Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition!
I already did. It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Today I realised it's no longer possible to comment on youtube without using your real name. This made me think real hard how I can proceed from now on. Because the privacy repercussions are immense!

Google offers many, different services. Gmail has your whole professional and personal life, Adsense has your real name, address and bank details, Android has your exact location and specific apps, like health-related or even, your period tracker, everything! In short - Google has your whole life in your hands.

By linking your Google + account and your youtube account, it will give the final blow to any idea of privacy. If I link my accounts, all my friends and colleagues will know exactly what I watch, what things interest me, whether I watch gay-channels or alternative news channels or some health-related videos, what I think about them, what I like and so on. I don't want my friends to know this ! If or when I want it, I'll tell them, I'll share it and so on. But this has to be my choice! I don't want anyone googling my name to know what I think on politics! This is my private life, my constitutional right of political, religious and sexual freedom! If I have to share it with everyone, I will just create a second google account. I do not want and I won't share this information irrespectively with everyone I do or don't know!

In short, Google is very determined to force people into numerous fake identities, so that they can keep their real identity private! I read some nonsense comment on how this is done to curb the hate-comments. I find it quite impressive that someone actually buys this version. Google don't care about hate-comments or the quality of the comment. They care about their product. In the case - Google +, which for the moment is simply no competition for Facebook. And they believe, that by linking youtube with G+, they will promote G+. Well, let me tell you something. People won't start using G+ just because you forced them to. If you don't allow me to comment anonymously, I simply won't comment at all. And your precious youtube will lose activity, but also quality. Because haters and trolls have no problem creating 5 accounts and having a discussion with them. People who post normal, useful or informative comments do have such problem. I have no time to create new profile. If I do it, it will be from outrage. But you will lose from that, not me. Because I don't EARN from my comments and my blogs, you do!

Anonymity and privacy are not synonyms of occultism. People want to stay anonymous because they are not ready to share their opinion with everyone or prefer not to, because they don't have the time to argue. I've stopped myself from posting stuff on Facebook, because I know some of my friends are ready for a fight on this, and I don't feel like fighting. Why on Earth would you want to do that to youtube too?! Really sad.

And according to this poll, it seems like 99% of the people agree with me.  Oh, well.

The story of Edward Snowden circulates the news for almost a month now. Instead of the story growing bigger, however, the "citizens" seems to be growing tired of it. Contrary to the journalist's excitement, the people's comments, even anonymous, are quite scarce. And I don't understand why.  Why people are so quiet? Why my FB friends, quite politically alert people seem not to be interested? Ok, it is wrong to say "not interested", they are interested. But they seem to prefer not to comment on the story. Which I find weird.

Do they feel helpless? Do they feel disappointed? Do they feel afraid of the eventual consequences of their thoughts on the issue? Is this what the idea of democracy and free speech is? To be afraid of your comments on a perfectly legitimate story? If so, what is the point of everything, what is the point of having a government, if its sole purpose is to gain more and more power, instead of to fight for the well-being of its citizens?

I say this in the widest possible context. For a significant part of the people in the USA, it seems very normal and expected that the government won't be their friend, but their enemy. Funnily enough, the same goes for people in Russia, or China. But this was not how the people in Europe felt. And most of my friends are Europeans. Here, we believed in the freedom of speech, in the freedom to express your opinion, in the obligation of the government to serve its citizens' best interests. It is not an utopia. In every EU member state, the government offer various disappointments, corruption, manipulations. But people were not afraid to talk! People believed they have the ultimate right to talk, for any reason, on any issue, on any price. Maybe it was never true, maybe it was only a well-cared for facade, giving the people false sense of freedom. But it existed and worked well. Now, things seem to be changing. People who have carriers and dreams prefer to stay away from the heat, just in case. Which is wrong. If well-educated people don't take a stand for what they believe in, who will? I certainly miss the old Europe. The new one, is getting darker and darker by the minute. And the Snowden case exposed this like never before. Just like the Cyprus crisis did it before. I'm afraid to ask what is next. That's why I prefer to focus on Snowden and the silence. In a desperate attempt to wake up the people for the hidden threat.

