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In December 2013, Turkish authorities arrested the sons of several prominent cabinet ministers on bribery, embezzlement, and smuggling charges. Investigators claimed that the men were contributing members in a conspiracy to illicitly trade Turkish gold for Iranian oil gas (an act which, among other things, violates the spirit of United Nations’ sanctions targeting Tehran). The scheme purportedly netted a vast fortune in proceeds in the form of dividends and bribes. Among those suspected of benefiting from the trade was Prime Minister (now President) Tayyip Erdoğan and members of his family. The firestorm from this scandal was initially so furious many feared that Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party would not survive its implications. Yet as of this September, the investigation into this scandal has all but come to an end. The officials involved in propagating and executing the investigation have all been dismissed or transferred. Consequently, virtually all charges related to the case have been dropped.
Most of the analysis of this scandal has focused upon the political implications of the arrests and the subsequent purges of Turkey’s national police force. Events since December have indeed underscored the intense levels of strife within Turkey’s governing institutions as well as the growing authoritarian tendencies of the country’s ruling party. Yet Turkey’s “oil for gold” corruption scandal also illuminates fundamental, yet long-standing, aspects of the relationship between prominent illicit trades and the country’s politics.
Turkey’s black market, by all accounts, is exceeding large and highly lucrative. As a country sitting at a major intersection in global commerce, Turkey acts as a spring, valve and spigot for multiple illicit industries. Weapons, narcotics and undocumented migrants, as well as contraband carpets, petroleum, cigarettes, and precious metals all pass in and through the country’s borders on a regular basis. Official statistics on cigarette smuggling offer a few hints of the extent of smuggling in and out of Turkey. According to Interior Ministry sources, Turkish seizures of smuggled cigarettes grew fourteen fold between 2009 and 2012 (with ten million cigarettes seized in 2009 and over 145 million in 2012). In January of this year, Bulgarian customs officials purportedly confiscated fourteen million cigarettes illegally imported from Turkey in one seizure alone. The numbers of arrests for cigarette smuggling has also climbed precipitously, with over 4000 people arrested in 2009 and over 24000 arrests in 2012.
Organized crime takes other forms in Turkey. Criminal networks, builders, and lawmakers have been known to violate laws governing land sales, usage, building safety, and contracting. Bribes and kickbacks to government officials and regulators historically have been essential elements in the rapid building projects undertaken throughout the country for much of the last century. Charges levied against the managers of Istanbul’s Fenerbahce soccer club stand as an example of the match fixing and extortion scandals that have rocked professional sports in Turkey in recent years. Gangsters and extortionists, known as kabadayı, have been counted among Turkey’s most noted and notorious figures in the public spotlight. All in all, organized criminal trades have generated an untold number of fortunes for a select few and have provided a subsistence living for an even larger number of average citizens for a very long time in Turkey.
If Tayyip Erdoğan and his family did glean a great fortune as a result of illicit doings (which some reports claim to amount to total in the tens of millions of dollars), Turkey’s president joins a fairly sizable host of Turkish politicians who have benefited from organized criminal trades. American officials in the 1950s, for example, secretly suspected that noted members of Adnan Menderes’ Democratic Party had protected major Turkish heroin traffickers. During the 1970s, at least four members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly were official charged with attempting to transport heroin abroad. Other politicians from this era, including one-time Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, were unofficially suspected of engaging in the drug trade but never charged. Accusations of theft and corruption especially dogged the governments of the tumultuous 1990s. Tansu Ciller, the country’s first female prime minister, was implicated in organized criminal activity both before and after she was first elected to office. Tayyip Erdoğan’s JDP came to power in 2002 with the promise of bringing discipline and respectability to politics. Yet even as recent as last year, a regional JDP chairman was implicated in trading in heroin in the province of Van. The revelations of December 2013 now has many in Turkey convinced that the JDP is as dirty and corruptible as any of the parties that had preceded it.
