politics

TBT, speaking at The Commonwealth Club & signing my book

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This talk "The Rise of Turkey" was moved to a larger room (about 100 in the audience and live-streaming the podcast to Commonwealth Club members everywhere) and we ran out of books to sign right away. 

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I was joined on the panel by:

  • Steven West, Ph.D., Fulbright Scholar to Turkey; Professor of Turkish Studies and Cross Cultural Communication
  • Bonnie Joy Kaslan, Honorary Consul General, Turkish Republic, S.F. Bay Area
  • Joel Brinkley, Professor of Journalism, Stanford University; Foreign Affairs Columnist; Former Pulitzer Prize Winning Foreign Correspondent, The New York Times — Moderator


Amidst the turmoil of the Arab Spring, Turkey has arisen as a powerful force in the Middle East. The distinguished panel will discuss the nation's culture and its sometimes bitter past, the growing influence of religion in Turkey, and her frayed alliances. In addition, the panelists will discuss how Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's dynamic prime minister, is becoming one of the most powerful voices in the troubled region.
 

You can listen to the podcast  here .

You can listen to the podcast here.

What we mean when we say "Berkeley"

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Much of what I and my Berkeley-native peers experienced growing up there was being duplicated in alternative communities everywhere, and also much of it was a product of the times. We didn't know that.

Berkeley is revealed in its "byzantine cultural complexity" by secular Jewish homegirl author of new book about going undercover in Jerry Falwell's evangelical church.

"If you’re from Berkeley...you know the muscle of the Berkeley Left is actually made up of a million fibers, often flexing at cross purposes — the Green Partiers, the Clintonites, the Obamaphiles, the Slow Foodists and Dumpster Divers, the Second and Third Wave feminists, the Marxists, anarchists, and Revolutionary Communists, the vaguely apathetic left-leaners, the merely apathetic."

Read the Berkeleyside article here.

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"The first time I saw a bowl of table grapes I had a panic attack. ~ KOKO MULDER"

Connecting through social media with the diaspora of Berkeley kids, and comparing our upbringings. Read the New York Times article here.

Freedom of the Internet demonstration, TBT

Odd to see this Internet ban memory from my final days as an expat in Istanbul at a time when America is voting to save or kill Net Neutrality tomorrow.

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A photo author, journalist & mid-east politics expert Hugh Pope took of me midway in the march from his Istiklal apartment.

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What Hugh Pope wrote about that day:

Some pictures of demonstrators on Sunday 15 May 2011 calling for reform of Turkey's new conservative internet laws in Istanbul's Istiklal St today - the biggest, loudest and happiest protest I've seen in more than a decade of living in the city center. Some signs were funny too: "Dawkins is a scientist, not a pornographer, you retard!" "Your Internet is being cut according to Islamic regulations" (carried by the two gentlemen in chador-like garb, punning on signs in religious-minded meat shops) "EnSUCKlopedia" (well, roughly), "Censorship for Security is like Sex for Virginity" and "Hands off my porn". 

Unless the government backtracks, a whole new system goes into force on 22 August. Internet providers will be obliged to offer every subscriber four filters of varying severity, and forcing Internet cafes to choose which sites can be accessed in advance. Any attempt to bypass such regulations will be criminal, and all Internet providers will be responsible for enforcement. 

The liberal Radikal newspaper, for instance, compares this coming system to that of China, Iran or Cuba. This appears to be a new turn for Turkey, which has so far been ambivalent on Internet freedom - YouTube was banned for what seemed like years, but even the Prime Minister noted that it was easy to use a proxy server to reach it. But from 22 August even proxies will be banned ... and all this in a country negotiating to join the EU! 

Not only Turks are concerned. Turkey's expat harem's Queen of Social Media, Anastasia Ashman, peeled off the crowds to visit and tweet from our windows overlooking the crowds of tens of thousands (see picture). At the same time, her Internet guru husband Burc managed to get my wi-fi system working properly for the first time in five years. So a big catch-up for me and I hope the demo will turn into a giant step forward for Turkey.