. The Turkish Prime Minister informed the Parliament that if a link to terrorism can be established then the assets will be sold off, otherwise they will be returned to their original owners. The article cites a TMSF official who put the value of seized assets at about 30 billion liras ($10 billion).
Anti-Trump Protests Continue Throughout US
Anti-Donald Trump protests continued throughout the US for a fifth night in a row since last Tuesday’s presidential election. Protests took place in most major cities and about 20 were arrested in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, when demonstrators refused to disperse in accordance with police orders. Some of the protests, such as in New York City, involved 25,000 people. Also, women’s organizations have announced that they plan a “million women’s march” for January 21, the day after the president’s inauguration. Historians say this is the first time there have been such widespread and on-going protests against a president since Abraham Lincoln’s re-election in 1864, while the US was still in the in the middle of civil war and Lincoln was deeply hated by many in the South.
Trump Appoints Bannon and Priebus as Closest Advisors
Donald Trump made his first two appointments for his administration on Sunday, naming Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff and Steven Bannon, the former director of Breitbart News, as his Senior Presidential Advisor. Priebus is the consummate party insider who is extremely well-connected to the Republican party establishment. Bannon, on the other hand, is a far-right nationalist activist who has spent most of his political life fighting against the Republican party establishment. The appointment of Bannon immediately drew strong criticism from a wide variety of individuals and political groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the Anti-Defamation League.
TPP is Dead
The Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal is effectively dead as of Friday, when congressional leaders informed President Obama that they will not work to ratify the treaty. The 12-nation deal was the largest new free trade agreement in over a decade and involved Canada, the US, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, Japan, and Malaysia, among others. Donald Trump said he opposed the deal and Hillary Clinton said it needed to be improved.The Obama administration pushed the TPP strongly, though, arguing that if it fails China would take the lead and establish a free trade arrangement in the Pacific Rim that excludes the US.
2016 Will Be Hottest on Record, at 1.2 Degrees Celsius Over Pre-Industrial Age
2016 will be the hottest year on record, following the previous two record-setting years of 2015 and 2014, according to the World Metrological Organization. The global average temperature will be 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in 2016. This puts world temperatures past the half-way point for the 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius target that the Paris Climate Agreement agreed not to exceed. According to the WMO, at least half of the world’s extreme weather conditions in 2016 are traceable to human induced climate change. Other consequences have been that Arctic ice has been at its second-lowest level ever and extreme heat reached new heights in India, Russia, South Africa, and Thailand, among other places in 2016.
India Is Eliminating 86% of its Cash in Circulation in Order to Curb Tax Evasion
India is eliminating 86 percent of its cash in circulation as a measure to stamp out tax evasion and corruption. Key elements of this plan is to make the country’s largest denomination bills worthless and to have Indians deposit them or exchange them for new bills, once they prove that they paid taxes on this money. The conservative government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement last Wednesday and received bitter criticism. Modi defended the action by arguing that it is necessary in order to reduce the number of tax-evading cash transactions in a country that is poor and has an exceptionally low tax collection rate.
Southeasten European Countries Elect Pro-Russian Leadership
Presidential elections in Bulgaria and Moldova were held on this Sunday, resulting in pro-Russian candidates attaining the presidency in both countries. Igor Dodon, head of the Socialist Party, won the presidency of Moldova. The Socialist Rumen Radev has won the presidency in Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s center-right Prime Minister Boyko Borisov tended his resignation. In both elections a key issue was whether the two countries should strengthen ties to the west with the European Union or with Russia to the east. President-elect Rumen Radev even praised Trump for holding a friendlier stance towards Russia. Widespread dissatisfaction has long existed in both countries with systemic corruption and the neoliberal economic systems that the 7.2 million strong population of Bulgaria and the 3.5 million citizens of Moldova have been subjected to for many years.
Israeli Government Promotes Retroactive Recognition of Illegal Settlements
The Israeli Government’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation has unanimously approved a bill to retroactively legalize illegal Israeli colonies in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. With strong government backing, the bill is likely to be passed in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. For over a year the issue of the illegal colonies, known in Israel as “outposts,” has been a major point of contention in the Israeli government, due to the fact that the colonies are built on private Palestinian land, and that legalizing them would undermine the Israeli argument that colonies are built on “state land” and are not acts of pillage or land-grabbing. The government rushed to approve the bill now, however, due to the belief that the election of Trump creates a “window of opportunity,” and that President Obama would not dare interfere, particularly given the defeat of his party in the U.S elections. Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit warned that the government’s decision violates international law, and that he will be unable to defend it in the Israeli Supreme Court.
*Update: Watch the interview with Yasser Louti’s on the covert plans to build a National Biometric Database in France here.