Erdoğan’s ability to deflect last year’s corruption charges has not put the specter of smuggling and corruption to rest. Local media reports and other studies suggest that the Syrian civil war has stimulated a surge in smuggling along Turkey’s southern border. It is now estimated that fuel, cigarette, and cell phone smuggling has risen by 314%, 135%, and 563% respectively since the war began. The initial efforts to arm and maintain resistance groups in Syria were deeply indebted to Turkey’s smuggling trade. As smuggling continues, it is clear that some groups have attempted to tax trade into and out of Syria (al-Nusrah, for example, purportedly levies a fee of 500 Syrian lira for every barrel of fuel that crosses the border). What this means for the present and future of Turkey’s government is not entirely clear. Suggestions that Ankara has allowed for the passage of large numbers of foreign fighters into Syria has cast doubt over the country’s police and customs officials stationed on its borders (particularly after the official purges earlier this year). Trading schemes and corruption allegations like those revealed in December may yet again manifest themselves considering what international watchdogs call Turkey’s “grey” status as a state with loose embezzlement and money laundering controls. Whether these trends will dent the image of Tayyip Erdoğan or upend JDP control over Turkey remains to be seen.
Headline Image: Turkish flag photo by Abigail Powell. CC BY-NC 2.0 by Flickr
What’s on my mind?
Indigenous peoples and their worry about being over run by other populations I guess could sum it up.
I suppose if cougars, wolves, elephants and such learned to shoot guns or band together better they would kick out the human populations who have transgressed on their land but as people go I believe we need to understand the reason for others unlawfully entering areas already overpopulated.
Overpopulation where they come from, economic despair, greed, the making of money into a God and the lust for power over others seem to be good places to start .
Seems to me that as people from a planet with finite resources we need to try to make all places a good place to live so people want to stay where they are. Make everywhere a good place to be.
Sharing with others does not have to mean give away my happiness but it could mean helping you gain yours. I hope I can do that with more than one other and if we all did it for just two other people it would cure the problem in my mind at least.
"It's our diamond birthday," my oldest friend Jean announced to me earlier this year. So me and the Queen - we arrived at the same point together somehow. There was no escaping it. On May 31st 2012 I would join the ranks of old codgers, senior citizens, OAPs, and the worse thing? I won't even get my freedom pass until July 2014. The only way to cope was to plan a zillion celebrations - just like the Queen. I invited some of my writer friends over for what I called, 'A writer's brunch' in the garden. They loved it! We drank Prosecco and talked about books and I even thought of making a speech. Fortunately I abandoned that idea quickly and read a poem instead. No, I didn't take photos and plaster them all over Facebook. We just relaxed and enjoyed each other's company. Although I didn't get any diamonds ( because I became one??) I got some great presents. This one could have been from the Queen I suppose. Actually it was from another friend, Liz, who went diamond the month before me. "Its got your dates on it," she quipped.
My lovely husband ( who gave me far too many presents) has discovered that you can get pictures onto mugs. So here is one of his presents ( the patriotic teapot is from my daughter.)
We all went out for lunch and suddenly, after the meals, my daughter says, "Turn round mum." And there was the cake. I was speechless ( unusual for me!)
The waitress was giving me such strange looks so I said, "Don't worry, its my book cover." She smiled with relief. So if you are about to go diamond here are three tips : 1. Ignore the friends who gasp in horror - they don't mean anything, its just such a big number and everyone wants to be 40 something these days ( yeah, even the 20 somethings - don't ask me!) 2. Have lots of little parties and celebrations, it helps you to absorb the impact coming up to meet you. 3. And make sure you get your book cover on a cake - its utterly amazing!
I'm happy for you to comment, but don't feel you ALL have to wish me happy birthday - there was loads on Facebook and we don't want to clog ABBA up.
I must admit when I started to write my cycle of three novels set on Hayling Island ( off the south coast of England), Hidden, Illegal, Stuffed - I didn’t give a thought to Shakespeare, but somehow the Bard has presented himself on the Island in more ways than one. As a natural fan I have embraced it with open arms.
Hamlet appeared first. Perhaps I should say here that apart from being one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, as far as I’m concerned Hamlet is a teenager, about to be sent over to school in England and this is why he never really takes the plunge and avenges his father’s murder. When writing, Illegal, with the main character Lindy Bellows as a vulnerable lonely girl from a dysfunctional family, I decided that Hamlet is the play she’s studying in school. At the back of my mind I had a quote from an article written at the time Paul Schofield died, which described Hamlet as a ‘spiritual fugitive.’ But that altered in my mind to ‘spiritual refugee’ and my image was born. Lindy starts to think of herself as a spiritual refugee in the first chapter and this image continues throughout the book. When she teams up with fellow misfit Karl, who has been mute for two years, she tells him he’s also a spiritual refugee.
