Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday Post

So much going on...

Turkey sweeps up after a coup:

Forces loyal to Turkey's government fought on Saturday to crush the last remnants of a military coup attempt which collapsed after crowds answered President Tayyip Erdogan's call to take to the streets and dozens of rebels abandoned their tanks.

One hundred and sixty-one people were killed, including many civilians, after a faction of the armed forces tried to seize power using tanks and attack helicopters. Some strafed the headquarters of Turkish intelligence and parliament in the capital, Ankara, and others seized a major bridge in Istanbul.

Erdogan accused the coup plotters of trying to kill him and launched a purge of the armed forces, which last used force to stage a successful coup more than 30 years ago.

"They will pay a heavy price for this," said Erdogan, who also saw off mass public protests against his rule three years ago. "This uprising is a gift from God to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army."

A Turkish broadcaster reported that a purge of the judiciary was also underway.

One government minister said some military commanders were still being held hostage by the plotters. But the government declared the situation fully under control, saying 2,839 people had been rounded up from foot soldiers to senior officers, including those who had formed "the backbone" of the rebellion.

A successful overthrow of Erdogan, who has ruled the country of about 80 million people since 2003, would have marked another seismic shift in the Middle East, five years after the Arab uprisings erupted and plunged Turkey's southern neighbour Syria into civil war.

However, a failed coup attempt could still destabilise a NATO member and major U.S. ally that lies between the European Union and the chaos of Syria, with Islamic State bombers targeting Turkish cities and the government also at war with Kurdish separatists.

Erdogan is only a slightly sane Islamist. He will prove false and disastrous eventually. 

First Nations in Ontario will get the chance to buy shares in Hydro One, a public utility the Liberal government has partially privatized.

The government says it has reached an agreement in principle with the province's First Nations to loan them up to $268 million to buy up to 15 million shares at $18 per share.

That is above the province's book value, but below the $24-to-$26 range the stock has been trading in recent months.

For the deal to go through, at least 80 per cent of the band councils will have to approve the agreement by the end of next year.

If ratified, Ontario would sell the shares to a new investment vehicle owned collectively by First Nations and provide seed capital of up to $45 million over three years.

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault says in a statement that this would give economic development opportunities to First Nations across the province.

But in more than 20 speeches on mass shootings since Fort Hood, as America’s gun problem became more and more glaring, Obama has gradually moved from the comforter-in-chief role to a more critical one, says an American presidential historian.

“He’s turned into President Hector,” Gil Troy, a professor at McGill University, said Friday, the day after Obama gave a 40-minute speech at a memorial for five police officers shot dead in Dallas.

“He hectors us about our moral failings; about how we have to do better. I understand the frustration.

“But you know, I’m allowed to be frustrated as a citizen. The president isn’t supposed to be frustrated, he’s supposed to be the problem solver.”

Obama doesn't solve problems; he creates them. 

After the humiliating collapse of President Obama’s cherished Russian “reset,” instilling backbone in NATO and resisting Putin are significant strategic achievements. It leaves a marker for Obama’s successor, reassures the East Europeans and will make Putin think twice about repeating Ukraine in the Baltics.

However, the Western order remains challenged by the other two members of the troika of authoritarian expansionists: China and Iran. Their provocations proceed unabated. Indeed, the next test for the United States is China’s furious denunciation of the decision handed down Tuesday by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague — a blistering, sweeping and unanimous rejection of China’s territorial claims and military buildup in the South China Sea.

Without American action, however, The Hague’s verdict is a dead letter. Lecturing other great powers about adherence to “international norms” is fine. But the Pacific Rim nations are anxious to see whether Washington will actually do something.

Regarding Iran, it certainly won’t. Our abject appeasement continues, from ignoring Tehran’s serial violations of the nuclear agreement (the latest: intensified efforts to obtain illegal nuclear technology in Germany) to the administration acting as a kind of Chamber of Commerce to facilitate the sale of about 100 Boeing jetliners to a regime that routinely uses civilian aircraft for military transport (particularly in Syria).

Japan’s solar boom is beginning to falter.

Until recently, the resource-poor nation has been one of the leading markets for photovoltaic (PV) units, helping to prop up an industry hurt by falling prices for the technology and policy changes. But four years after the introduction of generous incentives to promote clean energy in the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, data show the boom is losing steam.

The slowdown — after several years of rapid growth — threatens to undermine the government’s push to find a clean alternative to nuclear power and dims what has been a bright spot for the global photovoltaic industry.

“As the declining volume of PV module shipments shows, the market is shrinking,” said Takehiro Kawahara, an analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Repeated tariff cuts and difficulty securing land and grid connections are among some of the reasons that have led to a drop in new applications to develop solar, Kawahara said.

For Japanese panel makers such as Sharp Corp. and Kyocera Corp., “the shrinking domestic market forces them to lower costs to remain in competition with international players or consider exiting the segment,” he said.

Solar power-related bankruptcies are increasing, according to Teikoku Databank Ltd. The number of companies that went bust rose to 36 in 2015, from 17 in 2013 and 21 in 2014. Bankruptcies continue to accelerate, with 17 seen in just the first five months of 2016, Teikoku said.

Some question what Japan has got for all the money spent on promoting clean energy. While more solar energy is being produced, it still comprises a fraction of the nation’s power generation mix.

A group of lawyers for 64 women who are suffering health problems from cervical cancer vaccines said Tuesday the victims will file damages lawsuits against the government and two drugmakers that produced the vaccines through four district courts on July 27.

Of the 64 women, 28 will lodge their suit with the Tokyo District Court, six with the Nagoya District Court, 16 with the Osaka District Court and 14 with the Fukuoka District Court, according to the lawyers.

Initially, the victims, mainly teenagers, will demand ¥15 million in damages each, for a total of ¥960 million, and increase the amount later depending on their symptoms. The victims’ health problems include pain all over the body.

The average age of the 28 planning to file their suit with the Tokyo court is 18. They received the vaccination when they were between 11 and 16 years old.

Noting that the cervical cancer vaccines have caused nerve disorders and other problems due to the excessive immune reactions they caused, the lawyers claimed that the government’s approval of the ineffective vaccines was illegal. The drugmakers bear product liability, they added.

And now, many happy returns for Rembrandt:

His full name—Rembrant Harmenszoon van Rijn—requires a bit of parsing. Harmenszoon means that his father’s name was Harmen, and van Rijn refers to where his family lived, near the Rhine River. So his full name means Rembrant, son of Harmen, from the Rhine. For reasons that are unclear, he added the silent “d” to his signature, changing it from Rembrant to Rembrandt, in 1633.

He doesn't look a day over four hundred and nine.

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