Why I am so troubled? Because Edward Snowden risked so much to make those stories known to the world. I guess he kind of hoped to get a wide international support in the social networks, but instead, he got only silence. Those who were the most affected by what he revealed were the first to turn their back on him and pretend nothing happened. Who could have guessed...Even Avaaz, a well know and quite successful organization didn't make a popularized campaign in his defense. After googling for it, I've found it. Avaaz - Stand with Edward Snowden. Please sign it, if you feel for the cause. The journalists seem to be more interested on the way the authorities will get him or he will eventually escape, than on the reason why they are after him. It is like everybody is with eyes widely shut, just in case things get ugly. They like the drama, but they prefer to stay away from the essence. Journalists, governments, citizens, bloggers, everyone.

Well, before I continue, I need to say it, even if it will make unhappy all the known and unknown agencies crawling the web - Edward, thank you! I think you did the right thing! Maybe it won't bring you fame or even well-being, you sure risk your life for it, but still, it's worthy. Every effort to make the world a better place counts. Even if it is not successful. Even when it is controversial. Even when you cause so much trouble to the whole world of hypocrites, it counts. You try to make the right thing, you are not harming any living being, you deserve respect. So thank you for trying to open the eyes of the people!

Back to the rest of the world. I tried to analyse the situation, because I am amazed by the actions and inactions of all the affected parties.

At first, it was fun. The CIA was chasing him, president Putin was making fun of the situation (if you haven't watch this video, it is a must), all seemed normal.
Then it came the huge mess made of the Evo Morales trip. A president plane was denied airspace from France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, forcing the plane to land merely because of the RUMOUR that Snowden was on board. Humans lives were risked (!), international diplomacy was violated, a president and its nation was offended, a whole continent felt humiliated. All because of one person, who could (!!!) have been there. Why? With what that person is so important that he deserves all this attention and mess. Why would European nations decide to cooperate in something so obviously wrong, risking so much on a rumour?Because of one person who might get smuggled to Bolivia??? How many women are being smuggled everyday across the planet, to serve as white slaves? How many people are being taken to unknown prisons without any legal frame? How many tons of heroin and cocaine have been smuggled every day to and out of Europe? And now, for one single person, we get into a huge diplomatic scandal?! Note, all of the mentioned countries DENY refusing airspace to that plane. Only Spain half-mouthed admitted that they were notified of Snowden being aboard. But that was the second version of the response, because the first version was - "no, in the second we knew the plane is ready to take off, we allowed it to land in Spain". Go figure.

Now, I realise,for many people Mr. Snowden is a traitor, risking the US national security/interests. And I agree on that. He is a traitor to the US interests. But he is not a traitor to the US people. Because let's face it. This program does not improve significantly their security. The only thing it improves is the security of their government. Which the people may or may not be fine with. And they do have the right to decide.

What's even more striking, however, is that the US government was spying on everyone else on this planet too. So while Mr Snowden really do betray the US interests, he is defending the right of any other citizen on this planet on privacy. Something, which we in Europe value very much. Or at least we used to. Because the story doesn't finish there. And this might be the explanation why European authorities were so eager to catch Mr. Snowden and turn it to the USA, with a very likely death penalty - something which Europe is vehemently opposed.

Just read it :
"In an interview published in the German Der Spiegel magazine on Sunday, Mr Snowden said the NSA operates broad secret intelligence partnerships with other western governments, some of which are now complaining about its programs.
Snowden said that the other partners in the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance of the US, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand “sometimes go even further than the [National Security Agency] people themselves''.
He highlighted the British Government Communications Headquarters “Tempora” program as an example:“Tempora is the first 'I save everything' approach ('full take') in the intelligence world. It sucks in all data, no matter what it is, and which rights are violated by it. ..."
Snowden also argued that the “Five eyes” partnerships are organised so that authorities in each country can "insulate their political leaders from the backlash" when it became public "how grievously they're violating global privacy". " source 
and furthermore:
"X-Keyscore reportedly processes all signals before they are shunted off to various "production lines" that deal with specific issues and the exploitation of different data types for analysis - variously code-named Nucleon (voice), Pinwale (video), Mainway (call records) and Marina (Internet records). ' source 
This is a lot of traffic and a hell lot of data!  And it is in possession of one (ONE) government. A government who can use it, for whatever purpose it sees fit, without ANY form of control or oversight. How could this be right? It lacks judiciary control, it lacks political control, it lack civilian control. This is a recipe for a disaster! And the history has proven it.