However, I am not keen on books which take well known plays or books and put them centre stage. I kept a firm grip on the role of Hamlet in Illegal. Lindy is not about to turn into a literary boffin. My point was that even the most unlikely of students can be captured by the greatest literature and find something which is significant to their own lives. This is what happens to Lindy. She doesn’t suddenly become an expert on Shakespeare, but throughout the novel there is a strand which moves to the foreground from time to time because Lindy has identified with this particular Shakespeare character in her own way.
2 Comments on Othello and Hamlet on Hayling Island by Miriam Halahmy, last added: 3/28/2012
It began with the best of intentions. Worried about the effects of alcohol on American families, mothers and civic leaders started a movement to outlaw drinking in public places.
Over time, their protests, petitions, and activism paid off—when a Constitional Amendment banning the sale and consumption of alcohol was ratified, it was hailed as the end of public drunkenness, alcoholism, and a host of other social ills related to booze.
Instead, it began a decade of lawlessness, when children smuggled (and drank) illegal alcohol, the most upright citizens casually broke the law, and a host of notorious gangsters entered the public eye.
Check out the Bootleg book page, where you can download a chapter excerpt, read the author's epilogue, and sneak a peak at the glossary accompanying the book!
As we peek into the future to see just what life will be like in the UK in 2020, a grim sight lies before us…
Power is now firmly in the hands on the heavily armed, tear-away children, nurtured by the recent Labour government, and statistics show over half the population is now Muslim. Christianity is an underground religion, practiced secretly, for fear of retribution, and the NHS has decided it will ONLY treat foreigners. Council houses are reserved exclusively for gypsies, asylum-seekers and paedophiles. And education (in the areas it’s still available face-to-face) is a guarded operation, with the teacher sitting behind bullet-proof glass and children wearing full body-armour (with an army of translators at the ready). Adults have resorted to leaving their boarded-up homes only in large gangs, or in tanks provided by the army. (The army is now boasting such fine military planners as the two prospective young terrorists recently found not guilty of planning toblow up their school, after hoping to kill hundreds of their innocent schoolmates.)
The newly elected Lib-Dem goverrnment - voted inafter the late Conservative leader, David Cameron, was discovered to be nothing but a holographic image, projected by the President of America (as was Tony Blair), in order to control our country from afar – are using the military police to import illegal drugs, bought from the Afghan government, in order to keep the children on the streets as calm as possible. They still believe there’s some way out ofthis mess.
Anyone who was able jumped ship years ago. Now only the poorest remain, along with the millions of half-blind elderly people who’ve been imprisoned for failing to pay the fines handed out for recycling offences (such as accidentally disposing of a potato peeling in the box designated for tin cans).
As we peek into the future to see just what life will be like in the UK in 2020, a grim sight lies before us…
Power is now firmly in the hands on the heavily armed, tear-away children, nurtured by the recent Labour government, and statistics show over half the population is now Muslim. Christianity is an underground religion, practiced secretly, for fear of retribution, and the NHS has decided it will ONLY treat foreigners. Council houses are reserved exclusively for gypsies, asylum-seekers and paedophiles; inner-city areas resemble scenes from District 9.
Education (in the areas it’s still available face-to-face) is a guarded operation, with the teacher sitting behind bullet-proof glass and children wearing full body-armour (with an army of translators at the ready). Adults have resorted to leaving their boarded-up homes only in large gangs, or in tanks provided by the army. (The army is now boasting such fine military planners as the two prospective young terrorists recently found not guilty of planning to blow up their school, hoping to kill hundreds of innocent school friends and teachers.)
The newly elected Lib-Dem government - voted in after the late Conservative leader, David Cameron, was discovered to be nothing but a holographic image, projected by the President of America (as was Tony Blair), in order to control our country from afar – are using the military police to import illegal drugs, bought from the Afghan government, in order to keep the children on the streets as calm as possible. They still believe there’s some way out of this mess…
Anyone who was able to jumped ship years ago. Now only the poorest remain, along with millions of half-blind elderly people who were imprisoned for failing to pay the fines handed out for their recycling offences (such as accidentally disposing of a potato peeling in the box designated for tin cans).
