Tuesday, 1 December 2015

The police state in New Zealand

Attack the messenger.

The police state has arrived in New Zealand.

Police raid Heather du Plessis-Allan's home
Police officers have searched the apartment of television journalist Heather du Plessis-Allan and her husband Barry Soper, after she managed to purchase a firearm over the internet.

Heather du Plessis-Allan tweeted this photo of herself with the gun.
1 December, 2015

Soper, the political editor at Newstalk ZB, told RNZ they were "quite surprised" to receive a call from police yesterday afternoon informing them they would search the Wellington apartment the couple shared.

"I would have thought they would have searched her place in Auckland before they searched our place in Wellington. I also find it surprising that three officers from Auckland flew down to Wellington to execute this search warrant. Surely they could have had police based in Wellington who could do an adequate job."

He said three officers turned up at 8am and searched through bedside cabinets and drawers in the two bedrooms and dining room looking for samples of her handwriting. He said they took away some items.

Cops search our apartment in Wellington to find handwriting samples of to prove gun charges against her.  
He said the story was done in the full knowledge that there could have been repercussions,but the police acknowledged immediately there was a problem that people were able to buy guns online without a license.

"One would have thought that in the public interest, this was the story to do. She did it, and unfortunately, it would seem they are trying to make her suffer the consequences."

Police have yet to bring any charges against du Plessis-Allan.

In October, du Plessis-Allan - a presenter on TV3's Story current affairs programme - worked on a report highlighting a loophole which allowed the purchase of a rifle via mail order, apparently without producing a gun licence.

du Plessis-Allan said on the programme that it was "too easy" for the system to be hoodwinked, and called for it to be changed. She said Story had surrendered the firearm to police.

From TV3

Soros chucked out of Russia

Prosecutors ban Soros Foundation as ‘threat to Russian national security’

30 November, 2015

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has recognized George Soros’s Open Society Institute and another affiliated organization as undesirable groups, banning Russian citizens and organizations from participation in any of their projects.

In a statement released on Monday, prosecutors said the activities of the Open Society Institute and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation were a threat to the foundations of Russia’s Constitutional order and national security. 

They added that the Justice Ministry would be duly informed about these conclusions and would add the two groups to Russia’s list of undesirable foreign organizations.

Prosecutors launched a probe into the activities of the two organizations - both sponsored by the well-known US financier George Soros - in July this year, after Russian senators approved the so-called “patriotic stop-list” of 12 groups that required immediate attention over their supposed anti-Russian activities. Other groups on the list included the National Endowment for Democracy; the International Republican Institute; the National Democratic Institute; the MacArthur Foundation and Freedom House.

In late July, the Russian Justice Ministry recognized the US National Endowment for Democracy as an undesirable group after prosecutors discovered the US NGO had spent millions on attempts to question the legitimacy of Russian elections and tarnish the prestige of national military service.

The Law on Undesirable Foreign Organizations came into force in early June this year. It requires the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry to draw up an official list of undesirable foreign organizations and outlaw their activities. 

Once a group is recognized as undesirable, its assets in Russia must be frozen, its offices closed and the distribution of any of its materials must be banned.

If the ban is violated, the personnel of the outlawed group and any Russian citizens who cooperate with them could face heavy fines, or even prison terms in the case of repeated or aggravated offences.

The Soros Foundation started working in Russia in the mid-1990s, but wrapped up its active operations in 2003.

Russia arms planes with air-to-air missiles

Russia arms Su-34s with air-to-air missiles in Syria for 1st time

30 November, 2015

Russian Su-34 bombers, additionally equipped with air-to-air missiles, have set out on their first mission in Syria, said Igor Klimov, spokesman for the Russian Air Force.

Today, Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers have made their first sortie equipped not only with high explosive aviation bombs and hollow charge bombs, but also with short- and medium-range air-to-air missiles," Klimov said.

"The planes are equipped with missiles for defensive purposes," he dded

The missiles have target-seeking devices and are “capable of hitting air targets within a 60km radius,” he said.

Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber operating in Syria on November 24, with Ankara claiming that the warplane had violated Turkish airspace. Moscow has rejected the claims, saying that according to its military intelligence the Su-24 never left Syrian airspace.

On Monday, Turkey's prime minister said that Ankara will not apologize for the incident.

"No Turkish prime minister or president will apologize ... for doing our duty,

Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters after meeting NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.

In the wake of the downing, President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed a decree imposing a package of economic sanctions against Turkey. The measures include banning several Turkish organizations and the import of certain goods. Under the sanctions, the visa-free regime for Turkish nationals traveling to Russia will be suspended starting next year. The Russian government has also been tasked with introducing a ban on charter flights between Russia and Turkey and to enhance security control at Russian ports on the Sea of Azov and Black Sea.

Russia has been conducting airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants (IS, former ISIS, ISIL) and other terrorist groups in Syria since September 30. The strikes were launched after a formal request from Damascus. Russian jets have been carrying out sorties from Moscow’s Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia.

On Thursday, Moscow recalled its military representative from Turkey. At the same time Russian Defense Ministry said that all channels of military cooperation with Ankara were suspended including a hotline set up to share information about Russian airstrikes in Syria.

Putin's proof of oil smuggled through Turkey

Russia has ‘more proof’ ISIS oil routed through Turkey, Erdogan says he’ll resign if it’s true

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. © Sputnik

30 November, 2015

Russia has received additional intelligence confirming that oil from deposits controlled by Islamic State is moved through Turkey on an industrial scale, said Vladimir Putin. President Recep Erdogan said he will resign if this is confirmed.

Moscow has grounds to suspect that the Su-24 was downed by Turkish jets on November 24 to secure illegal oil deliveries from Syria to Turkey, he said speaking on the sidelines of the climate change summit in Paris on Monday. 

At the moment we have received additional information confirming that that oil from the deposits controlled by Islamic State militants enters Turkish territory on industrial scale,” he said.

We have every reason to believe that the decision to down our plane was guided by a desire to ensure security of this oil’s delivery routes to ports where they are shipped in tankers,” Putin said.

Speaking in Paris on Monday, President Recep Erdogan said that he will leave office if there is proof of Turkey’s cooperation with IS.

 We are not that dishonest as to buy oil from terrorists. If it is proven that we have, in fact, done so, I will leave office. If there is any evidence, let them present it, we’ll consider [it],” he said, as quoted by TASS.

The countries from which Turkey buys oil are “well known,” said Erdogan.

He called on Russia to comment on the US’ recent black-listing of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the World Chess Federation President, accusing him of “materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of the Government of Syria.” Erdogan alleged Ilyumzhinov had been dealing with Islamic State oil.

Turkey's Erdogan says will step down if Russian claims of buying oil from Daesh are proved

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Terrorists have been abusing the visa-free regime between Russia and Turkey to move freely, the Russian leader said adding that Ankara failed to address the issue after Russia raised it.

We have been asking [Ankara] for a long time to pay attention” to the threat posed by some terrorists active in separate regions of Russia, including the northern Caucuses, that have been “emerging on Turkish territory,” Putin said.

Moscow has asked Ankara to “stop this practice,” he added, but pointed out that “we have traced some located on the territory of the Turkish Republic and living in regions guarded by special security services and police that have used the visa-free regime to return to our territory, where we continue to fight them,” he dded.

‘Oxygen for jihadists’: -smuggled oil flows through Turkey to intl markets – Iraqi MP

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Answering a question as to whether Moscow wants to form a broad based anti-terrorist coalition, Putin said Russia has always supported this initiative, “but this cannot be done while someone continues to use several terrorist organizations to reach their immediate goals.”

Putin admitted that he was personally saddened by the deterioration of relations with Turkey. He explained that “problems do exist and they emerged a long time ago and we have been trying to resolve them in dialogue with our Turkish partners.

Russia deploys cutting-edge S-400 air defense system to Syrian base after Su-24 downing

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Putin said he has heard Ankara’s claims that it was not Erdogan who made the decision to down the Russian jet. However, he stressed that for Russia “it doesn’t really matter” which official made the decision. 