One could argue that the US agencies share the information with their allies, so this is beneficiary to everyone. Well, it is not. Because they might share something, but surely they do not share everything.  European citizens are being observed, they sacrifice their privacy, they probably pay from their pockets for a great deal of those programs, but in return, they get very little.

Or, maybe I should say, they get a lot more than expected. As recent revelations show - the US spied EU offices (yes, the same allies we were talking a minute ago) and probably not only. Those are just the ones we heard of. John Kerry said 'Spying on allies is not unusual' and he's probably right. But still, as a European, I feel offended. France obviously also felt quite offended. As well as the UK and Germany (source). So are we friends, allies or enemies? and question number 2:  if those nations feel so offended, even outraged, why were they so happy to cooperate in trying to kill the person who pointed out this bad behaviour? Do this make sense to you?

The obvious answer is very simple and I think it was Der Spiegel who revealed it. They all spy on each other. We still remember the scandal of the Russian delegation (among others) being spied on by UK agencies on a G20 meeting (source). They all spy on their citizens. They just prefer the society not to know about it. What's even worst - they prefer the elected political officials not to know it. Those agencies are out of control. Out of ANY control. So my question is, if they are out of control, where is the guarantee they serve OUR interests? By our, I mean to the people who pay their salaries and whose security is their raison-d'etre. Because it's hard for me to just take their word on this. They are in kind of conflict of interests, I think.

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said the U.S. spying was 'out of control and that 'The U.S. would do better to monitor its intelligence services instead of its allies.'

Well, I would add ALL spying agencies are out of control. And this situation starts affecting people. People do feel scared to talk. We all knew Facebook is monitored, this is not news. The news is that there are dedicated, taxpayers-paid programs to record any bit of traffic over the Internet, the phones, everything!
Remember that freedom of private correspondence? The same which had been denied only during a war? Well, it doesn't exist anymore. In fact, no privacy exists anymore. Technology allowed it and the politicians never dared to catch up with it and to put the legal frame which will defend the citizens from abuse. This is the ultimate question with Edward Snowden posed! How to regulate the technology, so that it is beneficent for everyone. And this is the question from which everyone hides. Because once people start thinking about it, they will get very very scared. And they will require actions.

So this is why I hope Edward Snowden finds his way out. Because he deserves it. International politics has never been clear or nice. Of course, everybody spies everyone, this is part of the game. However now the balance is broken. Now (or soon enough) literally everybody will be spied on in every moment of their life. Every step we make, every word we say, every thought we dared to express will be recorded and kept forever (or for as long as it matters). Every job interview, every grant proposal, every project, every public appearance would be measured by all your previous actions. There will be no forgiveness, there will be no oblivion. And that could be fine, if it was for everyone. But it would not be. It would be only for the selected few who will have absolute power over everybody. And without control, any form of freedom, any form of personal choice will be obliterated. In fact, the democratic society will finally cease to exist.

If that is what you want, continue not to be interested. It is your choice and ours as a planet and civilization.

And I must say it - this time it is not a drill, it is not a conspiracy theory, it is not a paranoia. It is real. As real as it gets! We know it for a fact.
Thank you Edward for that! 

P.S.  Some additional links on the story. 
- Notice the arrogant comment on the UN secretary generalBan Ki-moon: "the  Edward Snowden's digital 'misuse' has created problems" (source)
- Snowden implicates Israel and NSA in the development of Stuxnet!(source)

-  Snowden Claims: NSA Ties Put German Intelligence in Tight Spot (source)
And finally: 
- Snowden made the right call when he fled the U.S. (source) - a key article of support to Ed Snowden by Daniel Ellsberg charged in 1971 under the Espionage Act as well as for theft and conspiracy for copying the Pentagon Papers. 
Snowden seems to have accepted the offer for asylum in Venezuela (source). The info, however, has not been really confirmed, besides a deleted tweet. Good luck, Edward!