Elvin Lim is Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University and author of The Anti-intellectual Presidency, which draws on interviews with more than 40 presidential speechwriters to investigate this relentless qualitative decline, over the course of 200 years, in our presidents’ ability to communicate with the public. He also blogs at www.elvinlim.com. In the article below he looks at the national immigration debate. See Lim’s previous OUPblogs here.
Immigration is likely to become the new theater of the culture wars because Arizona’s new immigration law has further nationalized the immigration issue. Illegal immigrants in the state would be more likely to move to nearby states like Texas and California, and especially to those cities where sanctuary ordinances have been passed. Since immigrants settle disproportionately in California, New York, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Illinois, we would expect these states to be most affected by Arizona’s new law.
Arizona is correct, then, that there can be no state solution to the illegal immigration problem. But that is not so say that the state is doing anything to alleviate the problem by taking things into its own hands. In fact, Arizona’s new law is only going to worsen the national problem.
What is missing in the contemporary debate is the asymmetry of support for legal sanctions against those who are here illegally, but not against those who hire illegally, namely businesses who hire illegal (and also lawyers and lobbyists who help them defend the conditions which make this possible). This puts the illegal immigrant in the worst of all worlds, harassed and harangued by the law, and in no position to bargain with prospective employers who are still relatively free to hire them at any price because of half-hearted enforcement of the Legal Arizona Workers Act. This puts downward pressure on wages, and even more native animus against illegal immigrants.
If Arizona is serious about controlling illegal immigration, it should proactively punish employers who hire illegals rather than focus its energies on a hit-and-miss strategy of authorizing law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of suspicious persons. This policy would then escape the “racial profiling” controversy because employers would have to check the immigration status of all potential employees (and not just those who look a certain way). It is somewhat disingenuous for Arizona to disproportionately target illegal immigrants but not legal citizens acting illegally, for at the very least this asymmetry about our tolerance of different kinds of illegality tells us that Arizona’s law isn’t purely about respect for the law qua law. Rather than focus on the supply of illegals, shouldn’t the state equally address the demand thereof?
The national immigration debate, which has currently centered on racial profiling, misses out on this central defect of federal immigration policy, which is that we focus too much on border security and not enough on the glaring fact that over a third of illegal immigrants became illegal because they over-stayed their visas, and the only reason why they could afford to do so was because they were able to find employment.
President Obama was wise, nevertheless, to have taken immigration reform off his agenda for this year, for if he hadn’t, Congress would have been forced to enact a quick-fix law that would have exacerbated the pathologies of our current immigration regime. In the long run, t
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has caused concern for many reasons, such as secret negotiations and controversial provisions. Today, more than 70 law professors sent a letter to President Obama asking that he “direct the [U.S. Trade Representative] to halt its public endorsement of ACTA and subject the text to a meaningful participation process that can influence the shape of the agreement going forward.”
Despite this beneficial attention, one clause has slipped under the radar. Article 2.14 of ACTA would require participating nations to “ensure that criminal liability for aiding and abetting is available.”
This liability would apply to parties that assist others in engaging in “willful . . . copyright . . . piracy on a commercial scale.” Such scale includes “commercial activities for direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage.” These terms are not defined in the agreement. As a result, it would appear that any activity that would give an “indirect” commercial advantage (including the downloading of a single copyrighted song) could lead to criminal liability.
While such a consequence would appear severe, it is not even the most concerning part of Article 2.14. That distinction is reserved for the “aiding and abetting” basis for liability. Any party that plays a role in assisting infringement could be liable for criminal liability. The identity of such parties is worrisome: Personal computer manufacturers. Electronic device makers. Search engine operators. Each of these entities could play a role, however indirect, in contributing to copyright infringement.
Although copyright’s secondary liability law is not a model of clarity, courts have sought to ground its elements in balanced policies. Judicial tests have asked if devices have noninfringing uses (Sony). If the party has knowledge and materially contributed to the activity (contributory infringement). If it has a financial interest and the right to control (vicarious liability). If it has an intent to induce infringement (Grokster).
Aiding-and-abetting liability lacks such nuance. It is borrowed from criminal law. And it is used to punish those who assisted in the crime. The getaway driver. The fraudulent check presenter. The cocaine distributor. In the criminal law arena, such liability reaches broadly to deter true criminal conduct.
In the context of secondary copyright liability, in contrast, such a standard is not appropriate. Not when copyright is subject to competing public policies. Not when technologies could be held criminally liable for allowing search, performance, or retrieval. Not when these monumentally significant issues—which would dramatically expand U.S. liability—were never even debated.