As a result of this criminal campaign our two soldiers died – a crew commander and a marine, who was part of the rescue team of the [Su-24] crew,” he said, adding that Turkey’s actions had been “a huge mistake.”

Russo-Turkish relations have deteriorated in the wake of the downing of Russia’s Su-24 by Turkish jets over Syria on November 24. Russia imposed a package of economic sanctions against Turkey last Thursday, which included banning several Turkish organizations and the import of certain goods, as well as cancelling the visa-free regime for Turkish citizens travelling to Russia starting next year.

VIDEO: Remains of Su-24 pilot killed in Syria arrive in Russia

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Speaking on the sidelines of the summit, Erdogan said that Ankara will act “patiently, not emotionally” before imposing any counter-measures.

Meanwhile, ahead of the summit, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stated that Ankara will not apologize “for doing our duty.

Putin and Erdogan were hoped to meet at the environmental summit taking place in Paris, but Putin said that no meeting was held on Monday.

Turkey Arrests Generals Who Stopped Syria-Bound, Weapons-Laden, Spook Trucks

30 November, 2015

If there’s a silver lining to last Tuesday’s downing of a Russian Su-24 warplane by two Turkish F-16s it’s that the world is now starting to scrutinize President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Even to the uninitiated it seemed strange that a NATO member would shoot down a Russian fighter jet over an alleged 17 second violation of Turkish airspace. Why, one wonders, would the democratically elected leader of one of the world’s foremost up and coming emerging markets decide, out of the blue, to become the first member of the alliance to engage a Russian or Soviet aircraft in more than six decades? 

The answer to that question lies in Ankara’s covert dealings with the various rebel groups fighting the Assad regime in Syria.

Turkey’s support for some militias (the Turkmen fighters aligned with the FSA for instance) is not secret. However, there’s no shortage of speculation that Erdogan is also allied with less “moderate” forces including ISIS. The PKK for instance, has long accused the government of maintaining a cozy relationship with Islamic State and there are all manner of reasons to believe that Turkey has at various times facilitated the flow of fighters and weapons to ISIS (see here) and served as a critical link between the group’s lucrative oil operation and global crude markets (see hereand here). Now, thanks to last week’s plane “incident”, this has been laid bare for the world to see and Erdogan is not happy about it. 

Now that AKP has regained its political supremacy (thanks to a farce of an election Erdogan engineered after AKP lost its absolute majority in June), Ankara has renewed its crackdown on undesirable journalism. As we reported on Friday, Can Dündar, editor in chief of Cumhuriyet, and Erdem Gül, the newspaper’s capital correspondent in Ankara, were arrested last week on charges of spying and aiding and abetting terrorists. 

In reality, Dündar and Gül exposed Turkish intelligence’s role in providing weapons to extremists operating across the border. Here’s WSJ with the summary: "The charges center on a Cumhuriyet report in May, including photos and video, suggesting Turkish intelligence was secretly ferrying weapons to extremist Syrian rebels. The article sparked a major furor in Turkey, which has long been accused by its critics of secretly aiding in the growth of Islamic State militants based in neighboring Syria.” Here’s the video: 

The footage shows gendarmerie and police officers opening crates on the back of the trucks which contain what newspaper Cumhuriyet described as weapons and ammunition,” Reuters reported at the time, adding that “witnesses and prosecutors have alleged that MIT helped deliver arms to parts of Syria under Islamist rebel control during late 2013 and early 2014, [according to] a prosecutor and court testimony from gendarmerie officers.”

For his part, Erdogan claimed the trucks were carrying humanitarian aid for Turkmen groups (presumably the same FSA-aligned Turkmen groups who executed a Russian pilot last week). The President then hilariously accused a bevy of officers and prosecutors of being part of a “parallel state” (with ties to Fethullah Gülen). determined to bring down the government. 