As you may or may not know,  Ayahuasca is a strongly psychoactive plants mixture which got very popular in the last year or two, as a way to get in touch with a powerful benevolent creature, some saying maybe even the Mother Earth itself. It was promoted in a way by a person I highly respect - Graham Hancock, both in his highly controversial TEDx talk and on his FB profile. I guess it became popular trough other sources as well, because in the end, there was the phenomena Ayahuasca-tourism in which people travelled to the jungle to try the substance. There were many content people with incredible stories of personal insights, recovery, breaking down drug-addiction and so on, but there were also accidents like a child's sacrifice, and a death of a young man. So people started discussing the dark side of Ayahuasca and I felt compelled to also comment in this post, because I think there is a serious misunderstanding which can also be quite dangerous.

First, I need a clarification - I really respect Graham Hancock and happen to share his position that people should be free to explore their consciousness with or without additional substances. I don't agree with his radical liberality on drugs, because certain drugs, like heroin, should be banned because they do KILL people and they are an absolute danger to the society and the civilization. Others, however, do not fall in this category and have been used trough out history relatively safely. So I think an adult should have the choice to use them, if so s/he desires. Ayahuasca is one of those drugs. I am not a fan of such substances and in fact, I've never used any of them. But still, I believe people should be free to do so, if they believe it right. As long as they do not harm others, it's their body and their mind!

So please have in mind this. I am not pro-, I am not anti- sacred plants. I believe in freedom. And common sense.

What do I mean?
People, especially New Age people, have a tendency to naively believe the world is a beautiful place full of love and light, where nothing can harm them, just because they wish so. But this is not the case. The world is immensely beautiful place, the problem is that "harm" is not a word the Universe knows of or care of. In this world, light and darkness coexist, they are just the too sides of the same coin called free will! There is good inside us, but there are also shadows, traumatic memories and over all karmic energies which we keep one way or another in our subconsciousness in order to live our life normally. Any psychoactive substance amplifies such aspects of your psychic, because it breaks down the barriers which have kept them safely away. Which basically means, if you want to go really deep, you should be prepared to face the shadows inside you! And don't fool yourself, we all have them. Some can be merely unpleasant, some can be painful, some can be dangerous. Throughout our lives, they usually cyclically emerge and little by little we acknowledge them and let them go. But if you want to do something like this in few hours, you should be mentally prepared, it may get little or very ugly. In the end you will be liberated, but it won't come easily.

Then there is the external factor. I don't quite understand how anyone reaches to the vine, knowing s/he will connect to a higher entity and in the same time, denies the existence of all the other higher and lower entities?! And when there are other entities, you never know which one you will meet. This is so extremely important, and yet, people conveniently ignore it. It is a BIG Universe! There are many things, creatures, entities, energies, influences and so on lurking there. It's not like they wait just for YOU, which is why most people use such substances safely. But every now and then, you may encounter one of them. It might be a pleasant encounter, it might be educative, it might be rough, it might be dangerous. You never know. What you should know is that you should be prepared for anything and you should be ready to fight for it.
This is why, such substances should be handled with extreme care and not all the spiritual-seekers dare to use them.
I don't mean to discourage anyone, but I also don't mean to encourage anyone to try it. It is a personal choice. But by considering this (or any) substance sacred, 
you get this feeling of false safety. Well, in this reality, you're never ever safe, unless you're ready to accept anything the world throws at you. And when it happens, you shouldn't complain - you laid your faith into something and you should accept what follows and do the best you can to get out of the situation a better person. Those are the rules of the game.

Once you decide you seek higher truth, you should be ready for it!
And I really don't think those things were well explained to people wanting to try such plants. They talk about the medical risks, but the risks are not merely medical. There is a whole world out there and without a good guide, we simply don't know what the rules are, we don't know how to stay relatively safe, we don't know anything and we need to find out the hard way. It's absurd, for me, to go try that kind of drug, with the idea, it's supposed to be fun and safe. Playing on the computer in your home is fun and safe, playing with your mind is not. Never forget it! 

That said, it's not also that dangerous, not in the majority of the cases. But people should be aware of what they are, where their comfort zone is and how much they are willing to take in their quest for truth and knowledge. Because, there are also other, safer ways to do the same. Like meditation.