In 2004, Congress considered adding “aiding and abetting” liability to copyright law. Its attempt, the Induce Act, failed. The secretive ACTA is not an appropriate vehicle to circumvent this failure and dramatically expand secondary liability.
A promise that we would be together on my fifteenth birthday...
Instead, Nora is on a desperate journey far away from home. When her father leaves their beloved Mexico in search of work, Nora stays behind. She fights to make sense of her loss while living in poverty—waiting for her father's return and a better day.
When the letters and money stop coming, Nora decides that she and her mother must look for him in Texas. After a frightening experience crossing the border, the two are all alone in a strange place. Now, Nora must find the strength to survive while aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and her precious quinceañera.
4 Comments on Illegal - Review, last added: 3/19/2011
The criminal investigation of former Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards for secretly funneling money to his ex-lover Rielle Hunter is moving toward a conclusion, and there is a good chance he will be indicted if federal prosecutors can link the payments to his campaign committee or find that contributors were deceived about the purpose of the donations.
Voicemails released by North Carolina television station WTVD show Edwards’ connection to keeping his affair with Ms. Hunter secret. An NBC New report in February disclosed that federal prosecutors were planning to take the deposition of one of the sources of nearly $1 million used to keep Ms. Hunter out of sight while she was pregnant with their child.
The investigation into payments made to Ms. Hunter while Mr. Edwards was running for the 2008 Democratic nomination for President has been going on for almost two years. According to campaign records, she was purportedly paid for producing campaign videos. A former top aide to Mr. Edwards, Andrew Young, originally claimed to be the father of the child, but has now turned on his former boss and described in detail how large sums were provided to support Ms. Hunter, who is not a target of the investigation.
Sex scandals involving politicians normally just end the person’s political career, at least in this country. And paying off a secret lover to buy silence is not normally a crime, at least when the politician uses his own money. According to Mr. Young, however, the money came from wealthy donors, including $700,000 from Rachel “Bunny” Melloon, an aged wealthy patron of Mr. Edwards, who gave personal checks hidden in candy boxes.
The funds provided for Ms. Hunter pose a problem for Mr. Edwards if the money was collected for his presidential campaign committee and instead was tapped to make payments on her behalf, or even given directly to her. Politicians once viewed their campaign accounts as something akin to a personal piggy bank, and the money can still be used for a number of things that have little to do with actually running for office, like paying for an attorney to defend against an ethics investigation or even a criminal investigation.
Mr. Edwards would not be the target of a grand jury investigation were it not for a provision added to the federal campaign finance laws in 2002 as part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. That law, codified at 2 U.S.C. § 439a, states that a campaign contribution or donation “shall not be converted by any person to personal use.” The statute contains a list of uses that would be considered “personal,” such as buying clothes or paying for a vacation. While it does not specifically list payments to an ex-lover to keep the person quiet while running for President, that would certainly seem to come within the term “personal use.”
The issue for prosecutors is whether the money passed through Mr. Edwards’ campaign committee, or whether it was simply presented to donors as a way to “support” the candidate but never intended to be a campaign contribution. Federal law imposes strict reporting requirements on campaign contributions, and limits donations to an individual candidate to $2,500. The amount of money collected on behalf of Ms. Hunter clearly exceeded statutory limitations, which may show that the payments were never meant to be related directly to Mr. Edwards’ short-lived campaign for the presidency. Apart from the campaign finance issue is the question of whether financial support provided to Ms. Hunter was properly reported a
Bettina Restrepo's Illegal has a windswept but urban cover, which is an intriguing combination, I think. The book is about a girl whose father crossed the boarder from Mexico to the US three years ago. They've stopped hearing from him, so she and her mother make the hard decision to follow him into Texas and try to find him.
"For the cover, I imagined two trailer-truck doors with the title in graffiti. But, I also knew that the art directors they have at HarperCollins could design something beyond my expectations. I only have a silly picture I drew (below). This is why I don't even try to suggest art. I leave the art to the experts.
"I received pictures of the shirt the model wore and they asked if it was okay (it was, I have one similar to it!). Then, when the font came out wonky and Frankensteinish (below) - they quickly agreed [with my objections] and came back with the beautiful barbed wire font.
"They asked me if I like royal blue or the purple. Hands down - purple..."