As Reuters went on to detail, the trucks were eventually allowed to pass after MIT officials threatened the police."Don't treat me like you have captured a terrorist," one of the men told a gendarmerie officer who had handcuffed him.
The contents of the crates: 1,000 mortar shells, hundreds of grenade launchers and more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition for light and heavy weapons. 
Here's where the trucks were intercepted:

Given that the battle for Aleppo (which is still going on today with Iranian ground forces advancing on the city), was raging at the time the trucks were stopped, and given what we know about FSA's ongoing presence in the city, it seems fairly obvious that the weapons were bound for the Free Syrian Army. Indeed, Erdogan hedged his "humanitarian aid for Turkmens" story, telling supporters over the weekend that "those who revealed the transfer made the world hear about these trucks by stopping them and checking what they were carrying. Then they said the government was sending weapons to terrorist groups [in Syria]. In so doing, they revealed all the humanitarian aid that was going to Bay?r-Bucak Turkmens. They also exposed those going to the FSA in that way."

Of course funneling money to the FSA is dangerous enough as we saw last week when the 1st coastal brigade destroyed a Russian search and rescue helicopter with a US-made TOW, but it's not as though the FSA (they're "moderates" don't forget, despite the fact that they fight alongside al-Nusra) were alone in Aleppo when these MIT trucks were stopped. Here's are two maps which show the ISIS presence in the city on 01/05/2014:

As you can see, there's no telling who these weapons were intended for which, presumably, is why the gendarmerie sought to stop the shipment. 
Not satisfied with having imprisoned the reporters who broke the story, Erdogan moved on Monday to arrest the officers involved in the stop. Here's the official story from state-run Anadolu Agency:

A court in Istanbul has ordered the arrest of three senior army officers, including two generals on charges of espionage and leading a terrorist group in a case involving the search of Turkish intelligence trucks in 2014.
The court made the ruling on Sunday.
General Hamza Celepoglu was accused of forming and leading an armed terrorist organization and of trying to overthrow the Turkish government. General Ibrahim Aydin and a retired colonel, Burhanettin Cihangiroglu, were accused of forming and leading an armed terrorist organization as well as spying and trying to oust the Turkish government, according to Istanbul prosecutor Irfan Fidan.
The three suspects were called to an Istanbul courthouse on Saturday as part of an investigation involving the search of trucks belonging to the Turkish intelligence (MIT) in 2014.
In January of that year, several trucks were stopped by the local gendarmerie in southern Adana and Hatay provinces on the grounds that they were loaded with ammunition, despite a national security law forbidding such a search.

So let's just be clear about what's going on here, because it would be a shame if the absurdity was lost on anyone. In January 2014, MIT loaded up some trucks with weapons bound for militant groups operating in northwestern Syria. Those trucks were stopped at the border by police who were subsequently threatened by intelligence agents who accompanied the drivers. Erdogan has now charged the officers with "forming and leading an armed terrorist organization," when in fact they were doing the exact opposite. That is, they were trying to keep several truck loads of weapons from reaching armed terrorist organizations.
As you can see, there are no limits on what Erdogan will do to suppress dissent and cover up Ankara's role in implicitly supporting terrorism by arming militants in Syria.

It's worth noting that the FSA has become nothing more than a kind of catch-all excuse for flooding Syria with weapons. As al-Jazeera reported earlier this month, the group is beset with defections and "nowhere is [the dissatisfaction] more apparent than in Aleppo, where many FSA soldiers are leaving the group, citing inadequate pay, family obligations and poor conditions." Still, the media manages to portray them as a well-organized group of battle-hardened, "moderate" warriors who have a very real chance at battling the Russians and Iranians to a stalemate (they've rejected Russia's overtures regarding teaming up to fight ISIS) on the way to negotiating for a transition away from the Assad government. This characterization allows Washington and its regional allies to justify the hundreds of millions in guns, ammo, and funding that to this day flows into the country unimpeded. Whether or not all of that goes to the FSA or the Kurds or whether, like Erdogan's MIT trucks, it all could be going to the very same groups who organize and execute attacks on Western civilians is an open question that will likely never be answered.