But even in Eastern tradition, people emphasize on the purity of the mind, heart and soul, and on not seeking intentionally the siddhas (the super-powers and the "fireworks"). Because they are merely a side effect, not the goal of the journey. In Western traditions (like Hermeticism), people also are quite careful and use protection rituals and cleansing procedures. It's just necessary to take precautions, because you never know what lurks in the dark (or in the light). 

Finally, there is the human factor. People, please use common sense when doing something requiring supervision by an unknown person. Not all of them are good, not all of them are people. It's like going to a doctor - if you see s/he is a jerk and have serious reasons to believe s/he's doing something wrong, are you going to simply wait for the worst to happen?! People are people. That someone know more, that someone can do more, physically or not, is not an evidence of his/her benevolence! Be careful and be smart! It's not like we don't have enough examples of bad priests in the Christian churches.

So in conclusion, I'd like to emphasize something. Never, absolutely NEVER underestimate the world out there. It's vast, it's diverse, it's endless. It has existed for eons longer than we have. Always be careful with what you do.

And also never underestimate yourself. We are much older, bigger and smarter than we know. But our real selves are something for us to discover in the process of uncovering the same outer world. So never, even for one second believe you're safe. And never ever for one second believe you're in danger. Because even death is only a new beginning. But it's best to avoid it for as long as possible, right?

If I may finish with a simple example - imagine the "spiritual" world, like a walk in the jungle. There are all those animals, known or unknown, plants - poisonous or not, insects, snakes, even people - good or evil. If you are well equipped and armed and careful and polite (with strangers), there is a very good chance your walk will be great. Even if you don't have the proper arms or boots, you may pass safely if you're careful and/or know the way. But counting only on your's simply not the best way to do it. So simply be intelligent, the Universe will take care of the rest.

The other world, 2013

These days, I read some quite troubling articles. The world seems to be going in a very awkward direction. The EU urges Cyprus to nationalize the money in its bank deposits, the US allows civil use of drones by the police, US politicians try to ban the anonymous comments in Internet, some secret spy agencies give to NASA a 15 years old satellite with mirrors as big as Hubble's aimed at the Earth's surface, with technology beyond the current one, and in the meantime, a huge percentage of the South American leaders (and maybe not only) are sick with cancer (?!?). What's going on?
Well, I can't tell you what's going on, but I know something is awfully wrong. When a civilization reaches its limit of destruction, it starts regressing. And right now, I think we are pretty close. When the human life loses its meaning, and death becomes just another tool, the dark ages are coming. You could argue that the value of human life has always been relative, but there always has been some idea of "own/ours" vs "the others". When you start killing off your own people on a global scale, that can't be good.
And the biggest problem is that people just won't see it. The crisis has produced such wide-spread misery, cutting money flow in so many intellectual fields, that the educated people who must had seen this coming are basically blind. Or too scared to talk. So what is left for the rest of the population.
I won't focus on politics today, even though, it is implied. I know you've probably had enough of politics for your next 3 lives.
I'd like to move your attention from our world, to the other world. Because certainly there is another world. World obeying different rules, different norms and whispering different moral. Or maybe the moral is the same everywhere, we just need to see its essence in the multitude life-stories around us.
So here is this other world. The world where half of the population of a country has practically no rights. Where that part of the population needs to be constantly observed, "protected", limited, oppressed for its own safety. Yes, you can guess it, I'm speaking of the Arab world.
You can read the news below. I'd just like to point out something. The countries we're talking about are all US allies. They are countries which have been either democratized or pointed as a good example (in the case of Turkey). Yet, we see how democracy in those countries has strangely different taste than in ours (if we believe we have democracy in USA or EU that is). With all its power, the USA and its allies have not brought well-being to this second half of the population of those countries. They've brought them just lies. Lies of a better and more equal life. Beautiful images of modern life and of freedom which never came true.
And yet we don't care. We think of the ruins of our well-ordered life. And weep. But we never think of those women. Of their lives. Of the way they need to adapt in order to survive. We cry over our money or loss of job or security, yet a HUGE number of humans on this planet live well below our own standards for well-being. We ignore them, because it is easier. But as the last article points out, that may be wrong. Because sooner or later, we'll have to deal with that. And if the change from sexy uniforms to Ottoman-style long dresses happened in less than 30 years, what can we expect for our own world? Can we resist the crash with this different civilisation? Do we have the identity to withstand the pressure to change our own values? Are we ready to protect them, at any cost?
People look for comfort in all kind of different places, religion in particular. Christianity, however, has been wounded deeply by all the scandals and lack of understanding for the problems and needs of the ordinary people. Then, people would look at other direction. Newer, different, seducing them with moral they like but never dared to require. Giving them a new line to draw between themselves and the sick society. I do believe in religious freedom, the problem comes when there is no strategy on national level, or European level if we speak of the EU. When the politicians turn rogue, ordinary people need sanctuary. Squeezed between our own crazy politicians, the young, rich and religious Arab world and the huge, even richer, but free of religion China, I'm not sure where we can hide, how we can resist. I'm not sure what place this world is going to be in 10 years. Latin America offered a good way out of the situation. Yet, its leaders seem to have very bad luck with their health. And the rest of the western civilization actually rejoiced, when one of those leaders, who fought for solidarity and freedom from the big money, died. Why intelligent people would fail to see the rebirth of humanity in South America is beyond me.
In any case, the best answer, instead of thinking where to run and hide is to work on our problems while we can. A Belgian MP LAURENT LOUIS said it very well in his speech. I think we all know where the problem is. We just need to find a way to stop it. Just to say NO to all those crazy bastards which are trying to rob us of our humanity, of our values, of our dreams, all in the name of the big money and their masters. Just stop believing the easy thing and start looking for the truth behind their words. It is there. I mean, whatever they tell you, if it will harm big groups of people of any gender, class, social status or education, it is very likely to be a lie. We all know what good and right is -- to create wealth and happiness without harming others. We just need to start requiring this from our leaders. If we want, 10 years from now, our life to be better, that is.  

  1. Muslim Brotherhood’s Statement on Women Stirs Liberals’ Fears 
  2. 2 Afghan Sisters, Swept Up in a Suicide Wave 
  3. Turks Debate Modest Dress Set for Takeoff 
  4. Election Spurred a Move to Codify U.S. Drone Policy
  5. Sunni Leaders Gaining Clout in Mideast

Muslim Brotherhood’s Statement on Women Stirs Liberals’ Fears

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and MAYY EL SHEIKH Published: March 14, 2013  CAIRO — During its decades as an underground Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood has long preached that Islam required women to obey their husbands in all matters.   “A woman needs to be confined within a framework that is controlled by the man of the house,” Osama Yehia Abu Salama, a Brotherhood family expert, said of the group’s general approach, speaking in a recent seminar for women training to become marriage counselors. Even if a wife were beaten by her husband, he advised, “Show her how she had a role in what happened to her.”
Now, with a leader of the Brotherhood’s political arm in Egypt’s presidential palace and its members dominating Parliament, some deeply patriarchal views the organization has long taught its members are spilling into public view. The Brotherhood’s strident statements are reinforcing fears among many Egyptian liberals about the potential consequences of the group’s rise to power. 
In a statement Wednesday on a proposed United Nations declaration to condemn violence against women, the Brotherhood issued a list of objections, which formally laid out its views on women for the first time since it came to power. In its statement, the Brotherhood said that wives should not have the right to file legal complaints against their husbands for rape, and husbands should not be subject to the punishments meted out for the rape of a stranger. A husband must have “guardianship” over his wife, not an equal “partnership” with her, the group declared. Daughters should not have the same inheritance rights as sons. Nor should the law cancel “the need for a husband’s consent in matters like travel, work or use of contraception”.
In an interview on Thursday, Pakinam El-Sharkawy, President Morsi’s political adviser and Egypt’s representative last week at the United Nations commission, sought to distance the Morsi administration from the Brotherhood’s statement. The Brotherhood, she emphasized, does not speak for the president;" source

2 Afghan Sisters, Swept Up in a Suicide Wave

By AZAM AHMED, Published: March 11, 2013 MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — On the surface, the Gul sisters seemed to have it all: they were young, beautiful, educated and well off, testing the bounds of conservative Afghan traditions with fitted jeans, makeup and cellphones. 
But Nabila Gul, 17, a bright and spunky high school student, pushed it too far. She fell in love. Her older sister, Fareba, 25, alarmed at the potential shame and consequences, tried to intervene. Their argument that November day ended in grief: side-by-side coffins, both girls dead within hours of each other after consuming rat poison stolen from their father’s grain closet. 
For many, the deaths have come to symbolize a larger crisis: an intensifying wave of suicide attempts. Although the government says it does not collect data on these cases, the city’s main hospital says it has been overwhelmed, with three or four such patients co ming in every day, up from about one or two a month a decade ago. The number of attempts has grown with such speed that the head of investigations for the police, Col. Salahudin Sultan, says he can no longer follow up on them. source

Turks Debate Modest Dress Set for Takeoff

By TIM ARANGO Published: February 24, 2013 ISTANBUL — When flight attendants first rode aboard Turkish Airlines in the late 1940s they wore cotton blouses under blue suits tailored to accentuate “the contours of the body,” as a fashion history of the airline puts it. In the ’60s and ’70s the trend continued with fashions straight off the Paris runway.   Now, the country’s shifting mores are reflected in a proposed new look: long dresses, skirts below the knee and Ottoman-style fez caps.
The dispute was only heightened after the airline said it was banning alcohol on some domestic and international flights.  Others slammed the new look as too conservative, a transparent effort to please the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The party’s decade-long run in power has wrought changes in the traditionally secular culture, like the acceptance of Islamic head scarves in public and on college campuses and restrictions on alcohol in certain places.  source 

Election Spurred a Move to Codify U.S. Drone Policy

Published: November 24, 2012  WASHINGTON — Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.
The administration is still pushing to make the rules formal and resolve internal uncertainty and disagreement about exactly when lethal action is justified.
Though publicly the administration presents a united front on the use of drones, behind the scenes there is longstanding tension. The Defense Department and the C.I.A. continue to press for greater latitude to carry out strikes; Justice Department and State Department officials, and the president’s counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, have argued for restraint, officials involved in the discussions say.
Partly because United Nations officials know that the United States is setting a legal and ethical precedent for other countries developing armed drones, the U.N. plans to open a unit in Geneva early next year to investigate American drone strikes.
Though national security officials insist that the process is meticulous and lawful, the president and top aides believe it should be institutionalized, a course of action that seemed particularly urgent when it appeared that Mitt Romney might win the presidency. But by many accounts, there has been a significant shift in the nature of the targets. In the early years, most strikes were aimed at ranking leaders of Al Qaeda thought to be plotting to attack the United States. But for at least two years in Pakistan  most strikes have been directed at militants whose main battle is with the Pakistani authorities or who fight with the Taliban against American troops in Afghanistan.
In Yemen, some strikes apparently launched by the United States killed militants who were preparing to attack Yemeni military forces. Then there is the matter of strikes against people whose identities are unknown.  Experts say the strikes are deeply unpopular both in Pakistan and Yemen, in part because of allegations of large numbers of civilian casualties, which American officials say are exaggerated.

Sunni Leaders Gaining Clout in Mideast

RAMALLAH, West Bank — For years, the United States and its Middle East allies were challenged by the rising might of the so-called Shiite crescent, a political and ideological alliance backed by Iran that linked regional actors deeply hostile to Israel and the West. But uprising, wars and economics have altered the landscape of the region, paving the way for a new axis to emerge, one led by a Sunni Muslim alliance of Egypt, Qatar and Turkey.
For the United States and Israel, the shifting dynamics offer a chance to isolate a resurgent Iran. But the gains are also tempered, because these Sunni leaders also  promote a radical religious-based ideology that has fueled anti-Western sentiment around the region.
But otherwise confusion reigns in terms of knowing how to deal with this new paradigm, one that could well create societies infused with religious ideology that Americans find difficult to accept. The new reality could be a weaker Iran, but a far more religiously conservative Middle East that is less beholden to the United States. Already, Islamists have been empowered in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, while Syria’s opposition is being led by Sunni insurgents, including a growing number identified as jihadists, some identified as sympathizing with Al Qaeda. Qatar, which hosts a major United States military base, also helps finance Islamists all around the region. In Egypt, President Mohamed Morsi resigned as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood only when he became head of state, but he still remains closely linked with the movement. Turkey, the model for many of them, has kept strong relations with Washington while diminishing the authority of generals who were longstanding American allies.  source

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